How a Tiny Deer gave Tallinn its Name

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.

The deer proved to be very illusive, despite the best efforts of the king’s courtiers but was eventually cornered on the edge of a limestone cliff where, rather than giving in to the men, jumped off to his death.

The king was devastated by this turn of events and decided to name that particular spot in honour of the deer. He decided to call this point at the top of the hill Reval, which translates literally as ‘Deer-Fall’.


At the base of a viewpoint sits this tiny statue, a tribute to the story of the deer. Why is this seemingly insignificant story so important to Tallinn though I hear you ask? Why does it deserve a statue? Well, earliest records suggest that RevalΒ was one of Tallinn’s first names. Therefore, in essence, this tiny deer gave the city its name.

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