Tallinn is a beautiful city which has preserved its history. One of the highlights of Tallinn is the Medieval Old Town. However, there are interesting attractions in each area of the city. Tallinn is divided into different districts, each with its own character and sightseeing spots.
This district is mainly a residential area with large panel buildings of Väike-Õismäe, mainly built during the 1970s. Lake Harku and an extensive beach area at Kakumäe, also the Kopli Gulf all make it a great recreational place. Attractions include
Kesklinn could be considered the city center, since it serves as a home to the Medieval Old Town and port suburbs. Visitors can admire the red roofed buildings and stone paved streets. You can also admire wooden and stone houses. Most of the historical attractions are located in this district. Visitors should be sure to check out the
Located next to the center, this district has several apartment buildings that date back to 1930s and single family houses dating back to 1950s. The industrial part of this area is rather extensive. Southern part is given to the Tondi area of military barracks. One of the best restaurants in the city is located in this district;
Lasnamäe is the largest area. This eastern section of Tallinn has several out of the way attractions. Visitors shouldn't miss the
Mustamäe is the oldest residential region with large panel houses from the 1960s. It is also the home of Tallinn Technical University and numerous scientific institutions. There is great shopping at the
Dating back to the end of the 1800s, this area used to be a separate city until 1940 when it was united with Tallinn. The area is covered with sand and pine groves and has mainly single family houses. It is considered as one of the most prestigious areas of Tallinn.
This is a beautiful area in Tallinn. You can enjoy beaches, yachting and a lot of sporting opportunities. The
Põhja-Tallinn is architecturally, historically and socially diverse. This serves as home to Kalamaja, with 1 to 2 story wooden houses. The Pelgulinn area has more modern wooden buildings and areas of multi-story houses. This is also the area of railway station, ports and various industrial buildings.
Although Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and an important business and legal center, the city itself is rather small. Its tiny streets in Old Town house a large number of galleries, museums, sightseeing spots and other entertainment places.
Museums and Galleries
For art lovers, apart from marveling at Old Tallinn itself, there are a lot of galleries to explore. Some recommendations would be Navitrolla Galerii--a gallery featuring rather diverse work from a local artist, the jewelry gallery Aurum, and Kastellaanimaja Gallery-- featuring works by contemporary artists. There is also a great amount of museums all across Tallinn, including the Adamson-Eric Museum, Applied Art Museum, Museum of Estonian Architecture, Niguliste Museum - Concert hall (offering works of medieval art) The Great Guild Hall which is now a historical museum, Maarjamäe Palace which hosts Estonia's history museum, Kiek in de Kök, a historical defense tower, and Estonian Open Air Museum, which features shows of local farmers and peasant traditions.
Because Tallinn dates back to 13th century there are a lot of houses, towers, castles and palaces left up to date. Most of them represent different centuries and reigns and are worth a visit. Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn Town Hall, Dominican Monastery, Town Hall Pharmacy, House of the Brotherhood of Black Heads, Church of the Holy Ghost, Nunna, Sauna and Kuldjala Towers, Maiden Tower (Neitsitorn), Toompea Castle & Tall Hermann's Tower, and St. Brigitta's Convent are just a few. Cat's Well and St. Catherine's Passage are also worth visiting while in the Old Town.
Theater and Casino
Tallinn's City Theatre and Estonian National Opera are good places to watch the latest play or opera. Gamblers won't be disappointed either, as there are various outlets to take in a show and play some Black Jack, including Reval Park Hotel & Casino, Admiral Casino, and Bally's Casino.
There are no shortages of nightclubs and discos in Tallinn. Rock Cafe, BonBon, Bonnie & Clyde, Café Amigo, Hollywood, and Moskva are good bets for those who love to dance their feet off.
The capital and largest city in Estonia, Tallinn has a diverse and interesting history. Although pottery has been discovered in the area that is over 5000 years old, official settlement began in approximately in the 10th Century. As ancient Estonians were seeking for a suitable trading place around the Gulf of Finland, they came across the spot where Tallinn now stands. In 1219 Northern Estonia was conquered by the Danes led by King Valdemar II, who later established Toompea Castle. At first the area was ruled by the Danish, but in 1230 German merchants were invited to live in the settlement. This then grew to a multinational town.
Throughout the Danish period (1219-1346) behind the town wall a network of streets were formed and churches, convents, warehouses and defense buildings were erected. The city's big coat of arms, with three lions against the golden background, comes from the Danish royal coat of arms. The small one, with the white Latin cross on the red background, comes from the Danish national flag the Dannebrog, which according to the legend fell from the sky during the battle for the castle.
In 1285, Tallinn became a member of the Hanseatic League, which was an alliance of trading cities. The city prospered since it was located in a great trading spot for Europe and Russia. The Danish sold Tallinn in 1346 to the German Order, also called the Teutonic Order or Teutonic Knights. However, life in Tallinn did not change much with different rulers and the city continued to prosper. The Germans built several important buildings that still stand today, such as the Tallinn Town Hall and the Great Guild Hall.
