Tallinn: the old town (day 1)

Welcome to Tallinn.

The capital and the largest city of Estonia is situated on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. Well known for his city wall from the 13th century, Tallinn shows a colored mix of cultures due to its strategic position on the Baltic Sea: Estonia has been a battlefield for centuries, occupied by Germany, Russia, Denmark, Sweden and Poland.

Estonia has become independent in 1992 after the Soviet occupation and the Nazis one before and since 2004 it is a member of the European Union. Now Estonia has become a leader in technology and innovation.


KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

estonian-large-flag

Flag of Estonia.

  • CITY: Tallinn
  • COUNTRY: Estonia
  • OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Estonian
  • POPULATION: 460.000
  • AREA: 160km²
  • CURRENCY: Euro

TALLINN: THE OLD TOWN (day 1: agust 6, 2018)

My flight arrived in Tallinn at 13:00 with half an hour of delay. Not a big problem for me, I didn’t have booked any tour so I can manage my time as I prefer. After I had caught my backpack, I can finally walk outside from the airport. My today plan is really simple: to catch the bus, to take possess of my room and finally the Old Town.

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Tip: get the Tallinn Card. With the Tallinn Card you have free entry to over 40 top attractions and museums, discounts to sightseeing tours, activities, shops and restaurants and free travel on public transport. You can choose 24h, 48h or 72h, it’s not really expensive and simplify a lot your trip in Tallinn. I have found it really helpful for me.

The best and only way to explore the Tallinn city center is to walk. Here below I put on a map my first ride in Tallinn.

I started my walk tour from Müürivahe. This is a small portion of the city where it is possible to find small streets with shops, cafes and amazing colored houses.

Following the flow, I arrived quickly to Plats Raekoja. Here there is Town Hall, the last Gothic town hall in all of Northern Europe. Formerly there was the seat of the City Council, today there are the Citizens’ Chamber and the Council Chamber. It’s possible to visit the Town Hall where there is a really interesting exhibitions about the story of this building and of Tallinn too. The building is really nice with wonderful details like a beautiful clock and the dragon-shaped gargoyles. Near by the exhibition there is the entrance to the Bell Tower where, after something like one hundred and fifteen steps, here I had my first look at the skyline of Tallinn.

After that I moved to St. Catherine’s Passage, a small and really particular street of the city. Along this street there are artisans and painters who stage their art, small shops and inns (where you can stop and taste the typical dishes) and old gravestones. Yes, gravestones between shops. The gravestones on the walls make the atmosphere really impressive and here it is impossible to not have the feeling of going back in time.

Moving trough the beautiful Pühavaimu street I arrived to the Church of the Holy Spirit or Pühavaimu Kirik. On the side of the Church there is one of the oldest watches from all over Estonia, made by Christian Ackermann. The church is small and pretty and the tower stands out among the red sloping roofs of the houses. Interesting is the mix of architectural styles: Renaissance the external side, Baroque spires and large Gothic windows.

Step by step I arrived to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The Cathedral it’s in the heart of the Old Town, on the Toompea Hill, and dominates the city. It is built on the model of the Moscow churches and it is dedicated to Alexander Nevsky Yaroslav, Prince of Novgorod, AKA the man who stopped the Teutonic Knights coming from the east. Inside the Cathedral there is a gorgeous atmosphere due to its decorations and marvelous religious icons.

The Toompea Hill has two amazing spots to get a postcard view of the city. The first one is the Kohtuotsa viewing platform, on the northern side of Toompea hill. Here it is possible to see the red roofs and towering spires of the Old Town and the modern buildings in the new part of the city. The second spot is near Stenbocki Maja, the seat of the Estonian Government and of the State Chancellery. Here you can have a view over the city whit in the background the Gulf of Finland and the port.

At one side of the viewing platform near the Stenbocki Maja there is a stair. With this one is possible to go quickly from the top to the base of Toompea Hill. Finally, I arrived to see the ancient City Wall. The Old Town is completely surrounded by towers and wall and one peculiarity is that every tower has a different architecture from the others. One of the most interesting is the Eppingi Tower, an impressive 15th century tower built when the city walls were set up and equipped to protect Tallinn from the enemies. Another one is the Paks Margareeta that takes its name from the squat shape due to the thickness of the walls. The last thing I suggest to see is Viru Gate. With bars, pubs, restaurants, shops and cafes is one of the best places in Tallinn to walk around.

At the end of the tour remains only the Church of St. Olav. Originally built in 1267, it assumed his Gothic style only in the 15th century. The building is dedicated to King Olaf of Norway, protector of sailors. The spire was for centuries one of the highest in Europe and from the top, on clear days, it is possible to see the Finnish coast.

There is a lot to see in the Old Town, the thing that I wanna suggest you is to take your time to lose yourself in the streets and get different perspective and a different view of the city.


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