Haapsalu is a seaside resort town located on the west coast of Estonia. It's the administrative centre of Lääne County and has a population of 11,618 (as of 1 January 2010). Haapsalu has been well known for centuries for its warm seawater, curative mud and peaceful atmosphere. Narrow streets with early 20th century wooden houses repeatedly lead to the sea. Haapsalu has been called the "Venice of the Baltics", although this positioning has been criticized as exaggerating. The name "Haapsalu" is from Estonian haab 'aspen' and salu 'grove.'
The town dates back to 1279, when it was chartered and became the centre of the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek, which it remained for the next 300 years. Buildings from those early days remain today, including an episcopal castle which has the largest single-nave cathedral in the Baltic states, Haapsalu Castle.