During the Livonian War, Tallinn became under the rule of Sweden in 1561. Although Russians tried to capture the town, Tallinn remained under Swedish control. The city continued its local government, but life became tougher since trade did not flourish as much. The city was further set back because of the Plague of 1602-1603 and the Great Fire of 1684 which severely damaged the city. However during the Swedish rule education increased.
The Great Northern War of 1700 to 1721 greatly damaged the city and the plague reappeared. The population of Tallinn dramatically dropped during that time period. In 1710, Tallinn came under Russian rule. At first Tallinn continued to govern itself, but slowly the Town Council's power was limited and was disbanded in 1889. Russia changed how the city was governed, but it helped the city industrialize.
Around 1857 the town started to grow industrial-wise. Large factories were built and their production was exported to Russia. Tallinn became one of the most important ports. The Russian influence can be seen in the town's architecture. Kadriorg Palace and park ensemble, the building of the Provincial Government of Estonia at Toompea, as well as several churches, theater buildings, banks and schools–all represent the luxurious Russian czarist influence.
Estonians had slowly gained control of the city government and the first Estonian mayor was elected in 1906. However in 1918 the Soviets took control of the Council, but a month later Estonians took back control and declared independence. However Germany occupied the city right after the declaration, but in 1919 World War I was over and Germany left Tallinn. The Estonia War of Independence occurred from 1918 to 1920 as the Estonian Army fought against the Soviet Western Front Offensive. In February 1920 the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed and Soviet Russia acknowledged Republic of Estonia's independence.
In 1920 Tallinn became the capital of now independent Republic of Estonia. This lasted for 20 years. During this period some of the most beautiful buildings were created. When World War II began the Soviets occupied Tallinn in 1940, then German troops occupied the city in 1941. The Soviets again occupied Tallinn in 1944. During the war more than 50% of Tallinn's residential buildings and 11% of Old Town were destroyed by bombing attacks. Luckily most of the historical buildings in Old Town were preserved.
The Soviet retained control over Tallinn. At first Tallinn had lost a lot of its population because of the war, but in the 1950s and onward Estonians moved to Tallinn for employment the city greatly grew. In August 1991, the Supreme Soviet of Estonia declared the re-establishment of independence of Estonia. Tallinn became the capital of the Republic of Estonia. Now Estonia is part of the European Union and is looking forward to a bright future.
Tallinn has many historical buildings as well as culturally significant spots. If you want to tour the different locations you can either explore on your own or join a guided tour. Either option will help you discover the fascinating history as well as modern city of this beautiful city.
St. Catherine's Passage
Take your own tour of the area around St. Catherine's Passage. The medieval passage connects Vene and Müürivahe streets and is now filled with artists and cafes. Stop for a drink or to browse the artwork at Bogapott. After resting walk to the Dominican Monastery which is a gothic styled monastery built in 1246 and has interesting exhibits inside. Another close by landmark is the House of the Brotherhood of Black Heads, a Renaissance building. The nearby Great Guild Hall is also worth a tour and houses the Estonian History Museum.
Town Hall Square
The Town Hall Square was used for celebrations, executions and much more even before Tallinn Town Hall was built. Today the square is filled with cute cafes and is often used for events, the square is known for its Christmas Market. The focal point of the square is obviously the Tallinn Town Hall. After exploring the beautiful building head to Town Hall Pharmacy, built in the early 15th Century. You can still purchase pharmaceutical items at the old Pharmacy. A few blocks away is Olde Hansa where you can dine in Medieval ambiance.
The Kadriorg Palace, also called Christine's Palace was built in 1718 and showcases a beautiful Northern Baroque style. After touring the palace head to the Kumu Art Museum where you can enjoy culture. If you are hungry stop by Cantina Carramba for a Mexican feast. If you want to go skating the Jeti Ice Hall can't be beat.
Toompea Castle & Tall Hermann's Tower
No trip to Tallinn is complete without seeing Toompea Castle & Tall Hermann's Tower. Built in 1227, the castle has housed each reigning power and now the Parliament resides here. Close by is the beautiful Alexander Nevsky Cathedral which is a Russian Orthodox Cathedral. The 1219 St. Mary's Cathedral, also known as Dome Church, is nearby and deserves a tour.
If you would prefer a guided tour, perhaps because you would like more information on different landmarks, there are many options.
Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour (+372 6 10 8616 / http://www.travel2baltics.com/ )
Tallinn Official Sightseeing Tour (+372 6 27 9080 / http://www.citytour.ee/ )
City Bike Tours (+372 5 11 1819 / http://www.citybike.e/ )
Beautiful Bike Tour (+372 5 55 42 111 / http://www.traveller.ee/ )