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About Tallinn

Tallinn - Old Town With Old Town Charm.

Tallinn's old town belonging to UNESCO's World Heritage List, is a magnnificent blend of medieavel streetscape and modern convenience, with cafes, restaurants, shops and street fairs. All easily accessible inside the impressive city walls. Coubblestones, courtyards and craftsmen. Experience the Middle Ages with a stroll through coubblestoned streets of the Old Town, peeking into side alleys, inner courtyards and artisans` workshops. Tradition – bound, alive and alluring. Traditions like the Oled Town Days and medeavel markets keep the Hanseathic spirit alive in enchanting venues. Tallinners have always enjoyed a hearty meal. Today you can taste a mixture of medieavel atmosphere and modern cuisine. The highly prized value of true craft. The skills of craftsmen have been passed down for centuries. Search for your favorite among workshops, handicraft shops and markets.

Town Hall Square - In Old Town

The square in front of Tallinn's Town Hall functioned as a marketplace for centuries, dating back to times even before the Town Hall itself was built. Through the years this served as a place of celebrations as well as executions. Today the square remains a cultural focal point for the city. In summer, it's filled with outdoor cafés and is home to countless open-air concerts, handicraft fairs and medieval markets. In winter, an annual Christmas Market enchants the crowds on the square, as does the town’s Christmas tree (a tradition whose roots stretch back to 1441), which stays up for a month or more. Town Hall Square has also become the traditional centre of the Old Town Days festival, a modern version of a medieval carnival. Traditions from the Middle Ages are kept alive here, including parades, a knights’ tournament, a parrotshooting contest and the election of the May Count.

Tallinn Town Hall - In Old Town

Tallinn's late Gothic Town Hall building is one of the most famed symbols of the city, recognized throughout Estonia as a venerable, unique architectural treasure. The Town Hall was established on the central square, probably at the beginning of 13th century. In 1402-1404, the building was substantially reconstructed. The exterior we know today dates from this period, and the basic room plan has also been preserved, as it was reconstructed for hosting receptions. The second floor was and still is the main floor, where the Citizen`s Hall, the Council Hall, a small kitchen and chancery are located and where festive receptions and concerts are held, just as they were in the Medieval days of yore. The three-nave cellar hall is open to citizens and guests today as an exhibit hall.

Viru Gates

The Viru Gates were built in the 14th century, but the towers that now remain are only part of what was originally here. The Viru Gates are in the eastern section of the city wall. The main tower of the gates was originally built in the years 1345-1355. Today, Viru gate is one of the main entryways in the Town Wall, leading into the Old Town to Viru Street, a main shopping and dining street of the Old Town.

Fat Margareta - In Old Town

The Great Coastal Gate and Fat Margaret's Tower were built as a defense on the seaward side of town, but also for impressing visitors coming in from the sea. The Great Coastal Gate, built along with the city wall, is situated on the northern side of the Old Town, near the harbour. During the reconstruction of the gate in the early 16th century, the cannon tower Fat Margaret was added. The round tower, with 155 loopholes, a diameter of 25 meters, and a height of about 20 meters, was built to protect the harbour. It got its name from the fact that it was indeed the stoutest tower in the city wall. Through history, the cannon tower has also served as a storehouse for gunpowder and weapons, and as a prison. Fat Margaret's Tower now houses the Estonian Maritime Museum, with a permanent exhibit on Estonian maritime and fishing history. The viewing platform on the roof affords a lovely view onto the Old Town and the bay. Closed on public holidays.

Tallinn's Soviet Legacy

Estonia was first occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, then by Nazi Germany in 1941, and again by the Soviets in 1944. The country remained occupied, forcibly integrated into the USSR, from the end of the war until the country regained its independence in 1991. During that time Soviet rule left indelible marks on Tallin'’s landscape which today serve as reminders of the powerful regime that once exercised tight control over every aspect of life in Estonia. They're also fascinating places to visit for foreign guests interested in that chapter of the world’s history. Note that visitors willing to invest the time travel outside Tallinn can see some fascinating remains of Soviet military bases in Naissaar, an island 8.5 km off the coast, and in the port town of Paldiski, 49 km from the capital.

KGB Headquarters - in the Old Town

It's safe to say that this ominous-looking building with bricked-up basement windows was once the single most feared place in the city. It was here at the headquarters of the NKVD (later renamed the KBG) that perceived enemies of the state were interrogated and then either shot or sent to Siberian work camps. The plaque outside in Estonian reads, "This building housed the organ of repression of the Soviet occupational power. Here began the road to su.ering for thousands of Estonians." It's interesting to note that the spire of the neighbouring 13th-century St. Olav's Church was used by the KGB to send radio transmissions.

Museum of occupation and for fright of freedom

Opened in summer 2003, this modern museum is the first in the nation dedicated to the 1939 - 1991 time period, during which Estonia was occupied briefly by the Germans, and for a longer time by the Soviet Union. Audio-visual displays, photos and sound recordings highlight the events of the era, repression and popular resistance, as well as showing how ordinary people coped with the day-to-day realities of this difficult period.