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Kuressaare is a town and a municipality on Saaremaa island in Estonia. It is the capital of Saare County. The town is situated on the coast of Gulf of Riga and is served by Kuressaare Airport. Kuressaare (first mentioned 1422) developed around a bishop's castle (Latin Arx Aquilae) first mentioned in 1381. In 1559 it was sold by the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek to Denmark, and it obtained its civic charter modelled after that of Riga from Magnus of Livonia in 1563. In 1645 it passed to Swedish control in the Treaty of Brömsebro. Kuressaare was formerly known by the German and Swedish name of Arensburg. Kuressaare was burnt to the ground by Russian troops in 1710 during the Great Northern War. With the Treaty of Nystad of 1721 the town passed to Russian control. During the 18th century Kuressaare became a popular resort. Its historic German name of Arensburg was replaced by Kuressaare in 1918 when Estonia declared its independence during World War I.
From 1952-1988 it was called Kingissepa after the Bolshevik Kuressaare-native Viktor Kingissepp (not to be confused with the Russian town Kingisepp). In October 1990, Kuressaare was the first town in Estonia to regain its self-governing status. Today, Kuressaare is a safe and healthy town, open for international cooperation and communication. It also hosts the FC Kuressaare football club. Kuressaare is the birthplace of Voldemar Väli (1903-1997), who was a two time Olympic medalist for Estonia in the sport of Men's Greco-Roman Featherweight Wrestling. The Estonian-American architect Louis Kahn was also born there.
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