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Tallinn

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Tallinn
City
From top to bottom: Viru Gate, Old Town of Tallinn, City Center
From top to bottom: Viru Gate, Old Town of Tallinn, City Center
Flag of Tallinn
Flag
Coat of arms of Tallinn
Coat of arms
Official logo of Tallinn
Logo
Tallinn is located in Estonia
Tallinn
Tallinn
Coordinates: 59°26′14″N 24°44′43″E / 59.43722°N 24.74528°E / 59.43722; 24.74528Coordinates: 59°26′14″N 24°44′43″E / 59.43722°N 24.74528°E / 59.43722; 24.74528
Country  Estonia
County Flag of et-Harju maakond.svg Harju County
First appeared on map 1154
Town rights 1248
Government
 • Deputy Mayor Taavi Aas (Centre Party)
Area
 • City 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi)
Elevation 9 m (30 ft)
Population (1 September 2016[2])
 • City 441,961
 • Rank 1st (67th in EU)
 • Density 2,800/km2 (7,200/sq mi)
 • Metro 542,983[1]
Demonym(s) Tallinner
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 15199
Area code(s) (+372) 64
Vehicle registration A-B
Website www.tallinn.ee

Tallinn (/ˈtɑːlɪn/[3][4] or /ˈtælɪn/,[5] Estonian pronunciation: [ˈtɑlʲˑinˑ];[6] names in other languages) is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, 80 km (50 mi) south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. From the 13th century until 1918 (and briefly during the Nazi occupation of Estonia from 1941 to 1944), the city was known as Reval.[7] Tallinn occupies an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) and has a population of 440,950.[2] Approximately 32% of Estonia's total population lives in Tallinn.[8]

Tallinn was founded in 1248, but the earliest human settlements are over 5,000 years old, making it one of the oldest capital cities of Northern Europe. Due to its strategic location, the city became a major trade hub, especially from the 14th to the 16th century, when it grew in importance as part of the Hanseatic League.

Tallinn's Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[9] Tallinn is the major political, financial, cultural and educational center of Estonia. Often dubbed as the Silicon Valley of Europe,[10] it has the highest number of startups per person in Europe[11] and is a birthplace of many international companies including Skype. Providing to the global cybersecurity it is the home to the NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. It is ranked as a global city and has been listed among the top 10 digital cities in the world.[12] The city was a European Capital of Culture for 2011, along with Turku in Finland.

Toponymy[edit]

Historical names[edit]

In 1154, a town called Qlwn[13] or Qalaven (which may be derivations of Kalevan or Kolyvan)[14][15] was put on the world map of the Almoravid by the Arab cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, who described it as "a small town like a large castle" among the towns of 'Astlanda'. It has been suggested that Quwri may have denoted a predecessor of the modern city.[16][17] The earliest names of Tallinn include Kolyvan (Russian: Колывань), which is known from East Slavic chronicles and which may have come from the Estonian mythical hero Kalev.[18][19]

Up to the 13th century, the Scandinavians and Henry of Livonia in his chronicle called the town Lindanisa (or Lyndanisse in Danish,[20][21][22] Lindanäs in Swedish and Ledenets in Old East Slavic. According to some poetical suggestions, this name was derived from Linda, the mythical wife of Kalev and the mother of Kalevipoeg,[23] who in an Estonian legend carried rocks to her husband's grave, which formed the Toompea hill.[24] It has been also suggested that the archaic Estonian word linda is similar to the Votic word lidna, meaning a castle or town. According to this suggestion, nisa would have the meaning 'niemi' (or 'peninsula'), producing Kesoniemi, the old Finnish name for the city.[25] Another ancient historical name for Tallinn in Finnish is Rääveli. The Icelandic Njal's saga mentions Tallinn and calls it Rafala, which is a variant of the name Raphael.

After the Danish conquest in 1219, the town became known in the German, Swedish and Danish languages as Reval (Latin: Revalia). The name originated from (Latin) Revelia (Estonian) Revala or Rävala, the adjacent ancient name of the surrounding area.

Modern name[edit]

The lesser coat of arms of Tallinn, which depicts the Dannebrog cross.

The name Tallinn(a) is Estonian. It is usually thought to be derived from Taani-linn(a), (meaning 'Danish-castle or town' (Latin: Castrum Danorum), after the Danes built the castle in place of the Estonian stronghold at Lindanisse. However, it could also have come from tali-linna ('winter-castle or town'), or talu-linna ('house/farmstead-castle or town'). The element -linna, like Germanic -burg and Slavic -grad / -gorod, originally meant 'fortress', but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names.

