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Vana-Pärnu city was founded in 1251 with the cathedral and dome school by Saare-Lääne bishop Henricus. When the Lithuanian pagans plundered this in 1263, the citizens took the city to the other coast of the river, to the territory protected by the chivalry order.

The relics originating from that time - altar cross preserved in fire in plundering the old city was profitable as the object of pilgrimages during the Middle Ages and decorates the coat of arms of Pärnu up to now. Uus-Pärnu having obtained the city right in 1318 belonged to Hansa Union and trade was the main source of income.

In 1838 the first bathing establishment started its activities which is also considered the beginning of Pärnu as the resort. Up to II World War Pärnu as the Estonian most important resort-city was a very popular holiday city for spending summer for the holiday-makers coming from the Scandinavian countries.

On photo: tower of Nikolai church of Pärnu which was destroyed in II World War.

In 1251 the first big church in Pärnu was completed above the current Vana-Pärnu cemetery - the dome church bearing the name of St. Thomas which was destroyed in war.

Since the Middle Ages Nikolai church (Niguliste, Nicolaus the patron saint of seafarers) towered on the coast of River Pärnu with the longest history. The latter became the cathedral, as it was the only one left by XVI century as a result of wars.

In 1526-1582 the Lutheran religious services were held here. The Northern War started in 1700. The Russians conquered Pärnu in 1710 and also destroyed the university.

The Northern War brought the supremacy of the Russian empire to Estonia and Livonia, the Russians got the good sea port and ship repair place for themselves in Pärnu.

At the same time the plague broke out in Pärnu which destroyed most of the citizens.

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