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Tallin is one of the best preserved Baltic cities. Most of the tourist attractions of Tallinn are located in the medieval old town which keeps its charm intact. There are paved streets, walls, churches and ancient buildings still well preserved. The historic center of Tallinn is formed by the upper town, located on the Toompea hill, and the lower town, which preserves the medieval layout and is still surrounded by walls. Tallinn is a complete and well-preserved example of a medieval merchant city in northern Europe. For this reason, in 1997, UNESCO included the historic center of Tallinn on the list of world heritage sites.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OF TALLINN: THE LOW CITY
The visit to the tourist attractions of Tallinn starts from the lower town. This area of the city is the best preserved part of old Tallin, still today almost completely surrounded by turreted walls. The entrance to the city is carried out by what remains of the Viru Gate (Viru väravad). This gate was built in the 14th century, and was one of the most important gates in the city, today only two towers remain of this gate.
From here a short detour to the north takes us to the St. Catherine’s Passage (Katariina käik), located between the Vene and Müürivahe streets. The passage is made up of 15th and 17th century houses which house craft shops. Here is also the Cloistered monastery and the Dominican Claustrum (Dominiiklaste kloostri klausuuris, Dominiiklaste klooster), it is the oldest convent of Tallin, founded in 1246. Inside there is the Church of St. Catherine (Katariina kirik), of 14th century.
THE TOWN HALL SQUARE
The lower town has its center in the Town Hall Square (Raekoja platsi), this was the old market square, today, in the summer, is the cultural center of the city life, full of outdoor cafes, concerts are held there, markets and fairs, while in winter it is the place where the Christmas tree is erected and where is the Christmas market. On the square is the town hall of Tallinn (Tallinna Raekoda) building in late Gothic style. This is one of the symbols of the city, built in the thirteenth century, was rebuilt between 1402 and 1404, and it contains some interesting rooms, including the Hall of the Citizens and the Council Hall.
Another interesting building, located at the corner of Town Hall Square (Raekoja platsi) is the Town Hall Pharmacy (Raeapteek), one of the oldest pharmacies still operating in Europe, it is found to exist since 1422. A short distance away is the Church of the Holy Spirit (Puha Vaimu kirik), an interesting church of the fourteenth century, the bell tower is the oldest bell tower in Estonia, and its clock is the oldest public clock in Tallinn. The interior of the church is richly decorated with wood carvings, while the altar from 1483 is one of the most valuable works of medieval art in Estonia.
THE PALACE OF CORPORATIONS
Just north of the Town Hall Square (Raekoja platsi), is the Palace of Corporations (Eesti Ajaloomuuseum-Suurgildi hoone), now the Estonian Museum of History, this was of importance, the second civil building of medieval Tallinn, was the palace where met the merchant guilds of the city. The palace was built between 1407 and 1417 and still has its original façade with the arms of the corporations and the date 1430 above the entrance. An interesting Renaissance palace is that of the House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads (Mustpeade maja), used since the sixteenth century by this confraternity of merchants, it has a facade in the Dutch Renaissance style, to signal the beautiful front door of 1640, inside there is the Hall of Brotherhood with two aisles and vaulted ceiling.
Then we come to the Historical Museum of the City of Tallinn (Tallinna Linnamuuseum), continuing towards the northern end of the lower town we reach the church of St. Olav (Oleviste kirik), an ancient Gothic church built in the thirteenth century, the spire of the bell tower of the church, was the highest of medieval Europe, reaching 159 meters in height.
THE ANCIENT WALLS
Within walking distance you can reach the impressive city walls at the point where it opens the Great Coastal Gate and the Tower Margareeta (Great Coastal Gate ja Paks Margareeta), two defensive structures of the city walls on the side facing the sea, near the port. The gate was rebuilt in the sixteenth century and in the occasion was added the big round tower called Margareeta, 20 meters high and with a diameter of 25 meters, it served to defend the port, but it was also used as a store of gunpowder and weapons and also as a prison. Today the tower is home to the Maritime Museum of Estonia (Eesti Meremuuseum), we have very beautiful view of the city from the top of the tower.
We continue our journey along a long stretch of the north-western walls this section has a number of defensive towers, the walls date back to the thirteenth and the sixteenth century, they were originally 16 meters high and 3 meters thick, and completely surrounded the city for about 4 km with 46 towers, today, this powerful defense system, at the time one of the most powerful of northern Europe, have 2 km of walls and 26 towers. In this part of the walls are the medieval towers of Nunna (Nunnatorni), Sauna (Saunatorni) and Kuldjala (Kuldjalatorni) that can be visited and from which we can have a beautiful view of the lower town and on the hill of Toompea.
