Culture and history

Buildings full of history

The recent history (from the end of the 19th century) of Fejan, just to the east of Tjockö, is both exciting and interesting. A cholera epidemic was sweeping across Europe at the time, and Swedish authorities decided to stop the disease at the country’s borders. A quarantine station on the east coast was placed on Fejan. A hospital, Wasa, was hurriedly built in the summer of 1892 together with several other buildings. One of these was a doctor’s villa, which had originally been intended to be a mission house in the Congo. Congo, together with the former hospital building Wasa, today serves as a hostel. The island’s mortuary was constructed at the same time, and today houses a restaurant.

The Cholera Choir

What was probably the most famous event on Fejan during this period was the internment of “Orphei Drängar” (a Swedish male voice choir still active today) after a concert tour through eastern parts in 1894. A passenger on the steamboat von Döbeln from St. Petersburg developed cholera during the passage, and died on arrival at Fejan. The members of the choir continued their performances while on the island, and formed a choir that they named, with black humour, “Koleratursångarna” (the “Cholera Choir”).

The buildings here were again brought into use at the end of the Second World War. More than 30,000 Estonians fled across the Baltic Sea in ramshackle boats when Soviet troops invaded Estonia in September 1944. Fejan, which had acquired a further large hospital building known as von Döbeln at the beginning of the 20th century, was used as a transit camp for the refugees from the Baltic states.

The Archipelago Foundation signed a lease for part of the island in 1994, and has since then worked to realise its ambition to create an “Archipelago Centre” on Fejan.