Tallinn, or Reval as it is called in German, is located on the Gulf of Finland just opposite of Helsinki. It is Estonia's capital and most important harbor. Tallinn was first mentioned in 1154. In 1219 the fortress was built around the town. In 1285 the city joined the Hanseatic League. Tallinn became the capital of independent Estonia in 1919 and in 1940 of the Estonian SSR. During the German occupation in World War II the city was heavily damaged but mostly rebuilt after the war. In 1991, it again became the capital of an independent Estonia. You cannot imagine the beauty of the town. Town wall, castle and hundreds of years old building takes you back in time.
Town Hall and Town Hall Squere
The square in front of Tallinn's Town Hall functioned as a marketplace for centuries, dating back to times even before the Town Hall itself was built. Through the years this served as a place of celebrations as well as executions.
Today the square remains a cultural focal point for the city. In summer, it's filled with outdoor cafés and is home to countless open-air concerts, handicraft fairs and medieval markets. In winter, an annual Christmas Market enchants the crowds on the square, as does the town's Christmas tree (a tradition whose roots stretch back to 1441), which stays up for a month or more.
Also, find the round stone marked with a compass rose in the middle of the square. From this spot, with a little stretching and bending, you can see the tops of all five of Old Town's spires.
St. Olav's Church
Once the tallest structure in the world.
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.
In summertime it is highly recommended to make an effort and climb the steps up to the tower to enjoy the magnificent panorama view over the Old Town, the port and the sea.
Kadriorg (St. Catherine's Valley)
Kadriorg is one of the romantic hotspots of Tallinn. It boasts a large park with ponds, flower gardens and pathways, which are all there to surround the magnificent Kadriorg Palace.
The Kadriorg Palace was built by Russian tsar Peter I. The constructions began in 1718, and it was called Ekaterinenthal, or Catherinenthal, in honour of Catherine I.
The architect of the temporary summer residence palace and park was the Italian Niccolo Michetti, who was later involved with the famous Peterhof Palace. It is said that the tsar himself laid the first foundation stones for the palace.
In the 1930s, Kadriorg Palace became a residence for the head of state. On the same level as the palace, across the back flower garden, lies the president's office building, built a few years before World War II, which today serves as the residence of the President of the Republic of Estonia.
Currently, the baroque Kadriorg Palace is housing the foreign art collection of the Estonian Art Museum, which organizes concerts and theatre performances, lectures and receptions, in addition to art exhibitions.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Tallinn's largest and grandest cupola cathedral. The large, richly decorated Orthodox church, in mixed historicist style, was built on Toompea Hill in 1900, when Estonia was part of the Russian tsarist empire. The architect of the church was Mikhail Preobrazhenski from St. Petersburg. The church is dedicated to the Prince of Novgorod, Alexander Yaroslavitz Nevsky, who led the famous Ice Battle on the banks of Lake Peipsi on 5 April, 1242 and halted the Germans' eastward advance.
Before the building of the cathedral, there was a garden on the same site, in front of Toompea Castle, with a memorial to Martin Luther. The well-maintained cathedral is the grandest sacred Orthodox structure in Tallinn.
The church's belltowers hold Tallinn's most powerful church bell ensemble, consisting of 11 bells, including the largest in Tallinn, weighing 15 tonnes. You can hear the entire bell ensemble playing before church services. The interior, decorated with mosaics and icons, is well worth a visit.
The Town Wall and Towers
Medieval forts, which first appeared during the early development of the medieval city in the latter 13th century, surrounded the downtown to create a closed-o. defense zone. Constant additions and improvements meant that, by the 16th century, Tallinn boasted one of the most powerful and strongest defense systems in Northern Europe. The town wall was then 3m thick and 16m high, stretching 4km around the city, and connecting 46 defense towers. Today, 2km of the original wall and 26 of the towers remain intact.
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.
St. Catherine's Passage (Katariina käik)
St. Catherine's Passage is a landmark combining master craftsmen's workshops with a medieval atmosphere. It is without doubt one of the most romantic spots in the Old Town.
St. Catherine's Passage (Katariina käik) connects Vene and Müürivahe streets. You can see the remaining portions of St. Catherine's Church in the northern part of the passage. Residential buildings from the 15th to the 17th centuries stand along the sides of the southern section of the Passage.
The Passage was rediscovered and given new life in the summer of 1995, but is still imbued with a medieval milieu.
The open studios of artisans are now located here, and visitors can watch artists and craftsmen practise their craft daily. While each studio is unique in appearance and function, they are all united in the principle of the open studio: here one can view works not only as finished products, as in an ordinary gallery, but also as the end product of various processes that the open studio presents to the visitor.
Kumu Art Museum
Opened in 2006, the Kumu is the impressive new main building of the Art Museum of Estonia, and it's naturally a magnet for every visitor interested Estonian culture. The immense, hightech facility serves as both a national gallery, displaying the classics of Estonian art, and a contemporary art museum, showing off the latest trends.
Kumu Art Museum received the European Museum of the Year 2008 Award!
Open air Museum (Rocca Al Mare)
The Open Air Museum presents a unique collection of old Estonian buildings located on 79-hectare land by the seaside. This is a picturesque forest park close to Kopli Bay. Farm buildings, windmills and water mills from various periods and regions have been brought together here. Folk holidays are celebrated in traditional style at the museum, and often folk dance and music can be enjoyed here. This is a perfect place for a picnic and escape from city life.