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Aafrika Beach And The Promenade / DescriptionHaapsalu was a famous spa town in the Czarist era, and the seaside Promenade still reflects the glory of these times. The gem of the Promenade is the Kuursaal (Assembly Hall).
The Promenade, on the coast of the bay, begins from the so-called African beach that was once used for swimming and now is a site for a children’s playground. The Promenade heads left, following the shore, towards the sundial by artist Roman Haavamäe. The scenes on the clock depict different phases of life from childhood to old age.
Further away are decorative limestone stairs and decorative columns by the same artist. Two decorative staircases flank the Kuursaal.
A Kuursaal, a wooden building to host concerts and other events, was a key aspect of any respectable seaside resort in Estonia a hundred years ago. The remarkable Haapsalu Kuursaal has survived in its original form to this day. Constructed in 1898, the Kuursaal is a wonder of woodwork and well worth a visit. In the early years the house stood in the water. Later the bay was partly filled and, the shore was reinforced. The Kuursaal was a focal point to the life of Haapsalu – in the beginning of the 20th century there were two live music concerts a day, and famous musicians performed there. In Soviet times the building was used as a warehouse. Following a renovation in 1995, the Kuursaal reopened as a restaurant featuring regular concerts and entertainment.
The next sight of interest along the Promenade is the memorial column to Carl Hunnius, built in 1928. Dr. Hunnius discovered the curing properties of the Haapsalu Bay mud and started using it for therapeutic treatments. New spas were opened that attracted Russian noblemen and members of the Czarist family.
The Promenade continues along the seaside Tchaikovsky Street that ends with the stone bench that was erected in the memory of the famous composer. Tchaikovsky and his brothers enjoyed a vacation in Haapsalu, in the spring and summer of 1867. Here he worked on the opera Voyevoda and composed three pieces for piano solo Souvenir de Hapsal (memories from Haapsalu) that was dedicated to a lady he used to know. According to a legend, the composer happened to hear a famous Estonian national tune on the beach of Paralepa and later used this melody in his Fourth Symphony. The memorial bench stands on the place where Tchaikovsky loved to enjoy the morning sunrises.
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