Lake Ülemiste

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Lake Ülemiste
LocationKesklinn, Tallinn
Coordinates59°24′N 24°46′E / 59.400°N 24.767°E / 59.400; 24.767Coordinates: 59°24′N 24°46′E / 59.400°N 24.767°E / 59.400; 24.767
Lake typeEutrophic
Primary inflowsVaskjala–Ülemiste canal (from Pirita River), Kurna stream, Ruunaoja stream
Primary outflowsTallinn water system; historically Härjapea River
Catchment area99.24 km2 (38.32 sq mi)
Basin countriesEstonia
Max. length4.1 km (2.5 mi)
Max. width3.2 km (2.0 mi)
Surface area9.436 km2 (3.643 sq mi)
Average depth2.5 m (8.2 ft)
Max. depth4.2 m (14 ft)
Shore length115.219 km (9.5 mi)
Surface elevation35.7 m (117 ft)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Ülemiste (Estonian: Ülemiste järv) is the largest of the lakes surrounding Tallinn, Estonia. Ülemiste is the main part of the Tallinn water supply system, where most of the city gets its drinking water from. The lake is fed mostly by Kurna stream and Pirita River (through Vaskjala–Ülemiste canal).

Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport is located on the eastern shore of the lake and aircraft regularly take off and land over the lake. The airport maintains the necessary equipment ready to tow out in a short time any aircraft that crashes into the lake, as required by ICAO regulations.

The Tallinn Water Company, AS Tallinna Vesi, has a treatment plant on the North shore of the lake which supplies 90% of the water to the city. The remaining 10% comes from ground water wells which, whilst are not necessary as the lake can supply the entire city, are nevertheless maintained as a backup in case the lake ever became contaminated. Such a risk is not trivial considering the proximity of Tallinn Airport to the lake.

On 18 March 2010 a DHL Antonov An-26 aircraft made an emergency landing on the ice of Lake Ülemiste and 1,5 tons of fuel leaked into the water. Fortunately all of the pollution was eventually removed, and none of the 6 crew members were injured.[2][3][4]

Administratively Lake Ülemiste is part of Tallinn's central district Kesklinn, and constitutes Ülemistejärve subdistrict with its neighbouring forests. As of 1 January 2014, the population of the subdistrict is 203.[5]

Mythology and fiction

In the lake there is boulder called Lindakivi ("Linda's rock"). In Estonian mythology, it is believed to be one of the boulders Linda was supposed to carry to Kalev's grave at Toompea, but which fell off her apron. She sat on the boulder and cried, thus creating the lake.

The legendary-mythological "Ülemiste Elder" (Estonian: Ülemiste vanake) is believed to live in the lake. If anyone should meet him, then he is believed to ask: "Is Tallinn ready yet?". If then the other person answered "yes", then he would flood the city. Thus, the correct answer would be: "No, there is much to be done yet".



  1. ^ "Ülemiste järv" (in Estonian). EELIS – Estonian Nature Infosystem. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  2. ^ "Cargo plane makes emergency landing on Ülemiste Lake". 2010-03-18. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  3. ^ "Plane makes emergency landing on frozen lake". Earth Times. 2010-03-18. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  4. ^ Tere, Juhan (2010-03-18). "Polish cargo plane falls into ice of Lake Ülemiste in Estonia". The Baltic Course. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  5. ^ "Statistical Yearbook of Tallinn 2014". Tallinn City Government. p. 52. Retrieved 27 November 2014.

External links