Housed in Viimsi Manor, the former summer residence of General Johan Laidoner who was the Commander‑in‑Chief of the Estonian Armed Forces before the WW II, the Estonian War Museum is a great place to start if you'd like to learn more about this country's history. Over hundreds of years, Estonia has had troops fighting on its soil from Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Russia and has even hosted a fair share of Viking battles. Inside you’ll find all sorts of displays and info on the various wars Estonia has been involved in.
There are several permanent exhibitions available for visit. The exhibition of WW I depicts the destiny of Estonians who either conscripted or drafted voluntarily to the Russian army during WW I, and later played a crucial part in the battles for gaining independence during the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920). The exhibition 'War for Independence' depicts the battles held on the fronts, the weapons, the armoured trains, the battleground and allied forces.
The period of WW II is told through the story of three Estonian men whose destiny was determined by their year of birth. Their choices or lack of choices reflect the complexity of that harsh period in occupied Estonia. The exhibition 'Cold War' reflects Estonian Forest Brothers' movement during and after the WW II, military service of Estonian men in the Western countries and in the Soviet Army, the locations of Soviet troops and nuclear weapons in the territory of Estonia until 1994.
The exhibition of uniforms of the Estonian Defence Forces from 1917-1940 displays 14 historical uniforms. In addition, the exhibition features the military units' insignia etc. of that period. And naturally the museum would not be complete without the overview of the life of General Laidoner.
A display of artillery guns and military vehicles is located 300 m from the museum. The machine pool of the heavy artillery display mainly dates back to the period from 1930 to 1960, and the majority of the items formed part of the armament of various countries in World War II and during the Cold War. The exhibit also features a range of vehicles used by the Estonian Defence Forces in the 1990s and later. One of the highlights of the exhibit is a sauna built by the Estonian soldiers at the Camp Bastion base camp in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. Once the operation ended, the sauna was returned to Estonia and reassembled in the museum.
Getting there: Take bus N°1A to Viimsi from the Viru Centre’s underground bus terminal (C-4) and get off at Viimsi vallamaja stop (should be about a 25min ride). Walk back to the main road and turn right, another 50m and it will be the large yellow building on your left.