A medieval marvel: Tallin, Estonia

Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia, situated on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, about 80 km (50 mi) south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm, and west of Saint Petersburg.
Founded in 1248, the earliest human settlements date back to 3000 years BC, making it one of the oldest capital cities of Northern Europe. Due to its important strategic location the city soon became a major trade hub, especially between the 14th to 16th century when it grew to be a key center of commerce within the Hanseatic League. Today, Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the best preserved and intact medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

tallin-panoramaPanorama of All-linn (Lower Old Town) taken from Toompea (Upper Old Town), Tallinn, Estonia
tallin-festival-groundsThe Tallinn Song Festival Grounds is where, in 1988, the Spring Revolution set Estonia on its road towards independence;
the site now hosts the “Song and Dance Celebration” every 5 years with 24,000 singers and 200,000 spectators
tallin-st-aleksanderSt. Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, completed in 1900, sits atop Toompea Hill (upper Old Town);
it was built to reflect Russian dominance over the territory at that time
tallin-st-aleksander-interiorThe highly decorated Russian Orthodox interior of St. Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral
tallin-limestone-buildingA rare example of a 19th century building with the limestone blocks exposed –
the later construction method was to then cover the facades with plaster painted in a variety of bright hues
tallin-old-town-wallA portion of the old town wall in Toompea (upper Old Town); the walls, constructed in the 13th century,
covered a circumference of 1.9 km (1.2 mi) and are one of Europe’s best preserved medieval fortifications

In Old Town (both the upper section, Toompea Hill, and the lower section, All-linn) cobblestone streets wind along the remnants of a powerful medieval city wall, past its gates and guard towers and spread out in between narrow row houses. Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) is surrounded by sunny, pastel-colored structures, leaving the center open for the market, as it has been since the 11th century. St. Katherine’s (Katarina’s) Passage has galleries set up in vaulted cellar rooms.

tallin-town-hallTallinna Raekoda (Town Hall), dates back to the early 15th century (the weathervane atop the spire was first placed there in 1530);
it is now used for concerts and select political events
tallin-cafesA long row of shops and cafes along one side of Raekoja Plats (Town Hall square)
tallin-shopAn old shop on the corner of the Raekoja Plats (Town Hall square), dating back to the 15th century
tallin-catherine-passageHome to St. Catherine’s Guild, St. Catherine’s passage is one of the most picturesque sites in All-linn (Lower Old Town);
15th to 17th century rooms for artisans line the lane, adjacent to the Dominican Monastery
tallin-viru-gateOne of the two Viru Gates towers that were part of the larger and more complex defense system
that once protected All-linn (Lower Old Town), built in the 14th century
tallin-restaurant-frontA fantastical dining scene tableau at the storefront window of the 2-year old, all local products restaurant, “Farm”,
near the Viru Gates where, with friends, we had an incredible Estonian dinner

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