Narva is a city with a long history. It has been ruled by the Danes, Germans, Russians, Swedes, and Estonians. Different peoples and cultures are intertwined here, and you can sense the old and the new hand in hand. This is not just the location of a national border. The river also creates a conceptual division between East and West. Narva’s unique location on the edge of Europe is one-of-a-kind and can be experienced by anyone walking along the river promenade.
Narva already received its town privileges in 1345, but the city’s heyday was in the 17th century, during the so-called Swedish period when the city centre was established with its unique architecture. The exceptional Baroque-style architectural ensembles that emerged here gave Narva a festive look. Just a stone’s throw away, facing off across the river from one another, are the 13th-century Order Castle with its bastions and defensive zones and the 15th-century Russian fortress, which together form a unique and unparalleled architectural ensemble, not seen anywhere else in Northern Europe. The historic Great Northern War reached Estonia exactly here in 1700 with the Battle of Narva. This changed the course of history for not only Narva but all of Europe.
During World War II, in March 1944, when Soviet forces bombed Narva and destroyed almost the entire Old Town, the Swedish grandeur of the city was eradicated. Although Narva has been repeatedly burned down and rebuilt almost every time, it was not rebuilt during the Soviet occupation. The people who returned to the city after the hostilities found only ruins of the former Baroque pearl of the Baltic Sea. Starting from 10th of August, an exciting exhibition will be opened in Narva Town Hall – ‘The New Life of Old Narva’, which will restore the city’s former glory with the help of virtual reality.
It will bring the city of Narva to life with virtual reality glasses and touchscreens, just as it was before World War II and the bombing of the city. What makes the exhibition special is the combination of virtual reality, 3D models and touchscreens. With tablets, the guests can view photos and 3D model of Old Narva and get acquainted with the pre-war life of the city. Visitors can travel through time with VR glasses and find themselves in Town Hall Square, which were established in the 17th century, and walk along the streets of Old Narva to see what Narva looked like at the height of its glory. In addition, there are two extra-large wall panels displaying tactile models. One of them has a 3D-printed model of Old Narva, which is based on two models in the possession of Narva Museum – Fedor Shantsyn’s paper model and a historically accurate model of Narva by J. Kaljund and O. Kivisalu kept in Narva Castle. The second has sections of the facades of Old Narva’s marketplaces. In addition to tactile models, the panels have texts for the visually impaired.
This unique mode of time travel is suitable for both schoolchildren and adults. If you are looking for adventure, this is the place to go to in Narva! Virtual Old Narva is intended for both individual visitors and groups. The centre can accommodate up to forty people at a time. Come by yourself or with your family! Come with schoolmates!
Narva Town Hall is located at Raekoja plats 1, Narva. The opening times of the exhibition ‘The New Life of Old Narva’ can be seen following the link.
The virtual Old Narva exposition was created as part of ‘The New Life of Old Narva‘ project, supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency and funded as part of the EU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.