Rural municipality of Ridala

The rural municipality of Ridala is located in Lääne County. It encircles the county’s centre Haapsalu like a collar. In addition to Haapsalu, Ridala borders the rural municipalities of Lääne-Nigula and Martna. The rural municipality of Ridala is surrounded by the bays of Väinameri to the north, west and south.

The surface area of Ridala is 262 km², including its 78 islets, Tauksi being the largest of them. Hobulaid is the only one of the islets which is populated.

Altogether, 56 villages and 2 small towns are part of this rural municipality and its total population is 3376 (01.01.2014 data from the Population Register of Estonia). The small town of Uuemõisa is the centre of the rural municipality. It forms a common urban area with the adjoining town of Haapsalu. Uuemõisa is also the largest settlement in the rural municipality of Ridala, in terms of the number of inhabitants. Located in Uuemõisa are the local government of the rural municipality, a vocational school, a nursery–primary school (6 grades), a daycare centre, library, social welfare centre, several pharmacies, a shopping centre and various shops, catering businesses and service shops. There are also three filling stations, three car washes, two car dealerships, two auto repair shops and several different manufactures.

About 15 kilometres from Uuemõisa lies another important centre providing services in the rural municipality of Ridala, the Panga village. There are nursery, primary and lower secondary schools, a youth club, library and (food) store operating in Panga village.

Two major national roads which pass through the rural municipality of Ridala are the Ääsmäe-Haapsalu-Rohuküla main road and Haapsalu-Laiküla side road. The passenger and cargo port of Rohuküla is located on the territory of the rural municipality. Ferries to the islands of Vormsi and Hiiumaa depart from Rohuküla. Kiltsi airfield, an object of national importance, is also situated in Ridala. It is a former Soviet aerodrome, currently in good condition, and is to be opened again as a visual aerodrome.

The area next to Kiltsi airfield, about 45 ha in size, is going to be developed as Kiltsi Industrial Park for small and medium-sized enterprises. A similar two-part industrial park has also been built in the town of Uuemõisa.

There are two fishing ports in Ridala – Topu and Puise. There are also two boat landings with developed infrastructure for public use in the villages of Pusku and Kiideva.

In the south, an extensive part of the rural municipality of Ridala is covered by Matsalu national park. Matsalu national park is recognised as one of the most important wetland bird areas in Europe, extremely rich in bird species. Tens of thousands of birds either resting during migration or nesting there are of great interest to birdwatchers and other ecotourists.

The coastal part of the rural municipality lies within the special conservation area of Väinameri (the strait between the mainland and islands) and although this limits certain economic activities, it does not restrict the freedom of movement of tourists and holidaymakers.

In the rural municipality of Ridala, there are 12 active accommodation establishments and 5 catering establishments.

There are many interesting architectural and natural monuments, such as the Ridala church and church yard, Ungru castle, Uuemõisa manor and its park, Kiltsi airfield, Pullapää cliff and cape and the coastal villages of Puise, Põgari, Kiideva and Haeska, to name some of the most noteworthy.

Summer inhabitants favour the villages of Mäeküla, Pusku, Nõmme and Herjava and their surroundings. There is not much social infrastructure, but the shore paths offer wonderful opportunities for hiking and swimming.

Area – 253.4 km2
Population – 3 222 (1st of January 2014)