Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, 80 km (50 mi) south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is ranked as a global city and has been listed among the top 10 digital cities in the world. The city was a European Capital of Culture for 2011, along with Turku, Finland.
Tallinn is the oldest capital city in Northern Europe. The city was known as Reval from the 13th century until 1917.
In 1285 the city became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Tallinn along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Knights in 1346. Medieval Tallinn enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. The city, with a population of 8,000, was very well fortified with city walls and 66 defence towers.
With the start of the Protestant Reformation the German influence became even stronger as the city was converted to Lutheranism. In 1561 Tallinn politically became a dominion of Sweden.
During the Great Northern War, plague stricken Tallinn along with Swedish Estonia and Livonia capitulated to Imperial Russia in 1710, but the local self-government institutions (Magistracy of Reval and Chivalry of Estonia) retained their cultural and economical autonomy within Imperial Russia as the Duchy of Estonia. The Magistracy of Reval was abolished in 1889. The 19th century brought industrialization of the city and the port kept its importance. During the last decades of the century Russification measures became stronger.
|St. Olaf's Church|
In August 1991 an independent democratic Estonian state was re-established and a period of quick development to a modern European capital ensued. Tallinn became the capital of a de facto independent country once again on 20 August 1991.
Tallinn has historically consisted of three parts:
The Old Town, which is the old Hanseatic town, the "city of the citizens", was not administratively united with Cathedral Hill until the late 19th century. It was the centre of the medieval trade on which it grew prosperous.
The Estonian town forms a crescent to the south of the Old Town, where the Estonians came to settle. It was not until the mid-19th century that ethnic Estonians replaced the local Baltic Germans as the majority amongst the residents of Tallinn.
Estonia has made rapid economic progress since independence and this is reflected in local prices. Although not extortionate, neither are prices as cheap as in other former Eastern Bloc countries.
The main attractions are in the two old towns (Lower Town and Toompea) which are both easily explored on foot. Eastern districts around Pirita and Kadriorg are also worth visiting and the Estonian Open Air Museum (Eesti Vabaõhumuuseum) in Rocca al Mare, west of the city, preserves aspects of Estonian rural culture and architecture.
- The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is an orthodox cathedral in the Tallinn Old Town. It was built to a design by Mikhail Preobrazhensky in a typical Russian Revival style between 1894 and 1900, during the period when the country was part of the Russian Empire. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Tallinn's largest and grandest orthodox cupola cathedral. It is dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky who in 1242 won the Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipus, in the territorial waters of present-day Estonia. The late Russian patriarch, Alexis II, started his priestly ministry in the church.
- The War of Independence Victory Column is located in Freedom Square. It was opened on 23 June 2009 as a memorial for those who fell during the Estonian War of Independence, through which the people of Estonia will be able to commemorate all those who had fought for freedom and independence. The pillar is 23.5 meters high and consists of 143 glass plates. The memorial incorporates the Cross of Liberty, Estonia’s most distinguished award established in 1919.
- Toompea Castle is a castle on the limestone hill of Toompea in the central part of Tallinn, which for a time was also one of the names for the whole settlement of Tallinn during the times of Danish Estonia in the 13th and 14th centuries.The first wooden castle (in some Finnic sources referred to as Kesoniemi), is believed to have been built on the hill in either the 10th or 11th century by residents of the ancient Estonian county of Rävala (Revalia). It was probably one of the first inhabited areas of what later became Tallinn. The much-rebuilt Toompea Castle, topped by the Pikk Hermann tower, still dominates Toompea today. It houses the Parliament of Estonia.
- St. Olaf’s Church or St. Olav's Church is believed to have been built in the 12th century and to have been the centre for old Tallinn's Scandinavian community before Denmark conquered Tallinn in 1219. Its dedication relates to King Olaf II of Norway (a.k.a. Saint Olaf, 995-1030). The first known written records referring to the church date back to 1267, and it was extensively rebuilt during the 14th century. Around 1500, the building reached a height of 159 meters. The motivation for building such an immensely tall steeple must have been to use it as a maritime signpost, which made the trading city of Tallinn visible from far out at sea. Between 1549 and 1625, until the spire burnt down after a lightning strike, it was the tallest building in the world. The steeple of St. Olav has been hit by lightning at least eight times, and the whole church has burned down three times throughout its known existence. Following several rebuildings, its overall height is now 123.7 meters.
- Catherinethal ("Catherine's valley") is a Petrine Baroque palace of Catherine I of Russia in Tallinn. It was built after the Great Northern War to Nicola Michetti's designs by Gaetano Chiaveri and Mikhail Zemtsov. In the 20th century the Estonian version of the name,Kadriorg, gained currency and came to be applied to the surrounding district. The palace currently houses an art gallery. The KUMU Museum is sited in the park. After the successful siege of Reval in 1710 Peter the Great of Russia bought a Dutch-style manor house at Lasnamäe for his wife Catherine. The house today is the result of a drastic renovation ordered by Nicholas I of Russia in 1827. The new palace was started on 25 July 1718. Peter and Catherine visited the unfinished residence on several occasions, but after the emperor's death in 1725 Catherine showed no interest in the seaside property. The great hall with Catherine's initials and profuse stucco decor (attributed to Heinrich von Bergen) survives, but many other interiors have been altered.