Tallinn, Estonia – Have you heard of Tallinn? It is the capital of Estonia and we discovered this surprising jewel during a Baltic Sea cruise in 2013. As we were on a cruise we only had one day in port so we took out to explore the UNESCO world heritage ‘old’ town.
Thought to be one of the oldest beautifully preserved medieval towns, The ‘Old Town’ is divided into the Upper and Lower towns and has had a turbulent history. It was first mentioned in 1154 and at different times has been under Danish, Swedish, German & Russian rule until independence in 1991. Although there is a sprawling new city, the Old Town is where the history and culture is well preserved so we concentrated our visit here. The Old Town is not that big so a day is plenty to soak up the atomosphere of this beautiful town.
We walked the 15 minutes from the cruise ship to the Lower Old Town and were greeted by archers in medieval dress. Entering Viru Gate and the city fortifications dating back to the 13th -14th centuries, we began our exploration of this magical town with its winding cobblestone paths and well kept buildings.
Climbing the Stout Margaret Tower 120 steps is definitely worth the effort as it provides an expansive view of the Old Town. We continued exploring up to Toopea Hill (once home to the Danish Aristocrats) and onto the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. This is a 19th Century Russian Orthodox Church with the classic onion dome and although regarded by nationalists as a symbol of oppression has been restored beautifully.
Other places of interest is the Raekoja Plats which is in the heart of the Old City,and surround by cafes and restuarants as well as markets. The Town Hall is now the site of the Tallinn City Museum and was built in 1371 and dominates the square.
St Mary’s Cathedral is the oldest church in Tallinn. Originally it was a Catholic church built in 1229 however became a Lutheran church in 1561.
If you only have a day in Tallinn then I would highly recommend concentrating on the historical Old Town. Take your time to discover and relax with lunch in the square as you watch the locals going about their daily lives.
Have you been to Tallinn? I’d love to hear your comments and stories.
I hope you enjoy my memories captured in the photographs below.