September 8th, 2017 by Felix Schneider

A short article about a small city.


When I asked around about people's opionions about Tallinn, everyone had a positive opinion of the city. Though small, the city is said to be beautiful and the historic city center makes you feel long past times vivid and alive again. Even friends of mine usually discomforted by rainy and cold weather enjoyed their visit to Tallinn a lot.

As it happened my girlfriend stayed in the city for three weeks. Quite spontaneously we found an affordable flight. Since I have heard about the low service quality and the fee for checking in at the counter on the airport when travelling with Air Baltic, I considered myself lucky having booked a Finnair flight.

A quick summary of Tallinn's history

Although there had been some settlements and even a small fortress, it was the Teutonic Order that brought merchants and founded the city as "Reval" in 1230. Only six years later they were defeated by local troops which ultimately led to a Danish rule. The people of Tallinn were forced to christianity. Rising to a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Northern Europe and Russia, the city joined the Hanseatic League. By the end of the century the lands were back under the rule of the Teutonic Order. The city had 8 000 inhabitants and was well fortified with more than 60 towers.

In the 16th century the Protestant Reformation reached the city and quickly became popular. Because of Moscow's expansive politics the Teutonic Order left the city and it became a dominion of Sweden. Stories that Reval's Olai church was the tallest building in the world at that time are apparently false [1].

In 1710 Reval was lost to the Russian empire under Peter I. Only two hundred years later in 1918 Estonian independence was proclamed in Reval. German troops occupied the area and after two years of war Russia acknowledged Estonia as a souvereign country. However, the second world war changed all this again, leading to the annexiation of Estonia to the USSR. Since 1991 Estonia has been a souvereign country again. It has joined the European Union in 2004 and introduced the Euro in 2011. In 2005 it was the first country worldwide to introduce Internet voting [2].

Quick Facts

Touring the city

Arriving at the airport is a quick and harmless experience. Busses go to the center quite frequently. By foot it takes around 45 to 60 minutes. As long as you stay in the historic city center and the small area around you probably don't need a bus ticket. Hostels are available starting at 10 EUR per night in a 10-bed room right in the city center.

The city walls still are in impressive condition, as are most of the buildings inside the walls. The city center is almost entirely cobbled and cars hardly get in. It is no surprise that the historic city center has been declared as UNESCO world heritage. One tower especially got my attention, even though at least partly because of the name: Kiek in de Kök. Outside the city walls one can see the remains of further fortifications, now transformed into beautiful parks. Remarkable are the huge, presumable old lime trees.

Although old, the houses still appear to be in good condition Although old, the houses behind the city walls appear to be in good condition

Walls and Towers Some parts of the city wall can be walked. Some towers can be entered, too.

Close to the city center one can find the hardbour. Currently quite a few construction sites are located there. Close to the waterfront a big concert hall was built during the soviet years. Now it is vacant and already starts breaking apart. During the summer holidays, adolescents like to hang out and climb the ruins. A sign in front of the building informs of plans to start renovating the site this year. On top of the building one can get a nice view at the city as well as the sea.

Concert hall From the old concert hall one can get a nice overview of the city.

Not far from the inner walls a scarp forces people to use one of the few staircases offering a wide view of the city. Just in the beginning, on top of the hill one can see Steven the seagull from time to time. Apparently the bird has made himself quite a reputation for visiting this place over and over again [5].

Certainly the city has much more to offer than presented here, but this should do to get an overview. If one wants to spend some more time in the area, it might be interesting to know that both Helsinki and Riga are not very far from here.