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"Parnu" redirects here. For the Indian cradle, see Ghodiyu.
Main Street of Pärnu
Main Street of Pärnu
Flag of Pärnu
Coat of arms of Pärnu
Coat of arms
Pärnu is located in Estonia
Location of Pärnu
Coordinates: 58°23′N 24°30′E / 58.383°N 24.500°E / 58.383; 24.500Coordinates: 58°23′N 24°30′E / 58.383°N 24.500°E / 58.383; 24.500
Country Estonia
County Pärnu County
Founded 1251
 • Total 32.22 km2 (12.44 sq mi)
Elevation 10 m (30 ft)
Population (2014)
 • Total 41 528
 • Estonians 83%
 • Russians 12%
 • other 5%
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Area code(s) (+372) 44
Vehicle registration F
Website www.parnu.ee

Pärnu (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈpærˑnu]; German: Pernau, Russian: Пернов, Pernov, Pernow, Polish: Parnawa, Latvian: Pērnava) is a city in southwestern Estonia on the coast of Pärnu Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic Sea. It is a popular summer vacation resort with many hotels, restaurants, and large beaches. The Pärnu River flows through the city and drains into the Gulf of Riga. The city is served by Pärnu Airport.

The city is occasionally referred to as Pyarnu, an incorrect reverse-transliteration from Russian Пярну.


A drawing of Pärnu from 1554

Perona (German: Alt-Pernau, Estonian: Vana-Pärnu) was founded by the bishop of Ösel–Wiek ca. 1251, suffered heavily under pressure of the concurrent town, and was finally destroyed ca. 1600. Another town, Embeke (later German: Neu-Pernau, Estonian: Uus-Pärnu) was founded by the Livonian Order, who began building an Ordensburg nearby in 1265. The latter town, then known by the German name of Pernau, was a member of the Hanseatic League and an important ice-free harbor for Livonia. The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took control of town between 1560–1617; the Poles and Lithuanians fought the Swedes nearby in 1609. Sweden took control of the town during the 16th-century Livonian War, but it was subsequently taken by the Russian Empire in the 1710 Capitulation of Estonia and Livonia and the 1721 Treaty of Nystad, following the Great Northern War. It belonged to Imperial Russian Governorate of Livonia then.

The town became part of independent Estonia in 1918 following World War I.

During the Great Northern War, the University of Dorpat (Tartu) was relocated to Pernau from 1699–1710. The university has a branch campus in Pärnu today (1,000 students in the 2004/2005 school year).


1881 1897 1922 1934 1959 1970 1979 1989 2000 2009
12966 12898 18499 20334 22367 50224 54051 53885 46476 44024


Local administration consists of the town council and the town government. Town council elections take place every four years. The number of councillors depends on the population. The current number of councillors is 33. Estonian National Electoral Committee, Local government council elections

    • October 2005
    • 18. October 2009[1]
    • 20. October 2013


Pärnu beach

Pärnu is a health resort of international stature. In addition to guests arriving from around fifty countries, it is also proved by its membership in the European Spas Association (since 2000) and the European Flag that has been flying at the beach of Pärnu since 2000. Many tourists in Pärnu are Finns and Estonians. Hotel and restaurant staff speak English, Russian and some Finnish in addition to Estonian.

In 1837, a few business-minded entrepreneurs decided to rebuild a lone tavern near the beach into a bathing establishment, thus preparing the ground for the development of the resort of Pärnu. This wooden building was the predecessor of the present-day mud baths. The establishment, which was opened in 1838, accommodated 5–6 bathrooms that provided hot seawater baths in summer and operated as a sauna in winter. The wooden building was burnt down in the course of World War I. In 1927, the present stone building of Pärnu Mud Baths was erected at the same site. Later, the wings were attached to the building to accommodate a bath unit and a pool.

Today, disorders of the joints, spinal column and peripheral nervous system, gynaecological problems and dysfunction of the central nervous system are treated at Pärnu Mud Baths. The therapies include hydrotherapy, mud and ozocerite therapies, massage, laser and electrotherapies, lymph and inhalation therapies, aromatherapy and ECG. There are 130 rooms in the hotel of the Mud Baths. Today, Pärnu is the most popular health tourism destination in Estonia.

Since 1996 Pärnu has been known as Estonia's Summer Capital.[2]

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

Pärnu is twinned with:[3]

Citizens of honour[edit]

Notable residents[edit]


Maxim D. Shrayer. Dunes of Happiness: Fifteen Summers in Estonia. Baltic Worlds (September 2013).

This article incorporates information from the revision as of July 27, 2006 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.

External links[edit]