Tallinn is one of the oldest cities in Northern Europe. It is quite miniature, but unusually rich in its architectural, historical monuments, parks, squares, distinctive traditions that give it a unique look. Most of the attractions of Tallinn are located in the Old Town, which has long been divided into Lower and Upper.
As a rule, excursions in Tallinn begin on the cozy Town Hall Square. It is located in the Lower City, occupies a very small territory and is surrounded by ancient buildings, each of which preserves its own history. Since the Middle Ages, Town Hall Square has been the heart of the city. Already in the XI century there was a market that existed until 1896. Carnivals and festivities were held on Town Hall Square, and the most favorite holiday among the townspeople was the removal of the Christmas tree, followed by funny dances. Christmas markets are held here today, and in one of the restaurants located around the perimeter of the square, you can plunge into the atmosphere of the 15th century and taste delicious national dishes.
The square is decorated with the Town Hall – one of the most remarkable architectural monuments of Tallinn, which is a magnificent example of Gothic monumental architecture. The interiors of the town hall are decorated with almost ascetic severity, and the picturesque lunettes and skillfully executed openwork carvings on wooden panels and benches give the hall an originality.
On Rataskaeva, one of the old streets of the Lower City, is the building of the former church of Niguliste (St. Nicholas). The first mention of it dates back to 1316. Some ancient church shrines have survived to our days: a carved wooden altar, created in 1482 by the Lübeck artist Germen Rode, stone gravestones, coats of arms, epitaphs, a seven-candle chandelier. The most significant of the preserved values is the surviving fragment of the famous painting “Dance of Death”, owned by the artist Bernt Notke (XV century). Today, a museum is located in the church building, which also serves as a concert hall where ancient music evenings are held.
Walking along one of the most curious and busy streets of the city of Sayakäik (Bakery Pass), you will see a magnificent monument of medieval architecture – the Church of the Holy Spirit. The temple, built in the Gothic style, is covered with a tiled roof with stepped pediments. Its main value is a multi-winged wooden altar with exquisite carvings and paintings by Bernt Notke.
Many beautiful old buildings are concentrated on Pikk Street (Long). Here, from ancient times, the rich lived – aristocrats and large merchants. Merchants built solid stone houses here with colossal basements and attics, which were used as warehouses. On this street there were also buildings where meetings of the most venerable merchants of the city were held. The most famous of them is the building of the Great Guild, as well as the premises of the guild of St. Kanut, the Brotherhood of Blackheads, the Guild of St. Olai.
On Pikk Street there is another remarkable monument of medieval architecture – the Oleviste Church. In city chronicles, it was mentioned already in 1267, but the temple got its present appearance in the 19th century.
If you decide to take a bird’s eye view of Tallinn, go to Toompea Hill, where the Upper Town is located. There you can climb the steps of the Patkulevskaya stairs, walk along Toompea street or along the Pikk-Yalg street (Long leg). The latter, until the 17th century, was the only road connecting both parts of Tallinn.
By car, you will get to the Upper Town along one of the longest city highways – Paldiski Maante, starting in the center of Tallinn. Before reaching the historical center, turn into a quiet and cozy Echo street. Here is the charming miniature aparthotel Revelton Suites. This affordable hotel has been recently opened and everything shines with novelty, ranging from furniture to a washing machine, microwave and kettle. The rooms are clean, bright and spacious. The hotel staff is friendly and welcoming, and the fact that every morning they will treat you to the freshest croissants will only emphasize the homely atmosphere that prevails in these family apartments. By the way, for kids there is a separate playroom. Another advantage of these apartments over other family hotels in Tallinn is the availability of free parking. You can walk to the main attractions of the Upper Town on foot in a quarter of an hour.
The appearance of the Upper City has not changed much since the Middle Ages. Walking slowly through its narrow winding streets, you will see many buildings of the XIV-XV centuries. In this part of Tallinn is the famous Toompea Castle, built at the behest of the Danish King Waldemar II. In those days, the part of the Upper Town that the castle occupies was called the Small Fortress. The great fortress was called the structure of the northern part of the hill – the dwellings of the feudal lords and the Tallinn bishop were located here. Several towers are built in Toompea Castle. The tallest and most powerful of them, Long Herman, stood guard over Tallinn for more than five centuries.