Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and is located in Northern Europe just a 2 hour ferry ride from Helsinki. The first contact with the city was in the Old Town, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The medieval environment is well preserved within the city, from buildings, restaurants to even characters dressed up in the streets. I have seen it all! With the constant snow during my stay the buildings just looked even more out of a fairy tale.
I have spent 3 days in Tallinn, on the first one because I arrived early in the morning I took the time to enjoy myself. I had a nice meal and a hot chocolate in one of the restaurants in the Town Hall Square and then I relaxed in the hotel Jacuzzi.
The other two days I actually had a plan on what to do.
On my first day I decided to do the hop and off bus to give me an idea of the city. I normally like to do this type of buses because they normally hit all the top attractions there are to see and also give all the stories behind it.
The bus always departs from Viru Square which is really easy to find. From there normally 3 lines run with a good amount of buses.
In my case because it’s the winter now it was only me on the bus and there was only one bus all day! I saw that as a positive thing as the bus driver got to be my personal photographer for the trip but at the same time as a consequence I could not leave the bus all the time to see some of the sightseeing’s that I have planned. This journey was very good to learn about Tallinn story of warriors.
What have I learned?
Tallinn tallest building is the Television Tower with 314 meters. Built to improve telecommunication in 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics regatta, became a very important symbol of the Estonian independence.
# Song Festivals mean a lot to Estonians. One of the top attractions to One of the top attractions to see is the Song Festival Stage since 1928 that apparently can hold up to 15,000 singers! The bus drove through and I can tell you the all area including the stage it’s huge! Estonians gathered there to sing patriotic hymns over the power of the Soviet control.
# There is a beach in Tallinn. Yes. And it looks pretty good! It’s in Pirita district and very near the Old Town, so if you come on the summer you can easily stay for a week.
# Reval was actually the name for the city between the 13th century and 1918.
# Under the Old Town there a lot of tunnels and there a lot of theories about it. The most accepted is their use in the WWII as bomb shelters.
# Tallinn is the city of the first Christmas Tree in the world. I was able to witness and participate in the excitement just like in 1441 when they put the first tree up in the Town Hall Square.
What I want to come back to see? Kadriorg Park, Estonian Open Museum and the Botanic Garden.
The best way to get around in the Old Town is by walking. Leave one day just for this and go on an adventure…I got lost several times but that’s the fun part sometimes especially when you find something unexpected!
I started in what they call it Lower Town from the Town Hall Square because it’s the most easy place that you recognize during your stay…believe me!
Town Hall Square
The most iconic square. It has been like this for at least eight centuries. Served as a market in the past and was a meeting place for a lot of merchants. Nowadays it’s the heart of the city with a medieval appearance. It’s also famous for the Christmas tree and the Christmas Market. Apparently there is a circular stone in the middle of the square that from there you can see the top of all five Medieval spires in the city…still looking!!
Town Hall Pharmacy
The Raeapteek, built in 1422 is one of the oldest in Europe still working.
In Tallinn since 1404 this is the oldest town hall in the whole Baltic Region and is one of the symbols of Tallinn. At the top of the town the weather vane was named ‘Old Thomas’ and it’s considered the town’s defender.
St Olaf’s Church
Built in the 13th century was the tallest building in Europe during Middle Age and is the city’s biggest medieval structure. Lightning is known to have struck the tower 10 times!
After this I venture myself in what they call the Upper Town up the hill. Just follow the crowd and in about 10 minutes you will get to Toompea Hill.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The beautiful domed structure is Estonia’s main Russian Orthodox cathedral built in 1900.
This 800 year castle will stay in my memory because as soon as I step inside I was transported to medieval times. That and… the ghost’s stories! So they say that the castle main gate was supposed to prevent ghosts sneaking in from the Danish King’s Garden and that there have been sightings through the tower walls and voices but upon inspection nothing… Another interesting thing was the fact that the Maiden Tower was used as a prison for prostitutes.
Maiden Tower Coffee House: I have done a quick stop for cappuccino in this very impressive coffee house. The access is hard with a lot of very steep stairs but don’t give up because what I found amazed me! I loved the fireplace and the medieval style.
Kohtuotsa Viewing Platform
Just outside of the tower you have this viewing platform with very good views of the Old Town.
Danish King’s gardens
Kiek in de Kök
This tower which name means “Peek into the Kitchen” is so high that in the pass guards joked about that they could peek into the kitchens of the houses below. It was a bomb shelter in the 1944 Sovietic bombings.
The underground passages built in the 17th century were used by the soldiers to move silent against the enemy. They are now open to the public.
It’s where the military parades happen and various concerts take place. Also serves to commemorate Estonia War independence between 1918-1920.
After that I got lost again, wandering around with my map for about 15 minutes and guess what? End up in the Town Hall Square again but this time went down.
A little passage that ends up in the Town Hall Wall and the famous Knit Market is lovely to see. There are a lot of shops that offer ceramics and jewellery workshops. I wish I had more time!
Europe’s best preserved medieval fortifications from the 13th century and one of my favourites because of the sights over the city. Was destroyed in 1994 and restored in 1952. The fairy tale medieval looking town gets a new magic from up there!
This cute little square houses a small flower market and the two towers that were once part of the 14th century gate system of the town.