Community Highlights Europe Tallinn

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and supposedly one of Northern Europe’s finest medieval Old Towns. We got our first glimpse of the town with its many church spires peaking above it whilst having breakfast as the ship docked.


It is divided into an upper and lower town which is still surrounded by much of its 2.5km defensive wall. Our bus tour firstly took us to the Upper Old Town where we strolled along cobblestone lanes past the Estonian Parliament, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and St. Mary’s Cathedral before stopping at a vantage point that overlooked the Old Town’s canvas of red rooftops, slender steeples and beyond to the sea.



We then descended to the Lower Town with its maze of squares, turrets and church spires, winding cobblestone 13th century streets lined with colourful wooden buildings and overlooked on one side by the 800 year old town wall which gave the Old Town its UNESCO listing.



The heart of the Old Town is Town Hall Square, which is dominated by a 15th-century Gothic Town Hall and surrounded by cafes and souvenir shops, which on this sunny day was a vibrant hub for the visiting tourists.



This building has a tale to tell. Note the winch on the side of the Peppersack Cafe that would have been used in former days to haul bags of pepper into the loft.


The nonchalance of this medieval man as he strolls through the Old Town belies the past of this small country, which had the misfortune to be located between countries which have been at war with one another for centuries and often fought those wars on Estonian soil. Our tour guide told us that because of this, for most of the past 1,000 years Estonia has been ruled by Danes or Poles or Swedes or Germans or Russians and only gained independence from Russia in 1991. In the Great Northern Wars between 1700 and 1720 where a Russian alliance was formed to defeat Sweden which had control of most of the Baltic States, the population of Estonia was halved from 700,000 to 350,000. Again in WW2, 25% of the population was either killed, deported or evacuated.

This has had a lasting impact on the psyche of the people and the economic growth of the country. It is testimony to the spirit of the people that they have maintained their Estonian nationality and spirit through all of this hardship. Their independence from Russia was finally achieved without bloodshed via The Singing Revolution between 1988 and 1991 when 100,000's of Estonians joined together to sing National songs in defiance of Russian attempts to quell the movement.


After an enjoyable morning wandering this pleasant town, we made our way back to the ship. The next day was to be an at sea day, which would mean more time to eat and drink, so we decided to forego the Viking shuttle and walk the kilometre or so back to the Viking Sea.

This featured blog entry was written by themaggiej from the blog Travels by barge, bike & boat.
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By themaggiej

Posted Wed, Jun 05, 2019 | Estonia | Comments