The previously-used official names in German About this sound Reval  and Russian Revel (Ревель), were replaced after Estonia became independent in 1918. At first both forms Tallinna and Tallinn were used.[26] The United States Board on Geographic Names adopted the form Tallinn between June 1923 and June 1927.[27] Tallinna in Estonian denotes the genitive case of the name, as in Tallinna Reisisadam ('the Port of Tallinn').

In Russian, the spelling of the name was changed from Таллинн to Таллин[28] (Tallin) by the Soviet authorities in the 1950s, and this spelling is still officially sanctioned by the Russian government, while Estonian authorities have been using the spelling Таллинн in Russian-language publications since the restoration of independence. The form Таллин is also used in several other languages using the Cyrillic script. Due to the Russian spelling, the form Tallin is sometimes found in international publications; it is also the official form in Spanish.[29]

Other variations of modern spellings include Tallinna in Finnish, Tallina in Latvian and Talinas in Lithuanian.

History[edit]

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
The historical Old Town
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 822bis
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1997 (21st Session)
The Danish flag falling from the sky in the 1219 Battle of Lyndanisse.
Seal of Reval, 1340

The first traces of human settlement found in Tallinn's city center by archeologists are about 5,000 years old. The comb ceramic pottery found on the site dates to about 3000 BCE and corded ware pottery c. 2500 BCE.[30]

Old Thomas is one of the symbols and guardians of Tallinn
Port of Reval in 1853

Around 1050, the first fortress was built on Tallinn Toompea.[14]

As an important port for trade between Russia and Scandinavia, it became a target for the expansion of the Teutonic Knights and the Kingdom of Denmark during the period of Northern Crusades in the beginning of the 13th century when Christianity was forcibly imposed on the local population. Danish rule of Tallinn and Northern Estonia started in 1219.

In 1285, the city, then known as Reval, became the northern most member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Reval along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Knights in 1346. Medieval Reval enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. The city, with a population of 8,000, was very well fortified with city walls and 66 defence towers.

A weather vane, the figure of an old warrior called Old Thomas, was put on top of the spire of the Tallinn Town Hall in 1530 that became the symbol for the city.

With the start of the Protestant Reformation the German influence became even stronger as the city was converted to Lutheranism. In 1561, Reval politically became a dominion of Sweden.

During the Great Northern War, plague stricken Tallinn along with Swedish Estonia and Livonia capitulated to Imperial Russia in 1710, but the local self-government institutions (Magistracy of Reval and Chivalry of Estonia) retained their cultural and economical autonomy within Imperial Russia as the Governorate of Estonia. The Magistracy of Reval was abolished in 1889. The 19th century brought industrialization of the city and the port kept its importance. During the last decades of the century Russification measures became stronger.

On 24 February 1918, the Independence Manifesto was proclaimed in Reval, soon to be Tallinn, followed by Imperial German occupation and a war of independence with Russia. On 2 February 1920, the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed with Soviet Russia, wherein Russia acknowledged the independence of the Estonian Republic. Tallinn became the capital of an independent Estonia. After World War II started, Estonia acceded to the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1940, and later occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944. After the Nazi retreat in 1944, it was annexed by the USSR. After annexation into the Soviet Union, Tallinn became the capital of the Estonian SSR.

During the 1980 Summer Olympics, the sailing (then known as yachting) events were held at Pirita, north-east of central Tallinn. Many buildings, such as the "Olümpia" hotel, the new Main Post Office building, and the Regatta Centre, were built for the Olympics.

In August 1991, an independent democratic Estonian state was established and a period of quick development to a modern European capital ensued. Tallinn became the capital of a de facto independent country once again on 20 August 1991.

Tallinn has historically consisted of three parts:

  • The Toompea (Domberg) or "Cathedral Hill", which was the seat of the central authority: first the Danish captains, then the komturs of the Teutonic Order, and Swedish and Russian governors. It was until 1877 a separate town (Dom zu Reval), the residence of the aristocracy; it is today the seat of the Estonian parliament, government and some embassies and residencies.
  • The Old Town, which is the old Hanseatic town, the "city of the citizens", was not administratively united with Cathedral Hill until the late 19th century. It was the centre of the medieval trade on which it grew prosperous.
  • The Estonian town forms a crescent to the south of the Old Town, where the Estonians came to settle. It was not until the mid-19th century that ethnic Estonians replaced the local Baltic Germans as the majority among the residents of Tallinn.

