It was the last day of our London to Tallinn bike ride and – by sheer coincidence – my birthday. Such days deserve celebration and I cannot think of a finer way to mark the occasion than a visit to an abandoned submarine base, hidden deep in the peaceful forest ambience of Laahemaa National Park. more “Hara: Abandoned Soviet Submarine Base”
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”
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”
About 4km away from the Old Town, down the coast towards Pirita sits a very touching monument to the Russian and German soldiers who lost their lives in the second Great War. The striking gateway and sporadic scattering of crosses generate both a sombre and slightly eerie atmosphere while the large list of names creates a very poignant reminder of the price of conflict.