In the world there are a lot of cities about which it is possible to read through in textbooks of history. There are cities about which originality is known all over the world. But there is no city in the world, which does not have its own history and features, even if its name is still not known. A vivid example to this is Sillamäe, which is located in the northeast part of Estonia. The town is very hospitable, cosy and original. Let us introduce you some features of our town.
The night between the 18th and 19th of November in 1700 was windy and rainy. The Sõtke River was crossed and troops under the direction of young King Karl XII broke camp into a field, where Sillamäe town is located. They called this camp “dirty camp”, because of the lack of facilities to wash themselves. This was not only due to the humidity of the autumn night, but mostly because of rains and mud which sometimes reached knee height. There were not enough tents for everybody and problems with food were very serious too. Circumstances of war were such, that on November 19th it was necessary to move further to the east. The next day, 20th of November, these troops won the fight near Narva, against Russian armies under the direction of Peter I. It was the first serious Swedish victory, in the North war between Sweden and Russia.
Before the Swedes arrival, troops of Russian soldiers had passed through the territory of Sillamäe. This cavalry was under the direction of General Boris Sheremetiev, which was sent to Rakvere on investigation. The cavalry came back with defeat, because of the battle with Swedes. Dead soldiers were buried near the Sõtke River. Old inhabitants tell that this place was found after World War II, near the Cultural centre, which is located on Kesk Street. In the 18th century, this was the road from Tallinn (Reval) to Narva.
Sillamäe, which has originated on the crossing of road and the river several centuries ago (was first mentioned in 1502), is located on the coast of the Finnish gulf and near one of the most important Estonian highways. These facts let the town play an important role in the history of the country. During World War I, here was the line of defense of Russian troops. In 1919 during the Emancipating war here was the Estonian-Finnish landing, which played the important role in the overthrow of the communistic authority in Narva. In 1944, here was the German landing, in which most of the soldiers were killed. During the summer of 1944 in Sinimäe, which is located nearby, there was one of the most ruthless battles. In World War II, this place is known due to the Narva battle.
After the war, Sillamäe was very important for development of science and techniques. This is all about nuclear power, for use in both war and peace. In 1946 with the consent of Stalin and Beria, building of a factory for the manufacture of a nuclear bomb started. This factory only finished manufacture of uranium with the beginning of “perestroika”, and with finding independence of Estonia in 1990. But in post-war decades the town was (the status of city was appropriated in 1957) one of the most famous „confidential and closed nuclear cities”. Now the time of closeness has passed. Big intellectual, technical and potential culturally well prepared people from all Soviet Union were sent here, which let Sillamäe to go through changes and to generate the new future.
Sillame was first mentioned in 1502. In 1700 a mill and the bridge through the river were built here.
In 19 century Sillamäe was first mentioned like a resort. In 1869 Petr Chaikovskij, who was one of the most famous Russian composers, visited Sillamae. For 25 years since 1891 here rested Ivan Pavlov, famous Russian physiologist.
Since 1928 Sillamäe is not any more a place for rest, but a town of industry. This year was open slate plant, power station and a small harbour. In 1940 the population of Sillamäe was about 2600 people. During the Second World War the factory was destroyed.
History of Sillamäe as an industrial town starts in 1946, when a new factory was built here. In 1990 the manufacture of former production was stopped and plant started to work with rare metals.
A little bit about about economy
The industry began to appear in Sillamäe in 1920 when the Estonian-Swedish slate factory, power station and port were built here. On the basis of this enterprise started to create the new enterprise, which for some many years processed uranium and now is engaged in rare metals. The name of Silmet is known in different parts of the world, as it takes a leading place in the manufacture of tantalum and niobium. 99% of raw material is brought from other countries and 99% of production is exported.
After the 1940s of 20th century, there was no port in Sillamäe. Today, Sillamäe is a port town again. Approximately one million kroons (approximately 60 millions euro) has been invested in the construction of the first stage of the port and the oil terminal. The Port is planned to be constructed in three stages. The Port, which is one of the largest projects for private investors in the region, is planned counting upon that Sillamäe is the most east “sea gate” – it is only 25 km from the Russian border. In 2007 investors plan to take through the port up to 5 tons of the goods.
Using a suitable geographical position another big economic project has been built in Sillamäe, the free zone of Sillamäe, which has been operating since 1999, and covers an area of 600 hectares, and offers the free areas, developed infrastructure and economic discounts for development business or manufactures.
Closing and sanitation of storage of waste became the third project of a century. The cost of the project, which started in 1998 and will end in 2007, is 312 million Estonian kroons or 20 millions euros. The project is financed by Estonia, northern countries and other European Union countries that are located near the Baltic Sea. Storage of nuclear waste in Sillamäe is the first dangerous storage which is brought in the order. The guarantee on 1000 years is given to this work.
The industrial potential of Sillamäe continues to develop. “Ecometal” - modern factory on processing accumulators was opened in 2003. Many enterprises have raised a high quality of their work with the ISO certificate. These are „Polyform” (manufacturer of plastic containers), „Norwes metal” (manufacturer of metal) and „Silmet”.
People and the culture
In the beginning of 20th century, little boys knew from the stories of their parents only the fact, that he is “some professor from Petersburg, which makes researches with dogs”. For children he was nobody important. Despite of age, he behaved himself very cheerfully that has won hearts of Sillamäe children. Sillamäggi (the name of Sillamäe at that time) was so beloved by the professor, that even visiting Italy, he compared beauty of the southern country with the loved to heart town.
Professor has not got to Italy occasionally. On the congress of physiologists, it was honourable to see among visitors Ivan Pavlov, who was the first Nobel Prize winner from Russia (1904). It was that vigorous old man, who regularly visited Sillamäe before World War I. And it would be desirable to tell, that deep under town there is a magnet which in different time draws here intellectuals and scientists who keep and develop culture. At the end of 19th and in the beginning of 20th century, Sillamäe was one of the most favourite places for the rest among intellectuals and scientists from Russia. The word “Sillamäe” can be met in the biographies of these famous people: composers Pjotr Tchaikovsky and Eduard Trubin, poets Vjatcheslav Ivanov and Konstantin Balmont, writer Endel Tennov, the inventor Boris Rozgin, artists Konstantin Somov and Nikolai Dubovski.
At the beginning of the 21st century Sillamäe keeps and develops the original and multilateral culture as one of its main riches. Days of Slavic culture, jazz-time, festival, exhibitions of foreign artists and other interesting actions take place in the town. Sillamäe Museum is probably the only museum in Estonia where there is an exhibition devoted to a life of Soviet time during the 50th and 60th. Various masters of sports and champions train in a magnificent sports complex. Sillamäe Institution of Economy and business and Academy Nord have started their jobs as a result of the development of town.
The town itself often is named a pearl. In Estonia there is no other place where the architectural ensemble in the style of 40-50 years of the last century was so kept. The ladder which is located in a southern part of town, leads to the sea, bas-relief in the classical style, arrangement of the buildings, the building which belongs to the local authorities combines gothic and soviet style, the cascade of water basins in the centre of the town…….Everything belongs to the history (two buildings are monuments of architecture), but on the other hand, everything is still young, new and fresh. People who live here have built this town by themselves and can tell a lot about the history of the town.
So welcome to Sillamäe! Friendly and modern, open to new ideas. The “Town of fresh seawinds!”