A word of warning; should you be out wandering through the Old Town after dark on a cold autumn night and a strange old man approaches you, be wary, for he has a question for you…
“Is the city finished yet?” more “Why the construction of Tallinn will never be complete: The Old Man of Lake Ülemiste”
The Soviet obsession with statues is clear. From Berlin to Bishkek, the former Iron Curtain cities are littered with these grand images of strength and unity – propaganda and personality cult – like the scattered wreckage strewn across the landscape in the wake of a mighty storm. more “Soviet Statues – Abandoned and Unloved”
“I remember being terrified by the egg”.
While reminiscing with Estonians about the melancholy days of childhood – the long summer days spent cycling through pristine forests, the heady scent of pine filling the nostrils and the hazy summer sunshine flooding the landscapes with a rich, warming glow more “Estonian Animation is Utterly Terrifying”
On a bike ride through the surrounding forests of Tallinn one might stumble upon a few surprises. This huge statue depicts Kalevipoeg
, son of Kalev, the mythical founder of Tallinn, a very important figure in Estonian mythology.
more “A Surprise in the Forest”
“Empty your mind. Be formless. Be shapeless. Like water, my friend.”
Information on this beautiful abandoned water tower is pretty limited.
Standing on the abandoned rail tracks more “Abandoned Water Tower, Telliskivi”
“This place is not fit for humans and never has been”
Still utterly fascinating and darkly captivating, Patarei Prison sits ominously on the Baltic coast; more “Re-visiting Patarei: Abandoned Soviet Prison”
During my first visit to Tallinn in 2009 I was privileged enough to witness a magnificent spectacle…
25,000 Estonians – young and old – all wearing national dress, standing on a magnificent semi-circular stage in front of a crowd well in excess of 100,000, all singing patriot, historic, emotional songs of freedom more “The National Song Festival”
50km west of Tallinn, perched on the precarious coastal limestone cliffs that characterise the coastline, lies the former Soviet military town of Paldiski. more “Paldiski: Abandoned Lighthouse and Crumbling Industry”
RMK is an organisation responsible for the upkeep and general preservation of Estonian state-owned forests. With over 2.2 million hectares of forest covering the land (40% of which is owned by the state) this is no small task. more “Keila-Joa Waterfall”
Approximately 30km to the East of Tallinn – along the Tallinn-Narva highway – lies Estonia’s tallest natural waterfall, Jägala. Measuring 8m in height and 50m in width she may be small compared to some of her cousins across the globe but nonetheless, up close, the power more “Jägala Waterfall (Jägala Juga)”
Across the mirror-like lake in Schnelli Park, a small orchestra play a selection of Baroque pieces to a crowd of over a hundred hushed Estonians. A pleasant surprise-ending to another spontaneous evening bike ride. Rule One when exploring Tallinn: always carry a camera. more “Free Evening Concert in Shnelli Park”
Pirita Health Track – Pirita Terviserajad – is a 7.2km track slicing through the picture-perfect forest which characterises this beautiful district to the east of The Old Town. more “Pirita Health Track: A Beautiful Place To Cycle, Walk or Run”
Ever wondered what The Old Town would look like from 50 storeys high? Well, now you don’t have to. This photo was taken from the top of the TV Tower, the tallest building in Estonia, proud member of the World Federation of Great Towers (yeah, I had no idea that existed either) and my favourite building in Tallinn. more “Tallinn Old Town – From 175m In The Air”
News hot off the press: after lengthy refurbishments Tallinn’s iconic TV Tower has finally re-opened its doors to the public. This is very exciting news for a number of reasons more “Tallinn TV Tower Re-Opens”
This is arguably the most famous of all the Old Town legends. Different versions of the tale have been passed down through generations to such an extent that no two tellings of the story are the same. Here is the first version of the story that I was told… more “The Devil’s Wedding”
The steps of Linnahall were originally built to signify Tallinn’s status as hosts of the sailing events for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. As part of a larger regeneration project – which included the building of a brand new highway, the sailing club in Pirita, the famous TV Tower and even the airport – the I.V. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport, as it was originally known, is perhaps the only structure which has failed to live up to its billing. more “Linnahall: Abandoned Soviet-Era Concert Hall”
There are many remnants of the Soviet era still present in and around Tallinn. All of them provide a tantalising but incomplete glimpse into Estonia’s very recent and repressive past but few instil the same level of fear and intimidation as the former KGB Headquarters. more “Former KGB Headquarters”
Find a hill. Grab a sledge. Hold on for dear life. Repeat. One of the great joys of the Tallinn winter. more “Sledging in The Old Town”
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, with its famous ‘onion domes’, is certainly one of The Old Town’s most famous ‘postcard pictures’. Its association with the Estonian capital is very ironic, however, considering it was built during the reign of Alexander III (1845–1894) and is actually a symbol of the Russian Tsar’s attempt to phase-out Estonian culture through Russification.
