We had an opportunity to spend a day in the capital city of Tallinn in the Baltic country, Estonia. The city is rich in history given its location along the Baltic Sea across from Finland and sandwiched between Russia and Latvia. With a population today of about 437,000 people, Tallinn sees roughly 4.3 million tourists annually — a number that continues to increase.
The earliest settlements in this region were 5,000 years ago with Tallinn being officially established in 1248 A.D. The old part of the city-center is still encircled with its stone walls built during the Middle Ages to protect its inhabitants from the many invading hordes. Watch Towers along the wall were manned by lookouts (back then, not now).
The walls are still standing because of how thick they were built. Walking through the connecting tunnels provides a sense how large these structures are. Originally, the walls measured 4 kilometers in length (2.5 miles), but today only 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) of the walls remain.
In the above picture, remains of 14th Century Stone Tablets are displayed. They were used as equivalents to advertising and information sharing.
Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We wish we had more time to visit this city. Before going, it’s a place we didn’t really know much about…
Maybe it was our gorgeous weather, but we felt a peaceful energy within the Old Town. Each of the 26 towers were magnificent in their design (originally, there were 46, but you know… wars and all). And, it was not difficult to imagine the many medieval battles these towers and walls have experienced.
But, don’t let the medieval buildings fool you… Tallinn is dubbed as the Silicon Valley of Europe with many tech centers located here. Fun Fact – Tallinn is the birthplace of Skype. And, like most European cities, there is a modern cityscape skyline, but obviously one wants to explore the historical Old Town.
Given its location on the Baltic Sea, Tallinn was popular because of the sea trade routes between Russia and the rest of northern Europe. But, this did come at a price as Estonia has been ruled by the Danish, the Swedish, the Finns, and the Soviets, as well as being occupied by the Germans during WWII. Most recently, Estonia was part of the Soviet Union which granted Estonia its independence in 1991.
Today, most of the Old Town has city streets full of shops and restaurants.
One day alone doing a walking tour of the city is not enough time to explore the amazing sites of this historical place. Many museums exist, even one displaying nothing but medieval torture devices… with its inviting people and the history of so many buildings, Tallinn is a definite city one should spend time to explore in Europe.