Tallinn

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia wich is situated on southern coast of Gulf of Finland, in north central Estonia . Unlike many of the large towns, the only larger river in Tallinn is located in Pirita (city district counted as a suburb). The river valley is a protected area because of its natural beauty. A limestone cliff runs through the city. It is exposed, for instance, at Toompea and Lasnamäe. However, Toompea is not a part of the cliff, but a separate hill. 

The highest point of Tallinn which is 64 meters above the sea level, is situated in the district of Nõmme, in the south-western part of the city. 

The length of the coastline is 46 kilometers. It comprises 3 bigger peninsulas: Kopli peninsula, Paljassaare peninsula and Kakumäe peninsula 

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the city has rapidly developed from a small town in a big empire to the biggest town of a small country. 

The Old Town is a compact maze of cobblestone streets, historical buildings and great views and has a place on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Many of the old buildings have been renovated, but generally speaking in quite a good way. The Old Town is easy to cover on foot. Start near the Townhouse square (Raekoja Plats), head your way up to the Pikk Jalg, to the Castle Square. On Castle Hill you find Toompea Castle and the 19th-century symbol of the Tsar's power in Estonia, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. To fully get a grip on medieval Tallinn, you might consider walking around the walls and fortifications. The city used to have 66 towers of which 19 remain. Some are restaurants or shops, others are offices. The three oldest towers, Nunna, Sauna and Kuldjala, can be visited in summer. 

Tallinn is full of museums, covering a range of fields from history and nature to art and architecture. For art lovers, museums show a range of established artists, but the city's art scene is also alive with constantly changing exhibits in galleries and halls. Paintings, sculpture, graphic art and applied art by lesser-known names and new talent from Estonia and abroad are shown in many venues throughout the city, giving a better taste of what's happening now. 


Interesting to know: 

1. The Oldest Capital City in Northern Europe! 
Tallinn was put on the world map in 1154 by Arabian geographer al-Idrisi. He found a small town like a large castle and a busy port here. But Tallinn was a meeting point between east and west already centuries earlier. 

2. The Highest Building of the World! 
Until late 1800s, St. Olaf's Church in Tallinn was the tallest building ever built. In 1500, its spire rose to a dizzying height of 159 meters. Its unparalleled size symbolized the glory of medieval Tallinn, whose golden age flourished in the 14th to the 16th century. 

3. The Oldest Apothecary of the Word! 
The oldest continually functioning apothecary in the world has been in business in Tallinn's Town Hall Square since 1422. Today, bat powder and snakeskin potion are no longer available in the Town Hall Pharmacy. But you can still try the fine medieval claret.

4. The Best Preserved Medieval Town Hall! 
The Town Hall, the only intact Gothic town hall in Northern Europe, is one of the most famed symbols of the city. In 2004 the Town Hall celebrated its 600th anniversary.

5. The Biggest Choir of the World! 
A true cultural centre indeed, Tallinn hosts the grandest event in Estonia, the Song Festival, held every 5 years. It is quite an experience to listen to a choir of 20,000 voices has singing to an audience of 100,000.

6. The Best Preserved Old Town in Northern Europe! 
Old Town of Tallinn, belonging to UNESCO's World Heritage list since 1997, is the best preserved old town in Northern Europe. The authenticity of its medieval atmosphere makes Tallinn's Old Town unique.

  

Attractions: 

1. Tallinn Town Hall 
Tallinn`s late Gothic Town Hall building is one of the most famed symbols of the city, recognized throughout Estonia as a venerable, unique architectural treasure.
The Town Hall was established on the central square, probably at the beginning of 13th century. In 1402-1404, the building was substantially reconstructed. The exterior we know today dates from this period, and the basic room plan has also been preserved, as it was reconstructed for hosting receptions. 

The second floor was and still is the main floor, where the Citizen`s Hall, the Council Hall, a small kitchen and chancery are located and where festive receptions and concerts are held, just as they were in the Medieval days of yore. The three-nave cellar hall is open to citizens and guests today as an exhibit hall.
Summer 2004, the Town Hall celebrated its 600th anniversary with a number of special exhibitions. Not only will the fascinating hall itself be open for view, there will also be special historical displays covering the Town Council's history, town rights and town justice. 

