Most likely Toompea is the greatest place to start exploring Esotnia’s capital. Form here you have a fantastic view over the whole city. Located right in its center, this limestone hill had first been populated in 1227 when the German Knights of the Sword built the stone fortress. The 7 ha’s are full of history: old buildings, narrow streets, impressing churches like the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the cozy atmosphere are pushing you back ages. You’re feeling like being right in the middle of the 12th or 13th century. One of the most famous buildings is the castle of Toompea. Today being the home of the Estonian parliament, it has ever been used as base by all foreign empires that ruled the country before.
Choosing one of the two historical roads down the hill you’ll be ending up at Tallinn’s old town – the place where the city’s heart beats. This part roots back to the Hanseatic trade league whose colorful gabled houses, incredible churches and hidden courtyards survived all the centuries to by still adored by their visitors nowadays. Tallinn’s old city is lively, inspiring and full of urban spirit.
From the 13th to the 16th century Tallinn’s city wall became one of the strongest and largest defense systems in Northern Europe. 1.85km are still preserved, including 26 defense towers and 2 magnificent gates. For just a few Euros you can climb up and walk along the historical complex. I can hardly recommend to do so.
The complete architectural contradiction to Tallinn’s old town is the simplistic, clean design of the Rotermann Quarter that brings you back to the 21st century. This former factory area turned into an inspiring, commercial and cultural center. Until just a few years ago this district was not more than a collection of old, half destroyed buildings, leftovers from the 19th and early 20th century. Now it turned into a beautifully restored area and a home for several restaurants, cafés and shops. Amongst them you can find the bakery RØST, the wine loving R14 or the Tallinn Design House.
Are you ready for another contrasting thing? Kalamaja is known for its wooding houses and Bohemian charme. This little quiet neighboorhoud is really eye-catching and roots back to the time Tallinn was still dominated by fishermen, fishmongers and boat wrights. Literally Kalamaja also means ‘fish house’.
If you still can’t get enough from Tallinn, how about a forgotten relict of the Sovjet time? In 1980 Moscow was hosting the Summer Olympics, but due to its inland location not suitable for the sailing event. This task fell to Tallinn. For that purpose the Linnahall was built, knows as the ‘V.I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport”. This former Sovjet dream in concrete was later on used as ice hall and concert hall amongst others. Even though the city of Tallinn decided to renovate it and reopen in 2019, I believe this would still be a long way to go.