The city of Tallinn has never been razed and pillaged;[citation needed] that was the fate of Tartu, the university town 200 km (124 mi) south, which was pillaged in 1397 by the Teutonic Order. Around 1524 Catholic churches in many towns in Estonia, including Tallinn, were pillaged as part of the Reformational fervor: this occurred throughout Europe. Although extensively bombed by Soviet air forces during the later stages of World War II, much of the medieval Old Town still retains its charm. The Tallinn Old Town (including Toompea) became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

At the end of the 15th century a new 159 m (521.65 ft) high Gothic spire was built for St. Olaf's Church. Between 1549 and 1625 it may have been the tallest building in the world. After several fires and subsequent periods of rebuilding, its overall height is now 123 m (403.54 ft).

Toompea Castle (Toompea loss)

Geography[edit]

Panorama of Tallinn's City Centre

Tallinn is situated on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, in north-western Estonia.

The largest lake in Tallinn is Lake Ülemiste (9.44 km2 (3.6 sq mi)). It is the main source of the city's drinking water. Lake Harku is the second largest lake within the borders of Tallinn and its area is 1.6 square kilometres (0.6 sq mi). Tallinn does not lie on a major river. The only significant river in Tallinn is Pirita River in Pirita, a city district counted as a suburb. Historically, the small Härjapea River flowed from Lake Ülemiste through the town into the sea, but the river was diverted for sewage in the 1930s and has since completely disappeared from the cityscape. References to it still remain in the street names Jõe (from Jõgi, river) and Kivisilla (from Kivisild, stone bridge).

A limestone cliff runs through the city. It can be seen at Toompea, Lasnamäe and Astangu. However, Toompea is not a part of the cliff, but a separate hill.

The highest point in Tallinn, at 64 meters above sea level, is situated in Hiiu, Nõmme District, in the south-west of the city.

The length of the coast is 46 kilometres (29 miles). It comprises three bigger peninsulas: Kopli peninsula, Paljassaare peninsula and Kakumäe peninsula.

Climate[edit]

Tallinn has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with warm, mild summers and cold, snowy winters.[31] Winters are cold but mild for its latitude, owing to its coastal location. The average temperature in February, the coldest month, is −4.3 °C (24.3 °F). During the winter months, temperatures tend to hover close to the freezing mark but mild spells of weather can push temperatures above 0 °C (32 °F), occasionally reaching above 5 °C (41 °F) while cold air masses can push temperatures below −18 °C (0 °F). On average there are 3–6 hours of above freezing throughout the day and 6 hours when the temperature reaches or drops below −17 °C (1 °F).[32] Snowfall is common during the winter months. Winters are cloudy[33] and are characterized by low amounts of sunshine, ranging from only 0.5 hours of sunshine per day in December to 4.1 hours in March.[34] At the winter solstice daylight lasts for only 6 hours.[35]

Spring starts out cool, with freezing temperatures common in March and April but gradually becomes warmer in late May when daytime temperatures average 15.2 °C (59.4 °F) although nighttime temperatures still remain cool, averaging −1.0 to 5.2 °C (30.2 to 41.4 °F) from March to May. Snowfall is common in March and can occur in April.[33]

Summers are mild with daytime temperatures hovering around 19 to 21 °C (66 to 70 °F) and nighttime temperatures averaging between 9.6 to 12.7 °C (49.3 to 54.9 °F) from June to August. The warmest month is usually July, with an average of 17.2 °C (63.0 °F). Periods of hot weather are rare during the summer months, with only 31 days per year where the temperature reaches or exceeds 21.0 °C (69.8 °F).[32] During summer, partly cloudy or clear days are common[33] and it is the sunniest season, ranging from 7.4 hours of sunshine in August to 10.1 hours in June although precipitation is higher during these months.[34] As a consequence of its high latitude, at the summer solstice, daylight lasts for more than 18 hours and 30 minutes.[36]

Fall starts out mild, with a September average of 11.3 °C (52.3 °F) and increasingly becomes cooler and cloudier towards the end of November.[33] In the early parts of fall, temperatures commonly reach 15 °C (59 °F) on some days and at least one day above 21 °C (70 °F) in September. In the latter months of fall, freezing temperatures become more common and snowfall can occur.

