Tallinn Journals

Tallinn - Warm Heart in Cold Weather

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An October 2006 trip to Tallinn by mightywease

View from Toompea Photo, Tallinn, Estonia More Photos
Quote: Breathtakingly cold, breathtakingly pretty Tallinn was a winter wonderland of churches, museums, views, great food, great nightlife, and heart-warming vodka.

Tallinn - Warm Heart in Cold Weather

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Overview

View from Toompea Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
Walking around the quiet streets of Toompea in companionable silence with the soft crunch of snow compacting underfoot seemed somehow an apt image to sum up my experience of Tallinn.This is not a costermonger of a city, brashly shouting its wears to passers by, urging them to roll up, roll up. Rather it quietly sets its stall out, reserved yet confidant that its attractions will simply speak for themselves.And so they do. Tallinn has an awful lot to offer a visitor. A depth of history and culture, a medieval Old Town which has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, excellent restaurants providing local and international cuisine plus a vibrant nightlife of bars and clubs. ...Read More

Restoran Balthasar

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Restaurant | "Balthasar Restaurant"

Restoran Balthasar Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
There is a danger that in describing somewhere as a "garlic restaurant", it is made to sound rather gimmicky and that somehow the gimmick will surpass the cooking. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth with Balthasar, Tallinn's Garlic Restaurant. First, the setting is fantastic, situated on the first floor above Rae apteek, with lovely views over the square and towards the Town Hall. It is rather like being in a country-manor dining room: wooden beams and floor, ornate chairs, fresh white linen, and subdued and subtle lighting. There were very few people in the restaurant when we visited, reflective of it being a freezing Sunday night in winter rather than the standard of the res...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 19, 2006

Restoran Balthasar
Raekoja plats 11
Tallinn, Estonia
+372 627 6400

Troika

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Restaurant | "Troika Russian Restaurant"

Troika Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
In a lovely cellar entered from Raekoja plats is Troika, one of Tallinn's Russian restaurants.The setting is great, like a recreation of an Imperial Russian dining room, and the service excellent. The menu runs through Russian staples, such as blinis, dumplings, stroganoff, and pancakes. There is a good selection of fish and vegetarian options and plenty of choice for meat lovers, including bear. On the menu there was blini and mushrooms, perfect comfort food, and excellent lamb dumplings and sauce for starters. Main courses included a very tasty salmon & prawns with potato pancakes and sauce, plus pot roast pork under a bread shell with potatoes, good, solid, filling fare. And as ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 19, 2006

Troika
Raekoja Square 15
Tallinn, Estonia 10146
+372 627 6245

Mookkala

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Restaurant

Mookkala Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
The translation of Mookkala is swordfish and the menu here includes not only that fish but many of its sea going compatriots.The décor in the restaurants is lovely, blue walls, unusual but striking pictures, eclectic table settings, padded chairs and sofas. It creates a comfortable, interesting and relaxing atmosphere. Service too, is very good, friendly yet understated and happy to offer advice about the dishes on the menu.As for the food well, it was excellent. There is a choice of hot and cold starters plus soup and salads encompassing such things as oysters, crab legs, salmon and lamprey. For a main course as well as the signature dish of swordfish you can sample pike-perch...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 19, 2006

Mookkala
Kuninga 4
Tallinn, Estonia
+372 6 418 288

Kadriorg (Park)

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Attraction | "Kadriorg Palace"

Kadriorg (Park) Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
Built by Peter the Great for his wife Catherine, provides an opulent backdrop to much of Estonia’s Foreign Art Collection.The palace was designed by an Italian architect Nicolo Michetti and it was intended that it would serve as a Summer residence for Tsar Peter I and his family. Externally the palace is an impressive building with its rose petal pink and cream facade, columns and oval windows. Internally the main hall has an exuberant ceiling painting, baroque fireplaces and stucco work. It is very easy to imagine lavish receptions and parties being held there, the participants spilling out onto the balcony and into the park beyond.Also striking is also a small marquetry room -a 2...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 29, 2006

