Located on the other side of Europe, it appeared on the European map in the 12th century. Its name is the abbreviation of the Estonian name Danish Linus that means Castle of the Danes. Victim of the Nazi and Soviet occupation during World War II and integrated into the USSR for about 50 years, of which only became independent in 1991, the town recovered from his wounds with great pride.
It is renowned for its rich historical and cultural heritage and its restored medieval historical centre, “the Old City”. One of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991. The Old City is truly a living monument, recalling the Golden Age of Tallinn history, with cobblestone streets and fairy-tale architecture, church towers, Baroque palaces, small cafes located in sunny squares. The Medieval Old Town also includes Toompea (upper part of the city) and the lower part of the town that is still surrounded by its defensive wall of 2.5 km.
1. Town Hall
The ancient City developed around the Town Hall, in the City Hall Square. The Square has been a market for several centuries. It is surrounded by medieval buildings and houses and one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe dating from the 17th century. The elements that most captivate our attention are the two spouts in the shape of a dragon head and the tower with 115 steps to the top.
2. The Churches
Still in the City Hall Square is possible to visit some churches such as the Holy Spirit, the Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, the St Olav’s Church and the Niguliste Church. The Niguliste Church is one of the most emblematic and one of the many medieval treasures we can find in the city. It dates from the 13th century and has undergone several expansions, additions and restorations over the centuries. The Church of St Olav’s is the city’s biggest medieval structure and has the tallest tower. Between 1549 and 1625, it was one of the tallest buildings in the world with 159 meters high. You need to scale the 258 spiral steps to reach the top, but the view fully justifies the exercise.
3. St Catherine’s Passage
St Catherine’s Passage it’s a (not so) well-kept secret. Is a small alley, formerly known as the Monk’s Alley. It took the name from St Catherine’s church, built here more than 700 years ago. The aisle is also known for is 15th-17th-century residences what gives him a medieval atmosphere.
4. Dominican Monastery
One of the oldest buildings in the city founded in 1246 by the Dominican monks, has been the junction for various cultures throughout the ages. Only the eastern wing of the original Dominican Monastery survives but is a fascinating visit that takes bake in time.
5. The Medieval Wall
No visit to Tallinn will be complete without going through its medieval wall, considered a UNESCO Heritage site in 1997. The Wall embraces the historical centre and has 26 towers. The most famous is the Viru Gate, opening onto the busiest pedestrian street and the Fat Margaret Tower (so called because of its walls spanning 4 m), UNESCO Heritage by its unique importance in maritime trade, maritime jobs, and navigation in the Middle Ages.
The upper part of the city, better known as Toompea Hill, is 50 m above sea level. This area dated from the 13th century when the Danes built the Toompea Castle, which currently coves with different architectural styles, from medieval to Baroque (mirrored on the façade of aa Vibrant pink colour). The upper part of the city is still the ideal place to observe Tallinn, whether on the platform of The Patkuli, whether in the Kohtuotsa. Both with splendid views and different perspectives of the city.
7. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral
Located in Toompea is a grand and impressive Russian cathedral that leaves no one indifferent. It built by Tsar Alexander III in the 19th century. A legend said that it was built on the grave of the local hero Kalev and received the name of a Russian duke, considered holy because he defeated the Livonian Knights (Military Order that carried out the Baltic Crusades undertaken by the Catholic réis of Denmark and Sweden against the pagan peoples of Europe). If you have an opportunity, attend a religious ceremony. It is imposing, full of rituals and a mystique that makes us goosebumps.
Tallinn is definitely a still half-hidden treasure there on the other side of Europe. A city that still manages to conserve the images, smells and flavours of a time à Very missing but has been known to adapt to the new times and to even new freedom.
Not To be missed:
Return to Medieval times by touring the ancient city
Admire the views of the various viewpoints of Toompea.t
Climb to the tower of the Church of St. Olaf for the best view of the town
Visit Cathedral Alexander Nevsky, 19TH century Russian Orthodox Church
Visit a Raeapteek, one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe
How to go and where to stay: Here I have left some suggestions on how to go and where to stay. Our hotel was on the doorstep of the historic centre and had the charm of the city – building Old But with all the facilities of modern life. Recommend.
How to move: walk and tidy map. The City is small and will certainly go through all the points of interest without the need to keep an eye on a map. Enjoy seeing all the details that the city has to offer.
Where to Eat: Throughout the historic centre you will feel the smell of toasted sweet almonds (made according to an old Middle Age recipe), but the local cuisine goes far beyond this snack. Pork is the Queen of Estonian cuisine and enjoys almost anything from the tongue to the skin of the animal. From the places, we spend we recommend two with excellent local food and good beer: Peppersack (Name of a spice merchant – Hans Peppersack) and Olde Hansa (a real trip to the past and the most famous at the local level).
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