Tallinn receives 618 millimeters (24.3 in) of precipitation annually which is evenly distributed throughout the year although March and April are the driest months, averaging about 30 millimeters (1.2 in) while July and August are the wettest months with 74 millimeters (2.9 in) of precipitation. The average humidity is 81%, ranging from a high of 88% to a low of 69% in May. Tallinn has an average windspeed of 3.5 metres per second (11 ft/s) with winters being the windiest (around 4.0 metres per second (13 ft/s) in January) and summers being the least windiest at around 2.9 m/s (9.5 ft/s) in July and August.[33] Extremes range from −31.1 °C (−24.0 °F) in January 1940 to 34.3 °C (93.7 °F) in July 1994.[33]

Climate data for Tallinn, Estonia (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 9.2
(48.6)
10.2
(50.4)
15.9
(60.6)
27.2
(81)
29.4
(84.9)
30.7
(87.3)
34.3
(93.7)
34.2
(93.6)
28.0
(82.4)
21.8
(71.2)
12.1
(53.8)
10.7
(51.3)
34.3
(93.7)
Average high °C (°F) −1.0
(30.2)
−1.6
(29.1)
2.3
(36.1)
9.2
(48.6)
15.3
(59.5)
18.9
(66)
21.9
(71.4)
20.4
(68.7)
15.2
(59.4)
9.5
(49.1)
3.5
(38.3)
0.4
(32.7)
9.5
(49.1)
Daily mean °C (°F) −3.3
(26.1)
−4.3
(24.3)
−1.0
(30.2)
4.5
(40.1)
10.1
(50.2)
14.1
(57.4)
17.2
(63)
16.0
(60.8)
11.3
(52.3)
6.5
(43.7)
1.3
(34.3)
−1.9
(28.6)
5.9
(42.6)
Average low °C (°F) −5.9
(21.4)
−7.1
(19.2)
−4.1
(24.6)
0.6
(33.1)
5.2
(41.4)
9.5
(49.1)
12.7
(54.9)
12.0
(53.6)
7.6
(45.7)
3.8
(38.8)
−0.9
(30.4)
−4.3
(24.3)
2.4
(36.3)
Record low °C (°F) −31.4
(−24.5)
−28.7
(−19.7)
−24.5
(−12.1)
−12.0
(10.4)
−5.0
(23)
0.0
(32)
4.0
(39.2)
2.4
(36.3)
−4.1
(24.6)
−10.5
(13.1)
−18.8
(−1.8)
−24.3
(−11.7)
−31.4
(−24.5)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 56
(2.2)
36
(1.42)
37
(1.46)
32
(1.26)
36
(1.42)
64
(2.52)
84
(3.31)
86
(3.39)
67
(2.64)
78
(3.07)
70
(2.76)
57
(2.24)
704
(27.72)
Average rainy days 10 8 9 12 11 13 13 14 17 18 16 12 153
Average snowy days 19 18 13 5 0.4 0 0 0.1 0.1 2 11 18 87
Average relative humidity (%) 88 85 81 73 69 74 76 79 82 85 88 88 81
Mean monthly sunshine hours 25.0 55.7 129.3 202.8 292.9 285.7 307.4 240.7 151.5 87.4 28.6 18.8 1,825.8
Source #1: Estonian Weather Service[37][38][39][40]
Source #2: Pogoda.ru.net (rainy and snowy days)[33]

Administrative districts[edit]

Districts of Tallinn
District Population
(September 2016)[2]
Area[41] Density
1. Haabersti 44,516 22.26 km2 (8.6 sq mi) 1,999.8/km2 (5,179.5/sq mi)
2. Kesklinn (centre) 60,848 30.56 km2 (11.8 sq mi) 1,991.1/km2 (5,156.9/sq mi)
3. Kristiine 32,746 7.84 km2 (3.0 sq mi) 4,176.8/km2 (10,817.8/sq mi)
4. Lasnamäe 119,237 27.47 km2 (10.6 sq mi) 4,340.6/km2 (11,242.2/sq mi)
5. Mustamäe 67,506 8.09 km2 (3.1 sq mi) 8,344.4/km2 (21,611.8/sq mi)
6. Nõmme 39,371 29.17 km2 (11.3 sq mi) 1,349.7/km2 (3,495.7/sq mi)
7. Pirita 18,203 18.73 km2 (7.2 sq mi) 971.9/km2 (2,517.1/sq mi)
8. Põhja-Tallinn 59,534 15.9 km2 (6.1 sq mi) 3,744.3/km2 (9,697.6/sq mi)

For local government purposes, Tallinn is subdivided into 8 administrative districts (Estonian: linnaosad, singular linnaosa). The district governments are city institutions that fulfill, in the territory of their district, the functions assigned to them by Tallinn legislation and statutes.