Kadriorg (Park)
East from city centre
Tallinn, Estonia

Old Town Square

Attraction

The Town Hall Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
The heart of Tallinn's Old Town is the Raekoja plats, or Old Town Square. Surrounded by elegant pastel hued buildings and the creamy limestone facade of the Town Hall the square has been used as a marketplace, meeting place and also a place of execution.It is still somewhere to meet up, perhaps in one of the restaurants that overlook it or, during the warmer months, one of the outdoor cafes that are set up on its cobblestones. There is also a reminder of its commercial past with handicraft stalls during summer and its Christmas Market. Indeed you get the sense that this is not a square that has been frozen in aspic - beautiful but untouchable - but a place that is still much in use by locals...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 29, 2006

Old Town Square
City Center
Tallinn, Estonia

Art Museum of Estonia

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Attraction | "KUMU"

Art Museum of Estonia Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
KUMU (standing for KunstiMUuseum - Art Museum)is home to Estonia's National Collection.The building, designed by Finnish architect Pekka Vapaavuori, is almost a work of art in itself. The modern design blends in well with its surroundings and does not seem out of place in an area that includes a number of older, more traditional buildings. The building seems to spring naturally from the ground, there is a very organic feel to it and looking at pictures of the design it appears as if care has been taken to integrate the building materials i.e. glass/concrete etc.. with the physical elements of the land around it. I would have liked to pursue this further by walking around the outside of the b...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 29, 2006

Art Museum of Estonia
Weizenbergi 34
Tallinn, Estonia 10127
+372 602 6001

Kiek in de Koek

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Attraction | "Kiek in de Kok"

Kiek in de Koek Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
First of all this tower has such a wonderful name Kiek in de Kok, which means, in Low German, "peep into the kitchen"! Apparently soldiers in the tower used to be able to see into the kitchens of houses below it, hence the name.The 118 ft (36 m) cannon tower was originally built in the 15th century as part of the city's defences. Its solid 13 ft thick stone walls proved invaluable during the siege of 1577 when Russian soldiers blasted a huge hole in the tower but could still not penetrate it or the city.Now the tower contains an interesting museum relating to the defences of Tallinn and the various wars and sieges that the city, and tower, has witnessed. Exhibits include two cannon...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 29, 2006

Kiek in de Koek
Old Town
Tallinn, Estonia

Church of Holy Ghost

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Attraction | "Puhavaimu Kirik (Church of the Holy Ghost)"

Church of Holy Ghost Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
Tucked away in plain sight may seem rather a contradiction in terms but having walked past Puhavaimu Kirik (Church of the Holy Ghost) a few times while looking for it and then standing outside for 5 minutes saying "but it should be here" I would say it is quite an apt description.This is a lovely little church and one rich in history. Completed in the 14th Century the church provided an almshouse service, tending to the old, impoverished and ill, and its congregation was mainly made up of the poorer section of society. After the Reformation this was the first church in which sermons were given in the Estonian language and one of its pastors, Johan Knell, is credited which translating and pro...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 30, 2006

Church of Holy Ghost
Puhavaimu Street
Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum)

Attraction | "Tallinn City Museum"

Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum) Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
The Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum) traces the development of the city from its earliest origins to Estonia?s independence in 1991.The exhibits encompass social and political history, trade, influences, occupations, revolution and independence. Interesting aspects include how Toompea and the Old Lower Town were administered separately and the tensions between the two areas. The latter part of the exhibition dedicated to life under Soviet rule is rather thought provoking as propaganda and real life are displayed side by side. The building in which the museum dwells, an old merchants house, is also interesting as there are a number of exhibits exploring domestic...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 30, 2006

Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum)
Vene Street 17
Tallinn, Estonia 10123
+372 (2) 644 6553

Fat Margaret's Tower

Attraction | "Fat Margaret's Tower & Great Coastal Gate "