THE CHURCH OF SAINT NICHOLAS
Continuing south we reach the Church of St. Nicholas (Niguliste kirik) and the adjacent Museum of St. Nicholas (Niguliste muuseumis), this thirteenth-century church has a Renaissance atrium and a Gothic chapel dedicated to St. Anthony, here is the painting “Dance Macabre” by Berndt Notke of Lübeck from the late fifteenth century. The church museum contains three important works of medieval art. Prior to entry into the upper part of the city is worth a visit to the Tower Cannons (Kiek in de Kok), once the most powerful cannon tower of the Baltic Sea, built in the fifteenth century, round in shape, had a diameter of 17 meters, a height of 38 meters and a thickness of 4 meters. Today, the tower houses an exhibition on the military history of the city from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OF TALLINN: THE UPPER TOWN
We then enter into the upper town, situated on the hill of Toompea, once a separate town (Dom zu Reval), the residence of the power that controlled the city, there are three main buildings located on the hill: the Toompea Castle, the Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral and the Lutheran Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin.
THE TOOMPEA CASTLE
Toompea Castle (Toompea loss) and high Hermann Tower (Pika Hermannitorni), are among the most important works of fortification of Estonia, the castle was built between the thirteenth and fourteenth century and dominates the city from the hill 50 meters in height. Today the castle is the seat of the Estonian Parliament. The tower of Hermann, the most impressive of the fortress, 48 meters high, is located in the southwestern part of the castle and was built in the fourteenth century.
THE ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL AND THE LUTHERAN CATHEDRAL
In the square of the castle is also the Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (Aleksander Nevski katedraal), building quite recently, it was built in 1900, the building has the largest dome in the city, inside the church is richly decorated, and is dedicated to the Prince of Novgorod, Alexander Nevsky Yaroslavitz. A short distance from the Orthodox Cathedral there are also the Danish King’s Gardens (Taani kuninga aed), the place where according to legend the Danes Danes received from above their national flag. The Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin (Toomkirik), is the largest Lutheran church in the city and in the nation, the church building dates back to the thirteenth century, but the church is baroque, inside there are tombs of the thirteenth century.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OF TALLINN: OUTSIDE THE HISTORICAL CENTER
To complete the visit to Tallinn some tourist attractions remain outside the historical center: the most important, is located about 2 km east of the historical center, and is undoubtedly the Kadriorg Palace (Kadrioru loss). It is the Baroque palace built in the eighteenth century as a summer residence for the Tsar of all Russias Peter I Romanov (called Peter the Great). The works began in 1718 and were entrusted to the Italian Niccolò Marchetti. At the time of its construction the palace was called Ekaterinenthal, or Catherinenthal, in honor of the Tsar’s wife, Catherine I. The building is currently used as the seat of the foreign collection of art of the Estonian Art Museum KUMU, and there are several other museums. The Kadriog palace is surrounded by a large park, near the ancient Tsarist palace there is also the residence of the Estonian head of state.
In the suburb of Pirita, 2 km north – east of Kadriorg are the ruins of the Convent of St Bridget (Pirita Kloostri varemed), founded in 1407, in the Gothic style, was one of the most important monasteries in the country, which was destroyed in the second half of the sixteenth century today there are evocative ruins.
THE MUSEUMS OF TALLINN
There are numerous museums in the city of Tallinn, among which we highlight: the Kadrioru loss – Kadrioru Kunstimuuseum Museum in the Kadriorg Palace where you can visit the rooms of the Kadriorg palace and the foreign art collection of the Estonian Art Museum KUMU. The Kumu Kunstimuuseum Museum that is the Estonian Art Museum. The Mikkeli muuseum another art museum with Chinese porcelain, Flemish and Dutch paintings, Italian engravings.
In the city there are also a Museum of the History of Photography (Raevangla Fotomuuseum), a museum on the military history of Tallin (Kiek in de Kök), the Doll Museum (Lastemuuseum). Theater and Music Museum: with ancient musical instruments (Eesti Teatri-ja Muusikamuuseum). Among the most curious are the museum of antique furniture (Peeter I majamuuseum), the Museum of Mines (Miinimuuseum) and the Estonian Maritime Museum-Museum of Ships (Eesti Meremuuseum-Muuseumilaevade sadam).
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