Each district government is managed by an Elder (Estonian: linnaosavanem). He or she is appointed by the City Government on the nomination of the Mayor and after having heard the opinion of the Administrative Councils. The function of the Administrative Councils is to recommend, to the City Government and Commissions of the City Council, how the districts should be administered.

The admisistrative districts are further divided into subdistricts or neighbourhoods (Estonian: asum). Their names and borders are officially defined. Currently there are 84 subdistricts in Tallinn.[42]

Demographics[edit]

Largest ethnic minority groups[43]
Ethnic Minority Population (2015)  %
Russians 151,122 36.52
Other, incl: 36,883 8.91
Ukrainians 11,794 2.85
Belarusians 6,173 1.49
Finns 2,071 0.50
Jews 1,510 0.36
Tatars 1,045 0.25
Lithuanians 827 0.20
Latvians 662 0.16
Germans 518 0.13

The registered population of Tallinn on 1 June 2016 was 440,950.[2]

According to Eurostat, in 2004 Tallinn had one of the largest number of non-EU nationals of all EU member states' capital cities with Russians forming a significant minority (~37% belong to the Russian ethnic group, but a majority now hold Estonian citizenship).[44] Ethnic Estonians make up about 55% of the population (as of 2014).

The official language of Tallinn is Estonian. In 2011, 206,490 (50.1%) spoke Estonian as their native language and 192,199 (46.7%) spoke Russian as their native language. Other spoken languages include Ukrainian, Belarusian and Finnish.[45]

Year 1372 1772 1816 1834 1851 1881 1897 1925 1959 1989 2000 2005 2015 2016
Population 3,250 6,954 12,000 15,300 24,000 45,900 58,800 119,800 283,071 478,974 400,378 401,694 438,569 440,043

Economy[edit]

Tornimäe business area
Rotermann business district

Tallinn is the financial and business capital of Estonia. The city has a highly diversified economy with particular strengths in information technology, tourism and logistics. Daily Mail called Tallinn one of world's seven smartest cities.[46] Currently, over half of the Estonian GDP is created in Tallinn.[47] In 2008, the GDP per capita of Tallinn stood at 172% of the Estonian average.[48]

Information technology[edit]

In addition to longtime functions as seaport and capital city, Tallinn has seen development of an information technology sector; in its 13 December 2005, edition, The New York Times characterized Estonia as "a sort of Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea".[49] One of Tallinn's sister cities is the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos, California. Skype is one of the best-known of several Estonian start-ups originating from Tallinn. Many start-ups originated from the Soviet-era Institute of Cybernetics. In recent years Tallinn has gradually been becoming one of the main IT centre of Europe, with CCD COE of NATO, EU Agency for large-scale IT systems and IT development centres of large corporations, such as TeliaSonera and Kuehne + Nagel being based in the city. Smaller start-up incubators like Garage48 and Game Founders have helped to provide support to teams from Estonia and around the world looking for support, development and networking opportunities.[50]

Tourism[edit]

Tallinn receives more than 1.5 million visitors annually,[51] a figure that has grown steadily over the past decade.

Tallinn's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a major tourist attraction; others include the Seaplane Harbour of Estonian Maritime Museum, the Tallinn Zoo, Kadriorg Park, and the Estonian Open Air Museum. Most of the visitors come from Europe, though Tallinn has also become increasingly visited by tourists from Russia and the Asia-Pacific region.[52]

Tallinn Passenger Port is one of the busiest cruise destinations on the Baltic Sea, serving more than 520,000 cruise passengers in 2013.[53] From year 2011 regular cruise turnarounds in cooperation with Tallinn Airport are organised.

Energy[edit]

Eesti Energia, a large oil shale to energy company,[54] has its headquarters in Tallinn. The city also hosts the headquarters of Elering, a national electric power transmission system operator and member of ENTSO-E, the Estonian natural gas company Eesti Gaas and energy holding company Alexela Energia, part of Alexela Group. Nord Pool Spot, the largest market for electrical energy in the world, established its local office in Tallinn.