Fat Margaret's Tower Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
At the end of Pikk Tanav (Pikk Street) stands the Great Coastal Gate and the wonderfully named Fat Margaret's Tower.When the Great Coastal Gate and its fortifications were built in the early 14th Century Tallinn's harbour was just outside the city walls and the gate was one of the major access points through the walls of Tallinn and into the city. The cannon tower, 82 m (25 feet) in diameter and with 5m (17 feet) thick walls, was added in the early 16th Century to give the harbour area additional protection, its bulk earning it the nickname Fat Margaret.The tower now house the Estonian Maritime Museum which, sadly, we didn’t get chance to visit.Estonian Maritime Museum is...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 30, 2006

Fat Margaret's Tower
Pikk Tanav
Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn Town Hall/Town Hall Square

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Attraction | "Town Hall"

Tallinn Town Hall/Town Hall Square Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
On one side of Raekoja plats sits the imposing Raekoda or Town Hall, the representation of medieval power in the Lower Town.The limestone building dates from the late 14th/early 15th Century and was completed in 1404, the thin minaret like tower was, according to legend, based on a sketch by an explorer who had visited the Orient. On top this is the spire, originally pyramidal but replaced in 1627 by a tapering Baroque style. Surmounting this – but dating from nearly 100 years earlier - is Vana Toomas (Old Thomas) – guardsman, lookout, weathervane, and another symbol of the city (see separate tip). Like the spire the decorative dragon shaped gargoyles at the base of the roof are also a Renaiss...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 19, 2007

Tallinn Town Hall/Town Hall Square
Raekoja Plats
Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn Town Hall/Town Hall Square

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Attraction | "Town Hall - Cellar"

Tallinn Town Hall/Town Hall Square Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
When we visited the Town Hall the cellar, was hosting a very interesting exhibition entitled “A Mighty Fortress”, concentrating on the late medieval period this explored the feudal system, the system of law, the relationship between town, and county and the rivalry between the Lower Town and Toompea, the Upper Town.At that point in time the Lower Town was expanding at a fast rate and the authorities needed people to work as builders, labourers, etc. so runaway peasants/servants from the country, or Toompea, were allowed to stay in the Lower Town and, if they remained there for a year and a day they became free. Their master could, during this time, apply to have them returned but this was quit...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 19, 2007

Tallinn Town Hall/Town Hall Square
Raekoja Plats
Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum)

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Attraction | "Tallinn City Museum - Old Thomas"

Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum) Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
This figure, in the Tallinn City museum, is of Vana Toomas or Old Thomas. As a boy Thomas, had, according to legend, came to prominence in a parrot shooting contest. The contest was only open to the wealthy but, despite their training and fine weapons, none of them hit the target. Up stepped poor local boy Thomas who, with his simple wooden bow, hit the parrot with his first shot. Disregarding the anger of the other contestant, embarrassed and annoyed at being shown up by not only a boy put a poverty stricken one at that, Thomas was championed by the Alderman of the Great Guild who trained the boy to be a town guard, a task he undertook with great success into his own old age.Such an inspiring...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 19, 2007

Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum)
Vene Street 17
Tallinn, Estonia 10123
+372 (2) 644 6553

St. Olaf's Church

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Attraction | "St. Olaf's Church Tower"

St. Olaf's Church Photo, Tallinn, Estonia
Quote:
The 124m spire of Oleviste Kirik (St. Olaf’s Church) is another recognisable feature on the Tallinn skyline. The spire used to be taller, 159 metres, and between 1549 and 1625 was the tallest building in the world and provided a beacon to ships far out to sea, an advantage for the maritime port of Tallinn. Legend says that the tower was built by a mysterious stranger who tempted the town elders by telling them he could build the spire higher and faster than anyone else. For this he asked for 10 bags of gold but with the proviso that if the townspeople found out his name before he had completed his work he would forfeit this payment. The elders, thinking that there was no way he could co...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 19, 2007

St. Olaf's Church
Lai tanav
Tallinn, Estonia