Tallinn is one of the oldest cities in Northern Europe. It is quite miniaturized, but unusually rich in its architectural, historical monuments, parks, squares, original traditions, giving it a unique appearance. Most of Tallinn’s attractions are located in the Old Town, which has long been divided into Lower and Upper.
As a rule, tours of Tallinn begin at the cozy Town Hall Square.It is located in the Lower Town, occupies a very small territory and is surrounded by ancient buildings, each of which keeps its own history. Since the Middle Ages, the Town Hall Square has been the heart of the city. Already in the XI century, there was a market here that existed until 1896. Carnivals and festivities were held on the Town Hall Square, and the most favorite holiday among the townspeople was the take-out of the Christmas tree, followed by merry dances. Christmas bazaars take place here today, and in one of the restaurants located around the perimeter of the square, you can plunge into the atmosphere of the 15th century and taste delicious national dishes.
The square is decorated with the Town Hall – one of the most remarkable architectural monuments of Tallinn, which is a magnificent example of Gothic monumental architecture. The interiors of the town hall are decorated almost with austere severity, and the picturesque lunettes and skillfully made openwork carving on wooden panels and benches give the hall a peculiarity.
On Rataskaevu, one of the old streets of the Lower Town, is the building of the former church of Niguliste (St. Nicholas). The first mention of it dates back to 1316. Some ancient church shrines have survived to this day: a carved wooden altar, created in 1482 by the Lübeck artist Hermen Rohde, stone tombstones, emblems, epitaphs, a seven-figure chandelier. The most significant surviving property is a surviving fragment of the famous canvas “The Dance of Death”, owned by the artist Bernt Notke (15th century). Today, the church building houses a museum that also serves as a concert hall, where evenings of old music are held.
Walking along one of the most curious and lively streets of Sayakayyk (Bakery Pass), you will see a magnificent monument of medieval architecture – the Church of the Holy Spirit. The temple, built in the Gothic style, is covered with a tiled roof with stepped gables. Its main value is a multi-fold wooden altar with exquisite carvings and paintings by Bernt Notke.
Many beautiful old buildings are concentrated on Pikk (Long) Street. From time immemorial there lived the rich – aristocrats and large merchants. The merchants built solid stone houses here with enormous cellars and attics, which were used as warehouses. On this street there were also buildings where meetings of the most venerable merchants of the city were held. The most famous of them – the building of the Great Guild, as well as the premises of the guild of St.. Kanuta, Brotherhood of Blackheads, the guild of St. Olai.
On Pikk Street there is another remarkable monument of medieval architecture – the Church of Oleviste. In the city chronicles it was mentioned already in 1267, however, the temple received its current appearance in the XIX century.
If you decide to look at Tallinn from a bird’s eye view, go to Toompea hill, where the Upper Town is located. There you can climb the steps of the Patkulevskaya stairs, walk along Toompea street or along Pikk-Yalg street (Long leg). The last until the XVII century was the only road connecting both parts of Tallinn.
By car to the Upper City, you will arrive on one of the longest city roads – Paldiski Maantee, starting in the center of Tallinn. Before reaching the historic center, take the quiet and cozy Echo street. Here is a charming miniature apartment hotel Revelton Suites. This budget hotel has been recently opened, and here everything shines with novelty, from furniture to a washing machine, microwave and kettle. The rooms are clean, bright and spacious. The hotel staff is friendly and benevolent, and the fact that every morning you will be treated to the freshest croissants will only highlight the homely atmosphere reigning in these family apartments. By the way, for kids there is a separate game room. Another advantage of this apartment over other family-run hotels in Tallinn is the availability of free parking. On foot to the main attractions of the Upper Town from here you can walk for a quarter of an hour.
The appearance of the Upper Town has not changed much since the Middle Ages. Walking slowly through its narrow winding streets, you will see many buildings of the XIV-XV centuries. In this part of Tallinn, there is also the famous Toompea Castle, built at the behest of the King of Denmark, Valdemar II. In those days, part of the Upper Town, which occupies the castle, was called the Little Fortress. The great fortress was called the constructions of the northern part of the hill – the dwellings of feudal lords and the bishop of Tallinn were located here. Several towers were built in Toompea Castle. The highest and most powerful of them, Long Herman, stood guard over Tallinn for more than five centuries.
Another famous landmark of the Upper Town is the Dome Church. This stone building, covered with gray patina of centuries, is crowned by a powerful tower with a spire. The cathedral impresses with its grandeur, evoking admiration for the severity and harmony of the lines. The age of the temple is very respectable: for the first time the Dome Church is mentioned in 1233. Since then, it has experienced many events that changed the appearance of the building. Inside the temple reigns atmosphere of bygone eras. The aura of antiquity is created by numerous epitaphs and emblems on the walls, tombstones on the stone floor, chipped and erased by generations of parishioners. For centuries, the church served as a tomb for prominent members of the nobility, the merchants. The admiral of the Russian fleet, Samuel Greig, the hero of the Chesma battle in 1770, is buried here, and in 1846 Admiral Ivan Krusenstern, the first Russian sailor who made the world tour, was buried in the church.
Traveling through the narrow streets and looking into the stone courtyards of the houses, tightly pressed to each other, you will certainly come to one of the viewing platforms. From here you will discover a delightful panorama of the ancient city, starting at the very ledge of the hill and stretching with its tiled houses, churches, strict spiers, mighty towers to the bay of Tallinn in the distance.