Finance[edit]

SEB main building, located in Tornimäe district

Tallinn is the financial centre of Estonia and also a strong economic centre in the Scandinavian-Baltic region. Many major banks, such as SEB, Swedbank, Nordea, DNB, have their local offices in Tallinn. LHV Pank, an Estonian investment bank, has its corporate headquarters in Tallinn. Tallinn Stock Exchange, part of NASDAQ OMX Group, is the only regulated exchange in Estonia.

Logistics[edit]

Port of Tallinn is one of the biggest ports in the Baltic sea region.[55] Old City Harbour is being known as a convenient harbour since the 10th century, but nowadays the cargo operations are shifted to Muuga Cargo Port and Paldiski Southern Port. There is a small fleet of oceangoing trawlers that operate out of Tallinn.[56]

Manufacturing sector[edit]

Tallinn industries include shipbuilding, machine building, metal processing, electronics, textile manufacturing. BLRT Grupp has its headquarters and some subsidiaries in Tallinn. Air Maintenance Estonia and AS Panaviatic Maintenance, both based in Tallinn Airport, provide MRO services for aircraft, largely expanding their operations in recent years.

Food processing[edit]

Liviko, the maker of Vana Tallinn liqueur, strongly associated with the city, is based in Tallinn. The headquarters of Kalev, a confectionery company and part of the industrial conglomerate Orkla Group, is located in Lehmja, southeast of Tallinn.

Retail[edit]

The city draws large numbers of shopping tourists from countries within the region. When new planned retail developments are completed, Tallinn will have almost 2 square metres of shopping floor space per inhabitant. As Estonia is already ranked third in Europe in terms of shopping space per inhabitant, ahead of Sweden and being surpassed only by Norway and Luxembourg, it will further improve the positions of the city as the major centre of shopping.[57]

Notable headquarters[edit]

Among others:

Education[edit]

The buildings of Tallinn University of Technology

Institutions of higher education and science include:

Culture[edit]

Museums[edit]

Entrance to Tallinn Legends

Tallinn is home to more than 60 museums and galleries.[67]

Estonian Art Museum

Most of them are located in Kesklinn, central district of the city and cover Tallinn's rich history. One of the most visited historical museums in Tallinn is Estonian History Museum located in Great Guild Hall at Vanalinn, the old part of the city.[68]

Mikkel Museum

Museum covers Estonia's history from prehistoric times’ up until the end of the 20th century.[69] It features film and hands-on displays that show how Estonian dwellers lived and survived.[69]

Kumu Art Museum

Estonian Maritime Museum provides a detailed overview of nation's seafaring past. This museum in also located in city's Old Town, where it occupies one of Tallinn's former defensive structures - Fat Margaret's Tower.[70] Another historical museum that can be found at city's Old Town, just behind the Town Hall is Tallinn City Museum. It covers Tallinn's history from pre-history until 1991, when Estonia regained its independence.[71] Tallinn City Museum owns 9 more departments and museums around the city.[71] Tallinn's Museum of Photography that is also located just behind the Town Hall is one of its branches. It features permanent exhibition that covers 100 years of photography in Estonia.[72] Estonia's Museum of Occupation is yet another historical museum located in Tallinn's central district. It covers 52 years when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.[73] Not far from Museum of Occupation located another museum that relates to Soviet occupation of Estonia. KGB Museum that occupies 23rd floor of Sokos Hotel Viru features equipment, uniforms and documents of Russian Secret Service agents.[74] Those that are interested in history of Estonian culture and folklore may visit Tallinn Legends, an interactive museum with elements of theatrical performance. It covers real historical events and urban legends that have influenced history of Estonian folklore.[75]

