Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Exploring the gutsy city of Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is one of the prettiest cities around the Baltic Sea, so it attracts many visitors. It’s a popular port for cruise ships, which is how we came to spend a day there exploring many sights.
Did you know that Skype originated in Tallinn? It is a very tech oriented city today—people vote and pay taxes via cell phones. That’s a great change from the 1940s and 50s when the Soviet Union ruled most of the Baltic region. Estonia was poverty-stricken when it declared independence as the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.

Preserved wall and towers of Tallin
The northern-most and smallest of the Baltic States, Estonia is also the most Westernized. It lies on the shores of the Gulf of Finland between Russia in the east and Latvia in the south. Its population of 1.5 million people is a mixture of Hungarians, Finns, and Estonians who enjoy a landscape dotted with 1500 lakes and numerous marshes and islands. Forests cover 51 percent of the land, so it’s no surprise that lumber is a big industry for the country.

Summer residence of Peter the Great
Old Town Tallinn features walls and towers dating back to the Middle Ages, many of which have been preserved and are now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The winding cobblestone streets of Old Town are lined with fascinating wooden architecture, which has regained popularity.

The Rotermann Quarter is an award-winning architectural gem right in the heart of Tallinn, next to the harbor and Old Town. This quarter has emerged from dilapidation of the Soviet Era into a bustling commercial and cultural center of this dynamic city.
St. Brigit's Convent is an outstanding monument of 15th century limestone architecture.
Among sights you can see are the summer residence of Peter the Great as well as the pink-tinted tea house that he frequented. To enjoy panoramic views from up high, go to one of the viewing platforms on hills above the city or look out from the tower of St. Olav’s Church (once the tallest building in the world).

Tallin's amphitheater where the music festival is held every five years
Once every five years (next in 2019) a song festival is held in the city’s renowned amphitheater. The festival attracts 30,000 people who sing and wear national costumes. It is claimed that the collapse of the Soviet Union started here in 1987 when, in a gutsy move, the choir refused to sing required “Red” songs that didn’t reflect their true feelings.
Choosing my favorite piece of amber
Shopping in Estonia is a familiar experience combining old and new offerings. Since the country is known for beautiful amber, I decided to help the economy and buy and piece of jewelry while there. After all, wearing my glistening pendant is a lovely reminder of our visit to this historic yet progressive city.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier



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