City Guide: Tallinn

Tallinn is one of three Baltic capitals and ideally located by the sea for cruise ships or visitors from Finland. The Estonian capital has a beautiful historic centre and also a beach.

While we were very unlucky weather wise during our short trip to Tallinn as you will see on the pictures, we still enjoyed admiring the medieval buildings in the centre. Due to the weather we did, however, skip a trip to the beach or coast – it was just too cold and rainy!

The Parliament of Estonia

This city guide will thus give you an overview of the major sites in the historic old city of Tallinn.

Estonia Theatre

The Estonia Theatre is a little bit outside of the historic town centre, but still worth a visit. It houses the Estonian National Opera and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra in its two wings.

National Theatre Tallinn

National Theatre Tallinn

The theatre is a Jugenstil building designed by two Finnish architects. At the time of its opening in 1913 it was Tallinn’s largest building. During the Second World War it got, however, severely damaged and was reconstructed in a more Stalinist style.

Freedom Square – Celebrations of the European Union presidency

The Freedom Square is located in the southern end of the old town of Tallinn.

At this square you can find St. John’s church, Kaarli Boulevard, an underground shopping center as well as the Victory Column in remembrance of the Estonian War of Independence.

St. John's Church Tallinn

St. John’s Church Tallinn

The Freedom Square is a fairly recent construction, up to 2010 this used to be a parking spot.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The orthodox cathedral is located on top of Toompea hill and stands out quite remarkably in contrast to the rest of Tallinn’s architecture. It is part of the heritage from being part of the Russian Empire.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is the largest orthodox cupola cathedral in Tallinn, but was highly disliked by the Estonians as a sign of Russian oppression. In 1924 it was scheduled to be demolished but its demolition was never implemented due to a lack of funds.

Bastion Passages

Underneath Toompea hill you can find the 17th century tunnels that were part of an expansive defensive system built during Swedish rule. These tunnels were constructed under the base of the high bastion walls due to a consistent worry of an attack.

Some parts of these tunnels were rarely used in the past and transformed into bomb shelters during World War Two. Further modernization processes occurred during the Soviet period. You can go on a tour of these passages to explore the historical stages of these tunnels. There is even a slow train ride involved.

Kohtuotsa viewpoint overlooking Tallinn

This platform offers a great scenic view of Tallinn. You don’t only get to see the St. Olav church, but also many parts of the town wall and its defensive towers.

Some parts of this medieval fortification can still be visited as well!

Town Hall and historic pharmacy

The square around the town hall is located right in the centre of the old town. During the winter period it houses a popular Christmas market, during summer time visitors can enjoy the view from the town hall’s tower.

Close to the town hall you can also find a historic pharmacy which is the oldest pharmacy still operative in Europe.

Town Hall Pharmacy Tallinn

Town Hall Pharmacy Tallinn

It also now incorporates a museum and just looks very cool from the inside!

Overall impressions

Considering the weather wasn’t optimal to put it mildly, we didn’t feel like walking around for hours, but we nevertheless enjoyed our brief visit of the old town with its many historic buildings. I particularly enjoyed admiring the Orthodox Church as well as checking out the old pharmacy as it is something special I had never seen before. I also very much liked that the medieval fortifications were in such a good condition and would love to return to learn more about this Baltic city’s history!


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