Tallinn is also home to two major natural science museums - Estonian Museum of Natural History and Estonian Health Care Museum; both are located in Old Town. Estonian Museum of Natural Science features several seasonal and temporary themed exhibitions that provide an overview of wildlife in Estonia and around the world.[76] Estonian Health Care Museum features permanent exhibitions on anatomy and health care. It collects and displays heritage related to the history of medicine in Estonia.[77] Estonia's capital is also home to many art and design museums. Estonian Art Museum, country's biggest art museum that was originally based in Kadriorg Palace, now consists of 4 branches - Kumu Art Museum, Kadriorg Art Museum, Mikkel Museum and Niguliste Museum. Kumu Art Museum features country's largest collection of contemporary and modern art. It also displays Estonian art starting from the early 18th century.[78] Those who are interested in Western European and Russian art may enjoy Kadriorg Art Museum collections. Museum is located in Kadriorg Palace, a beautiful Baroque building erected by Peter the Great. It stores and displays about 9,000 works of art from the 16th to 20th centuries.[79] Mikkel Museum that is also located in Kadriorg park displays a collection of mainly Western art - ceramics and Chinese porcelain donated by Johannes Mikkel in 1994. Niguliste Museum currently occupies former St. Nicolas' Church, Tallinn and displays collections of historical ecclesiastical art spanning nearly seven centuries from the Middle Ages to post-Reformation art. Those that are interested in design and applied art may enjoy Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design collection of Estonian contemporary designs. It displays up to 15.000 pieces of work made of textile art, ceramics, porcelain, leather, glass, jewellery, metalwork, furniture and product design.[80] In order to experience a more relaxed, culture oriented exhibits one may turn to Museum of Estonian Drinking Culture. This museum showcases the historic Luscher & Matiesen Distillery as well as the history of Estonian alcohol production.[81]

Lauluväljak[edit]

The Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (Lauluväljak)

The Estonian Song Festival (in Estonian: Laulupidu) is one of the largest choral events in the world, listed by the UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It is held every five years in July on the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (Lauluväljak) simultaneously with the Estonian Dance Festival.[82] The joint choir has comprised more than 30,000 singers performing to an audience of 80,000.[82][83]

Often referred to as The Singing Nation, the Estonians have one of the biggest collections of folk songs in the world, with written records of about 133,000 folk songs.[84] From 1987, a cycle of mass demonstrations featuring spontaneous singing eventually collected 300,000 people, more than a quarter of all Estonians in Tallinn to sing national songs and hymns that were strictly forbidden[citation needed] during the years of the Soviet occupation to peacefully resist the illegal oppression.

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival[edit]

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (Estonian: Pimedate Ööde Filmifestival, or PÖFF), is an annual film festival held since 1997 in Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia. PÖFF is the only festival in the Nordic and Baltic region with a FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Association) accreditation for holding an international competition programme in the Nordic and Baltic region with 14 other non-specialised festivals, such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice. With over 250 feature films screened each year and over 77500 attendances (2014), PÖFF is one of the largest film events of Northern Europe and cultural events in Estonia in the winter season. During its 19th edition in 2015 the festival screened more than 600 films (including 250+ feature-length films from 80 different countries), bringing over 900 screenings to an audience of over 80, 000 people as well as over 700 accredited guests and journalists from 50 different countries. In 2010 the festival held the European Film Awards ceremony in Tallinn.

Tourism[edit]

St. Olaf's Church may have been the tallest building in the world from 1549 to 1625
Stenbock House on Toompea hill is the official seat of the Government of Estonia
View from Toompea hill, illustrating Tallinn's mix of ancient and contemporary architecture

What can arguably be considered to be Tallinn's main attractions are located in the old town of Tallinn (divided into a "lower town" and Toompea hill) which is easily explored on foot. The eastern parts of the city, notably Pirita (with Pirita Convent) and Kadriorg (with Kadriorg Palace) districts, are also popular destinations, and the Estonian Open Air Museum in Rocca al Mare, west of the city, preserves aspects of Estonian rural culture and architecture.

Toompea – Upper Town[edit]

Main article: Toompea

This area was once an almost separate town, heavily fortified, and has always been the seat of whatever power that has ruled Estonia. The hill occupies an easily defensible site overlooking the surrounding districts. The major attractions are the medieval Toompea Castle (today housing the Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu), the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Lutheran St Mary's Cathedral, also known as the Dome Church (Estonian: Toomkirik).

All-linn – Lower Town[edit]

This area is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe and the authorities are continuing its rehabilitation. Major sights include the Town Hall square (Estonian: Raekoja plats ), the city wall and towers (notably "Fat Margaret" and "Kiek in de Kök") as well as a number of medieval churches, including St Olaf's, St. Nicholas' and the Church of the Holy Ghost.

Kadriorg[edit]

Main article: Kadriorg

This is 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) east of the city centre and is served by buses and trams. Kadriorg Palace, the former palace of Peter the Great, built just after the Great Northern War, now houses the foreign art department of the Art Museum of Estonia, the presidential residence and the surrounding grounds include formal gardens and woodland.

