Throughout the eight centuries of its existence, Tallinn has not been in anyone's hands. Orders of chivalry, Sweden and the Russian Empire fought for the fortress and the port on the Baltic Sea at different times. As a result, the modern capital of Estonia has become a mixture of different cultures, architectural styles and traditions.
Old Tallinn is a classic example of the medieval cities of Northern Europe. In the center is a fortified fortress with thick walls, where the parliament sits, stone streets diverge from the main square, built up with houses with gabled roofs, and the bell towers of ancient churches rise above the quarters.
The capital of Estonia is the main cultural center of the country. Here are the main museums, theaters, concert venues. Festivals and festive processions are held on city streets throughout the year.
What to see and where to go in Tallinn?
The most interesting and beautiful places for walking. Photos and a short description.
An urban area imbued with the spirit of the Middle Ages, where the main historical sights are concentrated. It is an interweaving of stone streets and squares, ancient temples, town halls and houses of merchant guilds. Since 1997, the quarter has been included in the UNESCO Historical Heritage List. The Old City consists of the Lower and Upper parts. In past centuries, the Upper Town (Vyshgorod) was mainly inhabited by aristocrats.
Town Hall Square and Tallinn City Hall
The square with the tower is the very center of the Old Town. Once upon a time, public executions took place on the Town Hall Square, and caught thieves were tied to a pillory. Tallinn City Hall is an architectural monument of the XIV century, built in the Gothic style of Northern Europe. The building hosts various state receptions and other events, on other days it is open to the public for a small fee.
Town Hall Pharmacy
The oldest European pharmacy that opened its doors in the first half of the 15th century. At the end of the 16th century, the building was leased to Johann Burchard, who laid the foundation for a dynasty of pharmacists who ran the pharmacy for over 300 years. The sale of medicines continues in the pharmacy, and a museum has been opened in one of the premises, where you can look at ancient medical instruments. Sweets and souvenirs are also sold on site.
One of the city squares that appeared in the 19th century on the site of the destroyed Swedish bastion. At the beginning of the 20th century, the territory was paved with stone and the market stalls were removed from here. The main attraction of the square is a modern monument of 2009 in honor of the victory of the Estonian troops in the War of Independence of 1918-1920. It often hosts official events, concerts and sports competitions.
Tallinn city wall
A very well-preserved fence that defended the city in the Middle Ages. Sections of the wall with a total length of 2 km have survived to this day. and several towers of the XIV century. During the heyday of Tallinn, the height of individual sections of the structure reached 14-16 meters, and the thickness reached 3 meters. The wall was considered one of the most powerful and reliable in Northern Europe. In past centuries, some towers served as a prison.
One of the towers of the fortress wall, which, according to the first version, served as a prison for women of easy virtue, unfaithful wives and disobedient brides, and, according to the second version, was a haven for seamstresses. The tower was built in the 13th century along with the city wall; it was destroyed several times during the siege of the city. After the reconstruction in 2013, a museum and a cafe with a picturesque view of the Old Town were opened in the premises.
Fat Margaret Tower
The most imposing tower of the city wall is 20 meters high and 25 meters in diameter. The thickness of the walls reaches 5.2 meters. The construction was built in the 16th century, the nickname "Fat Margaret" stuck to it after a couple of centuries. An impressive construction protected the Tallinn treasury and the entrance to the harbor. The tower houses the Maritime Museum, where you can learn about the history of seafaring and fishing in Estonia.
Another defensive city tower, which was built in the 15th century. Its name is translated from the Saxon language as "look into the kitchen." The tower received such a name for the reason that from its top the city guards who were serving could watch the hostesses in the kitchens in city houses. Today, the tower houses a museum displaying weapons collections. Also from here begins a tour of the Tallinn dungeons.
Medieval gate from which the Viru Street leading to the Town Hall Square (one of the main tourist alleys of the city) begins. The gate is located in the eastern part of the city wall. Several centuries ago they served as one of the main entrances to the city. The design has come down to us almost unchanged. The construction, as it were, separates modern Tallinn from the Old Town, so for local residents it is a symbol.
A small street in the Old Town with buildings of the XV-XVII centuries. The place is also known as the Craftsmen's Yard, as there are numerous workshops for making souvenirs from leather, ceramics, and glass. In Katarina Lane, a tourist can buy a unique little thing as a keepsake of Tallinn. In the summertime, street cafes serve dishes according to old recipes, and the real atmosphere of bygone eras reigns around.
The Dome Cathedral
The main Estonian Lutheran church, the construction of which began in the 13th century. The Estonian name of the church is Toomkirik, officially it is called the Cathedral of St. Mary. Many representatives of noble German families are buried here. One of the famous tombs of the cathedral is the grave of the navigator Ivan Kruzenshtern. The Dome Cathedral regularly hosts free organ music concerts.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The main Orthodox church in Tallinn, built in the 19th century at the expense of representatives of the large Russian community. Local residents still perceive it as a symbol of the "forced Russification" of the population. The cathedral was to be demolished in 1928. In 1990, after the fall of the USSR, the temple and all property went to the newly formed Estonian government, now the Orthodox Church rents it for worship.
Church of Kaarli
Neo-Gothic Lutheran church of the 19th century. Previously, on the site of the modern temple, there was a wooden chapel of St. Anthony of the 17th century, which burned down during the Great Northern War. The decoration of the facade of the building is a German clock of the early 20th century. Now the parish of Kaarli is a functioning Lutheran church, where divine services are regularly held, as well as concerts of classical instrumental music.
Church of St Olaf
Oleviste Church is called differently. Temple of the XVI century with a spire 124 meters high. For decades, this tower was the tallest in Europe. The spire served as an excellent reference point for ships entering the city harbor. The height of the tower is also its misfortune - eight times it was struck by lightning, three times the temple burned. Inside, the church is decorated with numerous Gothic vaults, creating a complex geometric interweaving.
