Tallinn (Estonia)

Type : City Break
Best Date: ?
Expense: Medium
Things to do: Shopping, City tours
Points of Interest: Estonian History Museum, Oleviste Church, Tallinn TV Tower, Kadriorg Palace and the Town Wall ect

Brief

Estonia is a small country in Europe just celebrating 100 years of its initial independence  from the breakdown of the soviet union in 1918. Its capital is Tallinn where first settlers dates back 5000 years which makes this city one of northern Europe’s oldest capitals. Today the city has a population of around 444,085 about a third of Estonia’s total population of 13.3million.

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The Place

Estonia’s capital Tallinn was the last place I visited from my Finland/Estonia trip. My first impressions of the city was that it was too quiet and there was not too much going on. I also had the impression that Tallinn was not huge on tourism as I only saw locals and workers on my journey from the airport to the city centre, not a single tourist which was a very new experience from any trips ive done. Furthermore the journey to my hotels was not very easy for a newbie tourist like me, I had to use google map and even ask a friendly local for help, even with these I still managed to get lost. In addition paying and using the trams were also confusing, although very cheap at 1 euro there was no way to pay using cash and I believe everybody has a special travel card (like the oyster card in London), I could also hardly find any ticket machines even at larger bus stations.

Tallinn is very small and the main area to visit is the Vanalinn district or the Old Town which has one of the best preserved medieval structures in Europe. Along with all the winding cobblestone streets, gothic spires and fairy tale like architecture, stories within the city will both amaze and enchant you. Within the old town there is a huge collection of different points of interests for tourists, you will probably pass along many of their significant buildings but not notice them. Best way to see the town is by joining the free walking tour which can be arranged in the tourist information centre situated in the middle of the old town.

From my perspective the best places to see in the old town are the Alexander Nevsky cathedral, Vanalinn district, Toompea castle and a few others. Firstly you must visit the Alexander Nevsky cathedral which graces Toompea Hill, this orthodox church built by the Russians during their occupation of the capital in around late 1890 to early 1900. The cathedral was frowned upon by many Estonians around 1924 due to the symbol of Russian oppression and was due for demolition however with lack of funds this was never implemented and its beautiful architecture still stands today. Neighbouring the cathedral is Toompea Castle which was an ancient stronghold but now houses the country’s parliament. The castle has both a unique blend of modern and old whereas the walls and towers are of the ancient stronghold whilst the entrance is of modern designs. Behind the building stands the Tall Hermann an important tower which stands high above Tallinn which currently holds the Estonian flag and has held flags of different occupants of the capital.

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A three minute walk from Toompea in a more secretive area lies the Danish King’s Garden which is a brilliant place to find. There are many different legendry stories that has happened here but most notable of a falling flag which changed the favour of the battle to King Valdemar II. The small garden is a brilliant place to stop by and relax, there are also a few vendors here for quick snacks. Also situated within the garden are three statues of headless Monks one of which is praying, another that is begging and the last which keeps watch. There is a few different meanings to these three statues but its erection is unlike no other in the world.

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There are two amazing views high above Tallinn the Kohtuotsa viewing platform and the Patkuli viewing platform. The two different platform are difficult  to find with the maze like footprint of the town, but once found these picturesque sights are a pleasure to see.

Yearly around mid November Tallinn is especially a nice place visit due to their charming Christmas Market which is famous around the world. Situated in the town hall square the market hosts a number of stalls ranging from food, clothing, souvenirs and traditional products around a central Christmas tree and a stage for festive performances.

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Probably one of the cover landmark of Tallinn is the Viru Gates which was part of the city’s defence on the 14th century. These two towers are now a popular place for photographs and are said to be the main entrance to the old town.

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You will see plenty of different significant churches spread out in different locations around the old town. St Nicholas Church, Swedish St Michaels church, Holy Spirit Church and many more are worth the visit. All have different stories which may be of interest to you. There many also many other attractions outside of the old town which are worth a visit like the Kadriog Art Museum, Maritime Museums, Open Air Museum and others a like, but I didn’t have the chance to see these as I took my trip to Tallinn pretty easy and relaxed and ran out of time.

Lastly another important monument to visit which unfortunately was under refurbishment when I visited is the War of Independence Victory Column, which is situated in Freedom Square. 

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This picture taken from (https://www.flickr.com/photos/hanspoldoja/7045958209)

Conclusion

Overall Tallinn is a beautiful little city brilliant for an excursion whilst visiting other Baltic or Nordic regions. The city has both new and old attractions and particularly appeals in the winter festive season as its Christmas markets has always been highly received. I do feel their public transport trams and buses to be highly impractical for tourists. However Tallinn is small enough to be able to walk around without the need of transport. The city is affordable and couple of days is enough anything more may result in boredom, saying this if you stay longer it is a brilliant city to take it easy and relax as I did. All in all a thumbs up for me, the city’s charm is unlike no other.

Back to ‘Two Countries, Three Capitals’

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Reference:

https://www.visitestonia.com/en/why-estonia/estonia-facts
https://www.worldscapitalcities.com/capital-facts-for-tallinn-estonia/

 

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