We took a day trip from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia. We caught the convenient Tallink ferry in the morning for a 2 hour crossing and a return trip in the evening. We found having 7 hours to wander around old town Tallinn was an ample amount of time.
Tallinn is the most well-preserved Nordic medieval town. It has a blend of Scandinavian and Russian influences.
Once again, Justine led us on the Rick Steves Tallinn Walk as Kristin snapped the photos and updated social media.
We started in the Lower Town by the Paks Margareeta (Fat Margaret Tower). This thick-walled tower guarded the entry to the town in medieval times. It sits next to a black arch, which is a memorial to 852 people who perished when a ferry sank in 1994.
We wandered down Pikk Street, the Main Street of medieval merchants and stopped for a great lunch at Restoran Wirulane
Along the street, we visited St. Olav’s Church. The stark interior of this church confirms that it was originally a Lutheran church, although it serves the Baptists today. We climbed the narrow circular 234 step staircase up the tower for a great view of the Old Town.
A beautiful doorway leads to what was once a German merchants’ club, the Brotherhood of the Black Heads. Membership in this guild was limited to single German men and provided them a route to move up in the Hanseatic social structure. Today the venue is a concert hall.
Pikk Street leads you to Town Hall Square, dominated by the 15th century Town Hall.
We continued our walk to the Upper Town (Toompea) and surveyed the city wall. This imposing structure once had 46 towers, of which 26 still stand.
We took a look at the Danish King’s Garden, which of course was not too colourful this time of year. Legend says that the Danish flag was born on these grounds, when a white cross fell from the heavens and landed in a pool of blood from a battle being lost by the Danes. The Danes were inspired and went on to win the battle.
The Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral is a beautiful structure built in 1900. The interior has a glittering iconostasis, shielding the altar from the congregation, as well as beaytiful holy doors. Of note in the Russian Orthodox churches is the lack of pews – the worshippers stand through the services.
Across the street from the cathedral is the Toompea Loss (Toompea Castle) – an 18th century pink palace that today is the home of the Estonian Parliament.
We paused at the Patkuli and Kohtuotsa Viewpoints to take in the wonderful views of the lower town below.
Before heading back to the ferry terminal, we stopped for a delicious dinner at Vanaema Juarez (“Grandma’s Place”). We greatly enjoyed our meals!
We would strongly recommend spending some time in Tallinn. There are of course many areas outside of the Old Town that we didn’t explore but we thoroughly enjoyed our time spent in the Old Town.