2. St. Olav`s Church 
St. Olav's Church was the tallest church in Medieval Europe. The earliest data on St. Olav's Church come from 1267. Little is known about the building of this Gothic style church and its early years, but there may have been a church on this location as early as the 12th century, alongside the Scandinavian market yard. 
The church was named after the Norwegian king Olav II Haraldsson, canonised as a saint. St. Olav was considered to be the protector of seafarers. 
Around 1500, the building reached a height of 159 meters (now 123,7m), and became the world's tallest building of the time. The motivation for building such an immensely tall steeple must have been to use it as a maritime signpost, which made the trading city of Tallinn visible from far out at sea. There was also a risk, however: the steeple has been hit by lightning at least eight times, and the whole church has burned down three times. The fire could be seen from Finland, all the way across the Gulf. 
An additional intriguing detail about St. Olav's comes from the Chronicles of Russow. In 1547, a group of acrobats visited Tallinn and tied a rope from the top of St. Olav's steeple to the city wall. They performed dizzying tightrope tricks, to the delight and dismay of the city folk. 
Legend says that once upon a time the nobles of Tallinn decided to build the tallest church in the world, in hopes of luring more merchants to the city. But where to find a master builder capable of carrying out such a task? Suddenly, a large, quiet stranger appeared out of nowhere and promised to build the church, but the payment he asked was more than the city could pay. The man was willing to forego payment, on just one condition - the city people had to guess his name. 
The stranger worked fast and talked to no one. The church was nearly finished and the city fathers grew more anxious by the day. Finally, they sent a spy to sniff out the stranger's name. The spy found the builder's home, where a woman was singing a lullaby to a child: "Sleep, my baby, sleep, Olev will come home soon, with gold enough to buy the moon." Now the city people had the man's name! They called out to the builder, who was attaching a cross on the top of the steeple, "Olev, Olev, the cross is crooked!" Upon hearing this, Olev lost his balance and fell all the way down. Legend tells of a frog and a snake that crawled out of Olev's mouth as he lay there on the ground. Building the enormous structure had required the help of dark powers. Yet the builder's name was given to the church, named after St. Olav. 

3. Town Hall Pharmacy 
Town Hall Pharmacy is one of the oldest pharmacies still functioning in its original spot in all of Europe. 
The pharmacy, which stands on the corner of the Town Hall Square, was first mentioned in historical documents in 1422, but by some accounts, it may be older still. The town council-governed pharmacy sold many other goods besides medicine. 
Over the centuries, it has changed slightly, but it still retains the flavour of bygone days, while it sells modern medicines. Medieval medicinal ingredients like bat powder and snakeskin are no longer available, but you can still try the fine spiced claret, renowned already in the Middle Ages. 

4. The Old Town 
The unique value of Tallinn's Old Town lies first and foremost in the well-preserved completeness of its medieval milieu and structure, which has been lost in most of the capitals of northern Europe. Since 1997, the Old Town of Tallinn has been on UNESCO's World Heritage list. 
Its powerful defensive structures have protected Tallinn from being destroyed in wars, and its lack of wooden buildings has protected it from burning down.
But it is also crucial that Tallinn hasn't been massively rebuilt in the interest of dispensing with the old and modernising the town. 
Tallinn is one of the best retained medieval European towns, with its web of winding cobblestone streets and properties, from the 11th to 15th centuries, preserved nearly in its entirety. All the most important state and church buildings from the Middle Ages have been preserved in their basic original form, as well as many citizens and merchant residences, along with barns and warehouses from the medieval period. 
The golden era in Tallinn's history lies in the period between the early 15th and mid 16th centuries. Tallinn had attained fame and a powerful role in the Baltic Sea area through its membership in the Hanseatic League. Economic might carried with it both the need to defend the city and the opportunity for a rich period of architectural and artistic creativity.

5. Kadriorg 
The emergence and development of Kadriorg was influenced first and foremost by the high society of the tsar's empire, as well as the wealthiest layer of local society. Even the dignified architecture of Kadriorg's preserved historical wooden residential buildings give proof to the fact that this was a wealthy seaside resort area.
The streets of Kadriorg are as good as a unique architectural museum, weaving together various centuries and cultures. Noble villas and summer estates, functionalist apartment buildings with stately flats are interspersed with cheaper Estonian rented wooden houses. Kadriorg is one of the more dignified areas even today, and one of the best loved residential regions of Tallinn. The Estonian President's residence and many foreign embassies are located here. The park is one of the favourite spots for walking of Tallinners young and old. 
But Kadriorg is famed mostly for its baroque palace and park ensemble, begun in 1718 as the summer palace for the family of Russian tsar Peter I. 

6. Pirita
Pirita, located 5-7 kilometers from Tallinn's city centre, borrowed its name from the Order of St. Bridget's Virgin Mary Cloisters.
In the early 20th century, the seaside town of Pirita began to develop into a destination for Sunday rides and a bathing area.
Today Pirita is one of the favourite places in Tallinn for spending free time, with its bathing beaches, coastline, pine-forested parks, and picturesque Pirita River valley. The whole area offers a spectrum of possibilities for active holidays. Tallinn's Botanical Garden has lands on either side of the Pirita River, near the Forest Cemetery and Tallinn's TV Tower, where you can achieve a view from 170 meters high, over the city and its surroundings 

7. Rocca al Mare 
Rocca al Mare is an area on the sandstone banks of the southwestern coast of Tallinn's Kopli Bay.
The name "Rocca al Mare" alludes to its seaside location - the "cliff by the sea". The name comes from A. Girard de Soucanton's summer estate, built in 1863. Neighbouring estates later borrowed the name, and today it applies to the entire region. Several of Tallinn's worthy sights are located in this area. The area has become an attractive centre for spending free time, with cultural events, relaxation, sporting and shopping opportunities .