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Home Page > Travelogues > Estonia > Tallinn

Available chapters in this travelogue:  Toompea ] City Center ] Pirita ] Surroundings ]


Tallinn -- Well-Preserved and Cozy Baltic Port City


Also click here to read about my experience at the EuroVision 2002 Song Contest, held this year in Tallinn!

Looking on a map of Eastern Europe, it was not difficult to understand why the Baltic port of Tallinn was coveted by all the various Germanic and Russian/Soviet empires. Sitting on the southern coast of the Bay of Finland, Tallinn occupied one end of a strategic land bridge from the Baltic Sea to Novograd in Russia. Indeed, Tallinn's main railway did not go south to its Baltic neighbors, it ran eastward directly to Moscow. Yet, it was also on the rolls of the famous Hanseatic League, the collective of trading cities along the Baltic, East, and North seas. Tallinn had a rich history -- and now as the capital of the newly-independent country of Estonia, Tallinn was asserting itself as a major bridge between East and West Europe.

Also, Tallinn wonderfully mixes old and new of many cultures. Well-preserved medieval towers and city walls containing modern restaurants and internet cafes. Traditional Estonian merchants selling handmade garb and hardware on the cobblestone streets outside rows of  modernized and refurbished storefronts offering the latest brands from Western Europe and America. A multi-lingual town where nearly everything is translated into German, English, and Russian.   The main draw was the Old Town, which was divided into Upper and Lower sections -- each of these had its own perfectly well-preserved walls and gates.

As the map at right shows, this travelogue is divided into four chapters.  The first chapter is a photo gallery covering the Toompea and the Lower Town (shown in the first photograph).  The Toompea was a walled compound built on the city's highest ground and contained most of the government buildings while providing the best observation points in the town.   Meanwhile, the Lower Town (also known as the Square of Towers) retained over 75% of the original wall and towers.

Meanwhile, the City Center was where all the action was. This chapter describes the Upper Town from the city's main 'entrance' -- the Viru Gate -- and through its streets to find great eating, wonderful museums, and souvenir shopping.  It also included the Town Hall and part of Town Hall Square.

The third chapter covers the Surrounding areas from the harbors to the newly developed areas to the southwest and southeast.  The theme of this chapter is the contrast between the architectural and cultural holdovers of the Soviet area and the rapidly developing new areas.  A primary new structure was the Saku Suurhall that hosted the 2002 EuroVision Song Contest, that sat along a major strip west of town that includes tremendous shopping, access to the city Zoo and Open-Air Museum.  It also touches on Tallinn's rapid integration of the Internet, the proliferation of which has caused some to refer to the country as "e-Stonia".

Finally, there is the chapter on the northeastern coast and harbor known as Pirita.  Starting from the corner of the old downtown, this chapter follows the coastline past the outdoor auditorium where the Baltic's famous "Singing Revolution" began in the late 1980s, spurred by the success of Polish solidarity against Soviet domination.  It includes the Estonian National Museum, the Estonian Olympic Village at Pirita Harbor, and the ruins of St. Brigitte's Convent.  Enjoy!

Available chapters in this travelogue:  Toompea ] City Center ] Pirita ] Surroundings ]

Trip Taken 24-27 May 2002 -- Page Last Updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2006 Tom Galvin  


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