Tallinn, Estonia

May 2001

 

In May, I went to the beautiful city of Tallinn in Estonia for the weekend. For those of you who are going "Estonia what?", Estonia is a former soviet republic that broke away from the old USSR in 1991 along with the the other Baltic republics of Latvia and Lithuania.  

 

Tallinn is the capital.   

 

 

So what is Tallinn? Well, besides being a great place to spend a long weekend, Tallinn is one of the few places in Europe where the aura of the 14th and 15th centuries survive intact. Tallinn's old town is a jumble of medieval walls and turrets, needling spires and winding, cobbled streets.  It's also meant to have a thumping night life like Riga although I didn't see much sign of it, the weekend I was there.  Even the locals said it was a bit quiet.  

 

I wasn't completely on my lonesome however. My gorgeous and way too energetic friend Julia came all the way from Riga (next door to Estonia in Latvia) to keep me company. All in all, a pretty good weekend.

 

Toompea

Toompea is the hill on which Tallinn is centred and overlooks the main town.  

 

Cool towers just on the hill.  Also contained a restaurant where Julia and I had lunch.

 

Toompea Castle, the meeting place of Estonia's parliament, the Riigikogu.  Doesn't really look like a castle although it is surrounded by towers.  Nice colour.  Looks like the guys from Dulux have gone mad about the place.

 

Pikk Herman, the main tower of the Castle.

 

Garden to one side of the castle.

 

One of the remaining towers of Toompea Castle not quite towering above offices attached to the parliament building.

 

The 19th century Russian Orthodox Alexandr Nevsky Cathedral opposite Toompea Castle.  Pretty cool, especially since it's the 1st real Russian Orthodox Cathedral that I've even seen.

 

Side street in Toompea.

 

Another side street in Toompea.  Julia looking cute on the left.

 

Cool old building to one side of the Estonia Art Museum.

 

House on Toompea.

 

Alleyway.

 

Toomkirik, a Lutheran church.

 

The tower of the Toomkirik.

 

Pikk Jalg (long leg) gate tower, until the 17th century, the only entrance up to Toompea.

 

Cool old building flying the Estonia national flag on the Patkuli Trapp pathway down to the old town.

 

Same building a little bit further down the hill.  No clue what it is, but if it had a pool out the front Hollywood style, it'd be perfect.

 

Julia pretending to be a statue in an alcove on the pathway down from Toompea.

 

Toompea Lookouts

Standing over the old town, Toompea is a great place to get some cool pictures. 

 

Love this one!  A view of the old town from a lookout point on Toompea.  Check out the little castle turrets near the centre and the colourful buildings below.

 

Slightly more modern view of the city to the left. Two big buildings in the centre are the Raddison SAS and the Hotel Viru.  Definitely more luxurious than the slightly quirky Hotel Susi that Julia and I stayed in just on the edge of town.  

 

Speaking of which, while I was in the cab from the airport to the Hotel Susi, the radio was playing "What should we do with a drunken sailor?" in Estonian.  Weird. 

 

Niguliste Church.  Not used as a church anymore.  There is a debate over which religion can use it but in the meantime, it's used as an art museum and for concerts.

 

Puavaimu (Holy Spirit) Church

 

To the left, the western edge of old town.

 

An unbelievably good looking wind swept guy.  Man, I'm really starting to gain face (i.e. go bald). Edge of old town in the background.

 

Julia smiling for the camera.

 

Me, Julia.....and the the tongue.

 

Outer Walls Of The Old Town

The old town is surrounded by a heap of Disney-ish towers.  The dark photos (unfortunately) don't really do them justice.

 

Tower on the outer wall.

 

Series of tower on the western side of the old town.

 

Old tower up close.

 

Tower leading up to Toompea.

 

Vase on the stairs in the park beneath Toompea.

 

Inside The Old Town

Viru gate on the eastern side of the old town.  Looks a bit like Disneyland.

 

Markets inside the city wall selling lots of different handicrafts.

 

Raekoja Plats.  Basically the town hall square.  According to my trusty lonely planet guide, the town hall is the only surviving gothic town hall in Northern Europe.  Don't know how many there were to start with but there you go.  Had some really cool dragon/snake shaped rainwater pipes.  You can just make them out beneath the roof line.

 

Raekoja Plats again.  This time with Julia posing in front of the building.  Tres bon!

 

More Raekoja Plats off to the right.  

 

Street off the left hand side of Raekoja Plats.

 

Cool restaurant sign.

 

A street in the lower town.

 

Another street.  Love the bright colours of the buildings.

 

An alleyway.

 

Another alleyway.

 

Plaque on building.  No idea what it represents.

 

Another street.  As well as the bright colours, I also like the look of decay of the buildings.

 

As personified by this decaying old mansion.  Renovator's dream! Make us an offer!

 

Decaying mansion in close up.

 

Sign over a pub. Note the local beer.

 

The streets of Tallinn.  I think I took it in the upper town near Pikk Jalg.

 

Alleyway.

 

Green mansion.  Really stands out among all the green buildings.  Saw it in the lower town while I was wondering back from checking out Fat Margaret.  Tried out some great pastries in a coffee shop pretty close to where this photo was taken.

 

Niguliste Church.  

 

Niguliste Church again from the other side.  The signs commemorate the bombing of Tallinn during World War 2 by the Soviet Air Force during 1944.  Guess the locals were not too happy with it.  Hence the reminder.

 

Close up of the sign.

 

Signs again.  I kind of like this photo.  Especially the green, the side of the church, the rusted fence posts and the signs.

 

Inside the old town was the remains of a Dominican Monastery.  Wasn't that exciting but I went in anyway.  Old lady feeding pigeons outside the entrance to the monastery.

 

Apparently, if you stand in the centre of the basement room underneath the carved ceilings, something spiritual will happen.  Stood there, closed eyes and swayed from side to side. Could have been spiritual but most probably I was just having problems staying upright due to tiredness and boredom.

 

Speaking of tiredness, the two hotels Julia and I stayed in had painfully thin curtains.  Given that the sun was coming up at three in the morning, it made it difficult to sleep properly.  I really need a gloomy cave like setting to sleep.  Having Julia with me didn't help the quest for sleep much, but some things, you don't mind. 

 

Hole in the wall or ceiling taken in a really arty style (bored).

 

Fat Margaret

Next to the Great Coast Gate joining the port to the town is Fat Margaret, a 16th century bastion/fort/fat building full of guns, which protected the entrance to the old town.  According to the guide, the walls are 4 metres thick.  It's a bit different to all the other parts of the town but impressive none the less.

 

Fat Margaret.  The white cross on the left hand side stands in memory of the Estonia ferry disaster which claimed 852 lives when in sank on September 1994 whilst en route between Stockholm and Tallinn.

 

Close up of Fat Margaret showing the Great Coast Gate on the right hand side.

 

Click here for more pictures of Tallinn