Traveling in Tallinn, Estonia

We felt like we'd stepped back in time when we toured this medieval masterpiece. Tallinn, Estonia - pronounced Talleen by our guide – is a place of contrasts, with a bustling city center, and an old town which recent restoration has only improved. Our focus this day was on the cultural and historical gold mine of old town.

  • We decided to take a walking tour, about 2 ½ hours which started in upper Old Town. After walking up Toompea Hill we viewed Toompea Castle, an imposing structure which is now home of the Estonian parliament. After that we ducked into the Alexander Nyvesky Cathedral, an awe inspiring edifice built in the Russian orthodox style and topped with great onion domes. Inside you'll find majestic mosaics and ancient icons.
  • Next you come to St. Mary's cathedral which is a simple but beautiful church. Inside you'll find hundreds of coats of arms decorating the inner walls. Also the oldest church in Estonia, St. Mary's was built of wood in 1219 and has the distinction of being one of the few buildings in Tallinn to survive a 17th century fire.
  • For a stunning scenic view you'll want to stand at the upper wall of this area and gaze over the roof tops of lower Old Town. From there you can see the steeple of the tallest building in medieval Europe – Saint Olaf's Cathedral. Photographers don't miss this shot.
  • From there we wound our way through the cobbled streets to lower Old Town. Here you find the city proper, with old homes which belonged to important citizens. The size and glamour of your front door was an indication of your rank in society.
  • One of the buildings - at number 58 Pikk Street, has a grim but notable history. One quickly notices that the basement windows are bricked over. This was the KGB headquarters, where Soviet agents interrogated "enemies of the state". The bricked over windows served as soundproofing to spare the general public. The dark joke amongst Estonians was that this was the tallest building in Estonia, because you could see Siberia from the basement.
  • While touring this part of town make sure and stop in at the Kalev Martzipan museum / pastry shop. Their chocolate orange cake is heavenly.
  • Other places we would have liked to see had we more time were the Song Fest Stadium - important to the history of Estonia's long journey to independence, and St. Bridget's ancient convents.

Estonia is a charming and compelling city. Make sure to visit if you're in the area.

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Friday, 29 May 2020
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