Walking Tour of Tallinn, Estonia
Talinn, Estonia, another Baltic gem and World Heritage Site, has an extremely lovely and pleasant-to-walk Old Town, known as All-Linn. Spend some time drinking beer in Raekoja Plats, a square with numerous cafes, and check out the Town Hall, the oldest in Europe. Also, be sure to climb the tower of St Olaf’s Church for a great view of the city.
My walk begins at the center of activity in Vanillin (the Estonian name for the Old City), Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square). It sits in the center of the Old City, the walled, medieval heart of the country. The Gothic Town Hall, itself, is Europe’s oldest, dating to about 1375 AD. You can climb the tower for views of Vanalinn. A pharmacy (Raepteek), at the northern end of the square, has occupied this spot since the early 15th century.
Exit the square next to the pharmacy, on Saiakang, which leads to Puhavaimee Kirik (The Church of the Holy Spirit), a fascinating 13th century Gothic structure, whose clock is the oldest in the country. The interior deserves a look as well, especially the altarpiece and pulpit.
Turn right on Pikk, an interesting street lined with old guild houses. Now turn left on Vaimu, and then right on Lai, to reach another city landmark, St Olaf Oleviste Church and Tower. Views from the top of the tower were so good that the Russian KGB performed surveillance of the city from here.
Continue north from the church and then turn left on Tolli tnv, and left again on Laboratooriumi (which becomes Gumnassiumi), which runs alongside the city’s well-preserved, medieval walls. As you pass the intersection with Aida, detour through a small passageway in the wall to get a great picture of the towers from outside the Old Town. Then return and continue south, where there is an opportunity to climb one of the towers and to walk the walls a bit.
Now, continue to walk south, along Vaike-Kloostri, then Nunne, then Rataskaevi, and then Ruutii, to reach St Nicholas Church. After your visit, retrace your steps and then turn left onto Luhike jalg, which winds its way to Upper Town. Toomea.
Here you will find Castle Square (Lossi Plats) around which are several notable buildings. Toomea Castle is now home to the Estonian Parliament. Also on the square is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It was a much later addition to the scene, courtesy of the Russian occupation.
Several of the original towers, part of the medieval fortifications, are still accessible here. The most noteworthy is Pikk Hermann, at the southwest corner of the castle.
Now follow Toom-Kooli north to visit Toomkirik, the Lutheran Church, a domed structure, built in 1233 AD. Note the beautiful carved tombs inside.
Then, return to Lossi Plats via Toom-Kooli and take Toompea south, then turn left onto Komandandi tee, where you can stop at Kiek-in-de-Kok Tower, where medieval peeping-toms could look into the homes of Lower Town.
At the end of this road, turn sharply left and reenter Vanalinn on Harju, which becomes Kullassepa, returning you to Town Hall Square, where the walking tour began.