Estonia is a true gem in the Baltic – lying on the Gulf of Finland, it is easily accessed from other Nordic capitals via a Baltic cruise. Bordered by Russia and Latvia, it has a rich and fascinating history, a beautiful coastline with glorious beaches, and a magnificent medieval old town in the capital city of Tallinn. Founded by German crusaders, occupied by the Soviet Union, and now a member of the European Union, Estonia now enjoys a prosperous, open and liberal government system and economy, and is one of Northern Europe’s most popular tourist destinations.
Tallinn is Estonia’s capital city and a great starting point for touring this remarkable country. Some of Tallinn’s top tourist attractions include:
• Oleviste Church (St Olav’s Church) and Tower
This church dates from the thirteenth century, and between 1549 and 1625 it was the world’s tallest building! The spire on the steeple was so tall, at one hundred and fifty nine metres, that is was frequently struck by lightning, resulting in the steeple burning down numerous times. The steeple now reaches one hundred and twenty four metres tall, and during summer, tourists can climb the stone portion of the tower for amazing views.
• Kiek in de Kok
This cannon tower’s name translates as “Peek into the Kitchen”. It is thirty eight metres high and houses a museum of Medieval cannons and firepower, displays dedicated to Tallinn’s walls and towers, and exhibitions of Old Tallinn’s methods of crime and punishment. It is also the entrance to a hidden tunnel system.
• The Bastion Tunnels
These hidden, underground tunnels were important defensive passageways during the 1600s when Tallinn was under Swedish rule. They offer a fascinating look back into Medieval history.
• The Holy Spirit Church
This spectacular church dates from the fourteenth century, and features Tallinn’s oldest public clock on its facade; this dates from the 1600s. This church was originally part of the Holy Spirit Almshouse, which was the main church of the common people and it also tended to the elderly and sick citizens of Tallinn.
Other attractions in Tallinn include the Great Guild Hall Estonian History Museum, the Estonian Maritime Museum, Tallinn Botanic Garden, the Seaplane Harbour, and the Niguliste Museum at St Nicholas’ Church. Or simply stroll the cobbled streets of Old Tallinn.
Next time, we’ll look at what Estonia has to offer the tourist a little further afield.