Estonian folklore states that while the Russians were digging in Toompea to lay the foundations for this iconic cathedral, they stumbled across the tomb of Kalev – a mythological king in ancient Estonia, father of Kalevipoeg. The workers dug so deep into Toompea Hill that they struck an iron door, upon which was inscribed: more “The Tomb of Kalev”
Contemplating visiting Tallinn in winter but scared of the cold? Hopefully these images will convince you to pull on your thermals, grab a warm drink, charge your camera and bask in the glorious winter scenery. The cold is a small price to pay for such beauty.
more “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”
In January 1695, the priest, Elias Christian Panicke, entered the ‘Riga’ Tavern in the corner of the Town Hall Square, sat at the bar and ordered an ale. When the drink was served, he took one sip and then immediately threw the ale to the floor in disgust; the drink was warm. He demanded another beverage to replace the drink that had just been wasted – the bar maid obliged.
After taking a sip of this second beer, the priest was outraged to find the drink was, once again, warm. In his state of rage, he threw the ceramic tankard at the barmaid who fell, cracked her skull on the bar and died. more “Execution in the Old Town”
In 1219, Valdemar II, the Danish King, invaded Tallinn with his fleet. After initially overcoming the Estonian fortress without much effort, the King sat back and embraced the gifts bestowed upon him by the Estonian emissaries. Foolishly, the King saw this as a sign of surrender and declared the fortress conquered. While the Danish forces were celebrating that night, the Estonians unexpectedly unleashed an attack in which many Danish troops lost their lives.
The situation looked hopeless for the King as he and his forces had been driven back considerably by the unexpected nature of this attack. In an act of desperation, the King fell to his knees and prayed to the heavens for divine help in defeating the superior Estonian forces. more “The Danish King’s Garden”
Although executions were not uncommon in olden times, there was a law that forbid any from taking place in The Old Town. Instead, the condemned prisoner would be paraded around the Town Hall Square for all to see before being lead down Harju Street towards their place of execution. As such, Harju Street became known as ‘the last road’ for those sentenced to death.
Unlike today, Harju Street used to be packed densely with houses and thus was far more slender and enclosed. Hidden between two of the houses houses was a very narrow street called Trepi that lead away from Harju and into St Nicholas Church. more “Condemned Criminals escape through The Eye of the Needle”
There are many different legends offering explanations as to how the Estonian capital got its name but one of the most popular stories is set around the time of the Danish King Valdemar.
Shortly after the King and his forces had conquered North Estonia and converted the population to Christianity the king was taking a stroll in his new grounds. In the upper quarters of the town he spied a tiny deer. Rather than hunt the animal, the new king ordered his courtiers to find and capture the animal so the king could keep him as a pet. more “How a Tiny Deer gave Tallinn its Name”
Cycling is undoubtedly the most liberating and efficient way to explore Tallinn. With numerous cycle paths and amazing natural scenery, a bike is almost as essential as a camera… maps are optional.
This gorgeous forest is located on Rummu tee (near Pirita), a short ride from the TV Tower. Notice the quaint, yet slightly eerie, cemetary on the right hand side of the path. Very Interesting. more “Summer Cycling: Reminiscing”