Estonia has a high-income, advanced economy and is a democratic unitary parliamentary republic, administratively subdivided into 15 maakond or counties on the Eastern edge of the Baltic Sea. With a population of about 1.4 million, it is one of the smallest members of the European Union and of NATO. Estonian is its indigenous and official language and is the first language of most of its population. The country has been inhabited since at least 9,000 BCE and only adopted Christianity in the 13th century through the Livonian Crusade. Then ruled successively by Denmark, Sweden, and Russia, it was only in the mid-19th century that a distinct Estonian national identity emerged. It declared Independence in 1918 which lasted until 1940, when the country was annexed first by Nazi Germany and then by the Soviet Union, independence only being restored in August 1991.
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia, situated on the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea. It has a population of about 454,000 people, and is the main financial, industrial, and cultural centre of Estonia. It is located 187 km Northwest of the country's second largest city, Tartu. However, it is only 80 km South of Helsinki, Finland, 320 km West of Saint Petersburg, Russia, and 300 km North of Riga, Latvia. There is a regular ferry service to and from Helsinki several times a day from Tallinn's modern harbour (see below).
From the 13th century until the first half of the 20th century, Tallinn was widely known by its historical name Reval.
There is much to see in the city, including its old walls and its Gothic Town Hall with a 64m-high tower, as well as the many fine old buildings and its extensive modern areas of ports and markets.
Showing the old walls and city centre.
Visible in the picture below of the city centre is Kiek de Kok, a 15th century defensive tower, as is St Olaf’s church, an earlier mediaeval building and thought to be the centre of the Scandinavian community before Estonia was conquered by Denmark in the late 13th century
St. Nicholas Church, a 13th-century landmark today exhibiting ecclesiastical art. St Nicholas is the patron saint of fishermen and sailors. The church was partially destroyed by Soviet bombing in World War II. Although the building has been restored, it has not been used for regular religious activities since 1945. The interior is shown below
The modern city lies outside the city walls with extensive modern housing, hotels and port facilities, and a useful tram and developing train network.
Parks - Outside the city walls near to the railway station is a lovely park that includes the remains of an old moat that surrounded the city.
Upper old town - Entering its narrow streets one finds the Parliament building (below centre) opposite a Russian orthodox church (below left) – showing the long influence of Russia on Estonia – which still caters for the many Russian speaking Estonians (below right).
Lower Town - Descending down narrow winding streets (left) to the beautiful squares of central Tallinn (below).
Not all was picturesque - Not all parts were picture perfect for tourists in the lower old town. Below right shows a lively level of protest. And there was a very noisy group outside the building protesting
Under the sign of the dragon in the Gothic Town Hall with a 64m-high tower, was a ‘Mediaeval’ Ale house, claiming to serve food that copied mediaeval recipes and beer that followed mediaeval recipes – very tasty! In the same building was also a ‘Mediaeval’ banqueting hall for evening feasting
A Welcoming town - Encouraging people to link up with different parts of Europe, including a French language school run in the middle of the city. While, below, the fine beers of Scotland were given a prominent place in one tavern.