The main building of the Art Museum of Estonia, Kumu (Estonian: Kunstimuuseum, Art Museum), was built in 2006 and lies in Kadriorg park. It houses an encyclopaedic collection of Estonian art, including paintings by Carl Timoleon von Neff, Johann Köler, Eduard Ole, Jaan Koort, Konrad Mägi, Eduard Wiiralt, Henn Roode and Adamson-Eric, among others.

Pirita[edit]

Main article: Pirita

This coastal district is a further 2 kilometres north-east of Kadriorg. The marina was built for the Moscow Olympics of 1980, and boats can be hired on the Pirita River. Two kilometres inland are the Botanic Gardens and the Tallinn TV Tower.

Music culture[edit]

Tallinn has a few music venues for live music such as Kultuurikatel/Kanala, Ptarmigan, Tapper, EKKM – Museum and nightlife, DM Baar. Yearly festivals like Tallinn Music Week and Stalker Festival take place.

Transport[edit]

A CAF tram operating in Tallinn

City transport[edit]

The city operates a system of bus (64 lines), tram (4 lines) and trolley-bus (5 lines) routes to all districts. A flat-fare system is used. The ticket-system is based on prepaid RFID cards available in kiosks and post offices. Starting from January 2013 public transport for citizens registered to live in Tallinn is completely free. That includes buses, trams and trolleybuses, and also the rail services within city limits.

Air[edit]

The Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport is about 4 kilometres (2 miles) from Town Hall square (Raekoja plats). There is a local bus connection between the airport and the edge of the city centre (bus no. 2). The nearest railway station Ülemiste is only 1.5 km (0.9 mi) from the airport.

The construction of the new section of the airport began in 2007 and was finished in summer 2008.

There has been a helicopter service to and from Helsinki operated by Copterline and taking 18 minutes to cross the Gulf of Finland. The Copterline Tallinn terminal is located adjacent to Linnahall, five minutes from the city center. After a crash near Tallinn in August 2005, service was suspended but restarted in 2008 with a new fleet.[85] The operator cancelled it again in December 2008,[86] on grounds of unprofitability. On 15 February 2010, Copterline filed for bankruptcy, citing inability to keep the company profitable. In 2011 Copterline started again operating the Tallinn-Helsinki flights.

Ferry[edit]

The port of Tallinn is one of the biggest and busiest cruise and passenger harbours in the Baltic Sea region.

Several ferry operators, Viking Line, Linda Line Express, Tallink and Eckerö Line, connect Tallinn to Helsinki, Mariehamn, Stockholm, and St. Petersburg. Passenger lines connect Tallinn to Helsinki (83 km (52 mi) north of Tallinn) in approximately 2–3.5 hours by cruiseferries.
Finland Helsinki, Finland
Åland Islands Mariehamn, Åland
Sweden Stockholm, Sweden
Russia St. Petersburg, Russia

Railroad[edit]

The Elron railway company operates train services from Tallinn to Tartu, Valga, Türi, Viljandi, Tapa, Narva, Orava, Koidula and Pärnu. Buses are also available to all these and various other destinations in Estonia, as well as to Saint Petersburg in Russia and Riga, Latvia. The Go Rail company operates a daily international sleeper train service between Tallinn-Moscow.

Tallinn also has a commuter rail service running from Tallinn's main rail station in two main directions: east (Aegviidu) and to several western destinations (Pääsküla, Keila, Riisipere, Paldiski, and Kloogaranna). These are electrified lines and are used by the Elron railroad company. Stadler FLIRT EMU and DMU units are in service since July 2013. The first electrified train service in Tallinn was opened in 1924 from Tallinn to Pääsküla, a distance of 11.2 km (7.0 mi).

The Rail Baltica project, which will link Tallinn with Warsaw via Latvia and Lithuania, will connect Tallinn with the rest of the European rail network. A tunnel has been proposed between Tallinn and Helsinki, though it remains at a planning phase.

The Via Baltica motorway (part of European route E67 from Helsinki to Prague) connects Tallinn to the Lithuanian/Polish border through Latvia.

Frequent and affordable long-distance bus routes connect Tallinn with other parts of Estonia.

On 9 October 2013, the 320-meter-long Ülemiste tunnel was first opened.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Tallinn participates in international town twinning schemes to foster good international relations. Partners include:

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]