The Baltic countries are one of the most beautiful countries in the world. And they contain unforgettable places and landscapes, full of history, such as the Estonian capital, Tallinn, a relatively small city in size and number of inhabitants (less than half a million), with unique monuments and corners and one of the most important ports. of the History of Europe.
Tallinn is located on the southeastern coast of the Gulf of Finland, in the northwestern part of the Republic of Estonia. There are several lakes within the city, the largest being the beautiful Ulemiste Lake, which is also the main source of drinking water for its inhabitants.
The old city of Vanalinn is in its center, to the south of the port and in him the low city and the high one (Toompea) are distinguished.
The origin of the name Tallinn derives from Taani-linn, which means “Danish city”, a term that is justified in the first construction of a fortress on the hill of Toompea, in the period of domination by the Kingdom of Denmark.
Tallinn rose to prominence as a port strategically located between Scandinavia and Russia, making the city a target for Germanic religious-military orders and Danish lords during the period of the so-called Baltic Crusades in the early 13th century.
The city experienced rapid economic growth in ancient times by becoming a key port of the Hanseatic League. Seal skins, honey, leather and blubber were traded and transported to the west and salt, herring, cloth and wine to the east.
Already in the 20th century, during the Soviet times, Tallinn experienced another great economic and demographic growth, becoming the main port of grain transport of the USSR. In 1980 the regatta events of the Moscow Olympic Games were held in Tallinn.
In the late 1980s, the Estonian independence movement began in Tallinn. The catalyst for independence was the Estonian song festival, a traditional event celebrated in the country as a symbol of national identity.
After independence, the center was rehabilitated and new residential areas also emerged such as Peetri, a neighborhood of single-family houses built in an old dried up swamp located south of the airport.
The Old Town of Tallinn was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1997. Its walls, towers, old houses and alleys look like medieval scenery. Even its restaurants and shops have gone to great lengths to achieve that typical medieval look.
We suggest you not miss several must-see spots. Let’s start with the Council Square. It is located in the heart of the medieval city and is a place with a lot of life. It regularly hosts a market for handicrafts, souvenirs and local products, and concerts or large events are frequently held. The main tourist attraction of the square is the imposing City Hall building built in the Gothic style in 1404. At the top is the Vana Toomas (soldier Tomás), placed in 1530 and a symbol of the city since then.
Characteristic and unique are the walls. If the city is known for something, it is for its beautiful walls. The original wooden fortification dated from the end of the 13th century, but the current stone wall began to be built in the 14th century. A place to visit is the terrace of the Dannebrog café, located on the wall itself. Nor should you miss the two doors that are still standing. The most spectacular is the Viru Gate, and at the end of Pikk Street, one of the most beautiful in Tallinn, is the Great Coastal Gate, attached to the Paks Margareeta tower.
Although it is part of the walls it deserves a separate mention. This tower, built around 1470, houses three spaces inside. On one side is the permanent exhibition, spread over 6 floors and focused on the origin of the city, the history of its fortification and different military campaigns. On the other side are the Bastion Tunnels. You can only enter with guided tours and are worth seeing if we are curious to explore the defensive tunnel system of the city, built from 1670. Finally, in the Carved Stone Museum you can admire pieces carved in stone from the medieval times.
Other tourist spots that are worth visiting are the Church of San Olaf, built between the 12th and 13th centuries. The climb to its bell tower offers fabulous views over the city. In the old town we also find other interesting churches, such as the Church of San Nicolás, now converted into a museum of medieval art, the Church of the Holy Spirit, with a 17th century clock on its exterior or the Catholic Cathedral of San Pedro and Saint Paul.
Toompea Hill extends as an appendix to the old town in the southwestern part of it. From there the many foreign powers that have occupied Estonia over the centuries (Swedes, Germans, Danes, Russians …) exercised their power. It is said that whoever managed to hoist her flag on the Pikk Hermann tower of Toompea Castle immediately ruled the country. Today the castle is the seat of the Estonian Parliament. Two other buildings stand out on Toompea Hill: Alexander Nevski Cathedral, home to the Orthodox Church, and St. Mary’s, founded in 1233 and the central building of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Tallinn is a city to be enjoyed from different angles. Perhaps the best viewpoint in town is Patkuli, located in the northern part of Toompea. The views are splendid, with the Church of Saint Olaf in the foreground, the towers and the sea in the background.
The historic center of Tallinn is full of corners and alleys, but perhaps the most picturesque place and where the medieval atmosphere of the city is best breathed is the Passage of Santa Catalina, a street with several workshops where glass is handcrafted. ceramics and different and typical types of fabrics. To finish our visit we cannot forget the Tallinn City Museum that collects all the history of this incredible small and great capital.
Tallinn is a city of dreams. A place that takes us to another time and that cannot be compared to any other in the world. There is no more beautiful enclave in Northern Europe. Only perhaps, although with other dimensions, the great city of Saint Petersburg could be compared to it.