Estonia is a beautiful country to visit to see medieval heritage, castles, and cities. And, one of the most charming towns in Estonia is it’s capital Tallinn – with its lively cafes, galleries, and abundance of history.
During my visit to Tallinn, I visited suburban city surrounding areas and the upper City. We first enjoyed a drive through the Soviet style apartment block and pictures private homes, before going on a guided walking tour of Vanalinn, which is the historical Old Town in Tallinn surrounded by a stonewall. This Old Town is divided into the upper City (which is the “newer city”) and the Old City (which is the lower section). Some people think this Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is perhaps the best preserved of its kind in all of Europe.
TALLINN’S TREASURE: VANALINN
Inside the Old Town, there are cobblestone streets and breathtaking views. The upper city’s hilltop location offers the best views of gothic spires and winding streets of the lower town with its ancient bell towers. Here you will also find the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on top of Toompea Hill. This Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox building in the traditional 17th century Russian church style with the signature “onion” domes. It is also the grandest, most lavish Orthodox church in all of Tallinn. It originally was intended as a Russian empire symbol of dominance.
On the other hand, originally established by Danes, the oldest church in Tallinn is the Toomkirik Cathedral – St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was first mentioned in 1233 during a feud supporting the Pope’s legate which later triggering a letter asking permission to name the cathedral and consecrate it in honor of the Virgin Mary. It is also the only building in Toompea that survived the 17th century fire. Currently inside the church you will see a baroque altar, chandeliers, and numerous beautiful Coat of Arms from the 17th – 20th centuries on the walls as decorations. The church also houses many interesting tombs dating back to the 13th and 18th centuries.
Another grand site, on top of Toompea Hill, is the 13th century pink colored Castle known as Toompea Castle. This is where the Estonian parliament meets. Just inside the walls is the Danish King Garden, where you will meet the three monk statutes of Ambrosius, Bartholomeus, and Claudius. These mysterious, faceless statutes are a bit eerie, but their legend is very intriguing.
Legend has it that the Monks were praying for divine intervention for the Danish King during a losing battle. A suddenly out of the sky, a large flag descended down from Heaven. This flag became the national flag of Denmark. See interesting, right!?!
HISTORY WITH RUSSIA
During our tour, the tour guide also shared interesting history about how Russia had taken over Estonia many times. These take overs were not only during long ago times, but also in the not so long ago – 1980s. This is when the Russians would come in the middle of the night and take Estonians and whole families away. If the person was educated or own a lot of land, they were taken. Needless to say, the Estonians were very happy with the Soviet Union was disbanded in the 1990s, and they got their country back. The tour guide said many Estonians still live with fear, in the back of their head, that Russia will come back and take them over. Unfortunately, it seems this same fear is shared by citizens of a few countries near Russia.
Back on a happier note, our visit was in July which is Summer time in Estonia, which also means lots of sunlight. It is only dark for a short period of time, generally after midnight. While we were there, sunrise was at 4:36 AM. And, the high temperature was 71 degrees Fahrenheit. And, just in case you want to know, the current currency there is the Euro.
So, to the final question. Would I go back to visit this place again: Yes. I felt very safe there. It is very clean and has lots of very interesting sights to explore!
To see more photos of Estonia, click here. And, remember to leave a reply below to let me know what you think about this exploration.