Hiiumaa Island

Hiiumaa Island



Location: Hiiu County  Map

Area: 989 km²

Ferry: from Rohukula, Triigi

Info: Hiiu 1, Kardla 462 2232



History of Hiiumaa Island

Hiiumaa Island is an island in the Baltic Sea, a part of West Estonian archipelago. The area of the island is 989 km². The easiest way to reach the island is to take a ferry from a from Rohukula, Triigi. First human presence on Hiiumaa Island date back to the 4th century BC. It was one of the last regions in Europe to accept Christianity as their official religion. The island was conquered by the Germanic Crusaders in 1228. Hiiumaa Island was briefly owned by the Danish kingdom until it transferred to the Swedish Empire in 1563 after a treaty. After Swedes were defeated in the Great Northern War these lands along with the island were transferred to the Russian Empire. During World War II Hiiumaa Island was held briefly by the German forces between 1941 and 1944 when it was liberated by the Red Army. In 1991 after breakup of the USSR Hiiumaa became part of the independent Estonia. Despite centuries of foreign rule the island still has a large number of Estonian Swedes. They are locally known as "rannarootslased" or coastal Swedes in Estonian. Swedish call themselves "aibofolke" or "island people" in Swedish.

Maritime Archeology near Hiiumaa Island

Hiiumaa Island is famous for items that are found off its shores as much as it is famous for its natural and historic sites. During World War II several ships were sunk in the Baltic Sea just off the coast. Many divers come here to explore German and Soviet vessels. Below is the list of ships that were discovered here.

23 June 1941- A day after Operation Barbarossa started with the invasion of Nazi Germany of Soviet Union a Soviet destroyer Gnevny was sunk after it hit the German sea mines placed by the German Navy or Kriegsmarine. Twenty Soviet sailors died, 23 others including the captain of the ship M.T. Ustinov were badly injured, but survived the accident. Its wreck is situated 16 miles north of Tahkuna lighthouse.


25 June 1941- Soviet minesweeper T- 208 Shkiv sunk after it hit a German sea mine.



T- 208 Hkiv in 1939 on the left, and a sonogram of a wreck off the coast today.

27 June 1941- Two German motor torpedo boats S43 and S106 were destroyed by presumably Soviet sea mines.

1 July 1941- Soviet submarine M-81 was sunk off the North coast of an island after it hit a German sea mine. Later large parts of the machine were recovered. Three people survived the ordeal. Below is the picture of one of the pieces from the wreck site. Two of the survivors are standing next to it.

7 July 1941- Soviet minesweeper T- 216 sunk after hitting a sea mine near Tahkuna lighthouse.

30 July 1941- Soviet minesweeper T- 201 Zarjad sunk after hitting a sea mine. It sunk of the Western coast as it was passing Ristna lighthouse.

10 August 1941- German submarine U- 144 sank North of Hiiumaa Island after it was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine SC- 307. All 28 men aboard the vessel  including its commanders Friedrich von Hippel and Gert von Mittelstaedt were killed.  Map