Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and it is also its largest city with a population of approximately 450,000 inhabitants. The city was founded about 5000 years ago and it has been conquered by many nations, including Denmark, Sweden, Russia and Germany. Nevertheless, Tallinn has never been razed and pillaged, so the Old Town still retains much of its medieval charm.
The official language of Tallinn is Estonian, which is somewhat similar to Finnish. Approximately 50% of the population speaks Estonian as their native language and 47% speaks Russian as their native language. You can hear both languages as you walk down the street.
High defensive walls with strategically positioned turrets surround the Old Town of Tallinn. These are remnants of a time when battles were still fought with bows and arrows.
Tall Hermann sounds like the nickname of a person, but it is an ancient defensive tower standing at the south-western corner of Toompea Castle in Tallinn.
Tallinn is located on hilly terrain. You really get a workout walking around town. Tallinn is the financial and business center of Estonia. The city has a highly diversified economy with particular strength in information technology and software development.
Wear good shoes and be careful when you walk on the streets of Tallinn. The streets in the oldest portions of the city have round cobblestones that make walking difficult. The newer sections of the city are paved with regularly shaped cobblestone bricks. I did not see any women wearing high-heel shoes when I was in Tallinn.
The parliament of Estonia is located in a small square across from the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is an orthodox cathedral in the Old Town area of Tallinn. The cathedral was built between 1894 and 1900 when Estonia was ruled by the Russian Empire.
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral has has three altars decorated with Russian Orthodox icons, and the spires have eleven bells cast in Saint Petersburg. Tours frequently make a stop here to listen to concerts of sacred music.
The Song Festival Grounds in Tallinn have an open air amphitheater at the bottom of a grass-covered hillside with a capacity of 300,000 spectators. Festivals are held here every five years and up to 30,000 performers sing in large choirs. On top of the hillside facing the amphitheater sits a statue of Gustav Ernesaks (1908-1993) who was a famous Estonian composer and choir conductor.
Raekoja plats is a town square in front of the Tallinn Town Hall, called Raekoda in Estonian. It is in the center of the Tallinn Old Town
The intersection of Vene and Vanaturu Kael is near the center of the Old Town and it is busy with tourists from many parts of the world.
Tallinn's Old Town has many restaurants.
Many streets in Tallinn are narrow and lined with well-maintained three-story buildings. This picture shows the spire of St. Mary's Cathedral while walking north from the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral along Toom-Kooli street.
One reason why old buildings are only three stories high is because there were no elevators when the buildings were constructed and people had to walk up and down the stairs for their daily activities.
St. Mary's Cathedral was built around 1219 when the Danes invaded Tallinn. The structure was originally made of wood, but it was later rebuilt into a stone structure. St. Mary's Cathedral is the oldest church in Estonia and survived a 17th-century fire. St. Mary's was originally a Roman Catholic cathedral, it became Lutheran in the 16th century and now belongs to the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The Toompea Hill overlook attracts a lot of tourists. Some modern buildings can be seen in the distance beyond the Old Town.
This view shows the tops of the turrets of the Medieval wall, the spires of several churches, and cruise ships in Tallinn's harbor.