Monastery of Saint Brigid
The monastery is located in the north-eastern part of Tallinn. At the beginning of the 15th century, it was considered the largest in all of Livonia. The building did not last long - during the Livonian War, the monastery was destroyed by the army of Ivan the Terrible and since then it has been in ruins. Only the outer frame and the staircase on the bell tower have been preserved. In 2001, a new building was erected nearby, where the nuns of the Order of St. Brigid settled.
Church of Niguliste
In the Middle Ages, Niguliste was one of the main city churches. It is believed that the temple was founded in the XIII century. and rebuilt several times over the following centuries. In 1944, as a result of the bombing of Niguliste, it was badly damaged, and many of the art treasures that were inside were lost. In 1984, after a 30-year restoration, a museum and a concert hall were opened in the building.
Church of the Holy Spirit
One of the temples where the Catechism was first heard in Estonian. On the facade of the church there is the oldest city clock of the 17th century, which is still in operation. The temple is closely connected with the development of Estonian national culture. Inside there are 57 paintings depicting biblical scenes. The pictures were specially placed here so that the illiterate townspeople could familiarize themselves with the Bible.
Kumu Art Museum
The modern museum of 2006, designed by the Finnish architect Vapaavuori. The museum complex is a high-quality example of new architecture, a stylish building made of glass and greenish stone. Around the building is the picturesque park Kadriorg. Kumu exhibits collections of Estonian masters from the 18th – 21st centuries. Divided into temporary periods, the expositions can be viewed in several thematic halls of the gallery.
The Naval Museum, located in the former aircraft hangars. Here is presented the real military equipment that took part in the battles: submarines, ships, aircraft and even a steam icebreaker. Many exhibits are the only surviving examples of military equipment. The museum also has a cinema and a playground for young children.
Monument to the battleship "Mermaid"
A monument designed by the sculptor Adamson, dedicated to the warship that sank in 1893. The ship sank as a result of a suddenly erupted 9-point storm, 177 crew members died. After the elements subsided, the search crews found only a few lifeboats. Further searches for the ship continued for 40 years. The monument was built with donations.
Palace and park ensemble Kadriorg
An artificially created park with a magnificent Baroque palace. The complex was built by Emperor Peter I for his wife Catherine. The area of the park is about 70 hectares. Here you can walk along numerous alleys, admire fountains, gardens, flower beds, as well as sculptures created by Estonian craftsmen. The landscapes of Kadriorg are reminiscent of Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo. There is a house-museum of Peter the Great in the park.
An ensemble with a park from the end of the 19th century, located in the city district of Nõmme. The castle was built according to the design of Baron von Glen in the medieval architectural style on the slopes of the Mustamägi hill. The labor of Tallinn prisoners was actively used at the construction site. In addition to the castle, the project included churches, a town hall, a mud bath and a post office. Apparently, the baron planned to lay a whole city on this site.
The former summer residence of the Orlov-Davydov count family in the suburbs of Tallinn (the old name of the city is Revel). Under them, the estate was named Marienberg in honor of the wife of Count Maria. After the victory of the Revolution in 1917, the aristocratic family emigrated to Europe, and after some time the castle began to be used as the residence of the Dutch consul. Since 1975, a branch of the Estonian History Museum has been located here.
The ancient fortress rises in the heart of Tallinn on the hill of the same name. The building has more than seven centuries of history. The Estonian parliament sits on the territory of the complex. The stronghold was founded by the Danish king Valdemar II. One of the watchtowers of the castle is the Tower of Long Herman, reaching a height of almost 100 meters above sea level. The Estonian national flag flies at the top of the tower.
An important cultural landmark of the capital of Estonia. There is a stage in the form of a shell, as well as a sculpture by Gustav Ernesaks (the famous composer, inspirer and founder of the national Song Festivals in the 19th century, which are held every five years). The field also hosts major music events, rock festivals, and famous pop stars perform.
The zoo appeared in the capital of Estonia in the 40s. XX century. Now it is home to several thousand representatives of the world fauna. Main expositions: bird park, animals of the arctic zone, animals of the tropical zone, elephants. On the territory of the zoo there are circles engaged in the study of animals. A petting zoo and an adventure park with various interesting attractions are organized for children.
Estonian Open Air Museum Rocca al Mare
Located 10 km. from the capital near Kopli Bay. The museum was founded in the 80s. XX century, it is a complex of buildings from different periods of Estonian history: peasant houses, mills, churches, forges, fishermen's huts, forges. Here you can get acquainted with the life and culture of the local population. Visitors are also given the opportunity to walk through the picturesque park and get some fresh air.
Tallinn TV tower
The tallest building in the country, reaching 314 meters in height. The TV tower is a popular tourist and cultural center. People come here to visit the observation deck at a height of 170 meters, dine in a restaurant, watch interactive installations that tell about the history of Estonia and just admire the futuristic interiors. The rebuilt TV tower was reopened in 2012.
This area originated in the 19th century and was used for the construction of industrial enterprises and warehouses. Thanks to a recent extensive renovation with the participation of leading European architects, the quarter has become a trendy and popular place. Large international companies have placed their offices here, restaurants, stylish hotels and galleries of modern art have appeared.
Olde Hansa Restaurant
The institution is located in the Old Town in the former home of a wealthy merchant. The restaurant attracts visitors with its ancient interior. Candles are lit here, antique furniture stands, tables are served with elegant dishes, and live music plays in the evenings. Olde Hansa's menu includes bear roast, elk stew, rose petal pudding, cinnamon beer and many more dishes created according to old recipes.