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Game of Thrones and the Seven Kingdoms in Tallinn

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By Noora Karppi  •  05.04.2019

Game of Thrones is without a doubt one of the biggest television series of our time. By combining fantasy with drama, and surprising the viewers with plot twists and sudden deaths of the main characters, the show keeps breaking viewer numbers episode after episode. The story is set in an imaginary universe, but what if it took place in Tallinn instead of Westeros?

Tallinn is a city with a long and colourful history and has had its share of summers and winters. The real-life game of thrones has swept through Tallinn several times as the Danes, Swedes, Germans and Russians have fought over the city. The atmosphere in some parts of the Estonian capital reminds many people of the Game of Thrones. You can sense it while walking the narrow medieval streets, in the old taverns where the only source of light comes from candles, or when you have a rest under a hundred-year-old tree that spreads its leafy branches over you, or by the bay, watching the storm beating the sea along the shore.

Tallinn is actually quite like Westeros, only smaller in size. We have our own King’s Landing, Winterfell, and Casterly Rock. Each of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros matches the seven different areas of Tallinn. 

This is the Game of Thrones - if the story were set in Tallinn.

The Crownlands and King’s Landing – Old Town and Toompea

„Growing up at Winterfell, all I ever wanted was to escape, to come here, to the capital. To see the southern knights and their painted armour, King’s Landing after dark, all the candles burning in all those windows.” – Sansa Stark

The ruler of the Seven Kingdoms sits on the Iron Throne in King’s Landing. King’s Landing is the royal capital of Westeros, surrounded by the Crownlands. It is the centre of the game and one of the most dangerous places in the universe of Game of Thrones. King’s Landing is also the place where most of the political plotting and backstabbing happens. The religious centre of Westeros, the Great Sept of Baelor, is located in King’s Landing.

Much like King’s Landing, the Old Town is filled with narrow streets, gates and towers. It has been the centre of Tallinn for as long as the city has stood. On the limestone hill stands Toompea Castle, which has always been the seat of power in Estonia. Today it is the home of the parliament. Nearby are two main churches in Estonia; St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Estonia’s main Russian Orthodox cathedral, is close to the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin, the seat of the Archbishop of Tallinn.

Just like from King’s Landing, the view from Toompea is magnificent, and over the red rooftops shines the shimmering sea.

Kingdom of the North – Nõmme

„Let the south have its sun, flowers and affectations, we Northerners have home.” – Jon Snow

The North is a large area in the northern part of Westeros, taking up almost half of the whole continent. The kingdom is ruled by House Stark of Winterfell. The North is sparsely populated and stands between the army of White Walkers and the rest of the Westeros. The people are brave soldiers and act honourably. They don’t have lush fields or gold, but they can cope well in the winter.

In Tallinn, Nõmme (moor in English) is the equivalent of the Kingdom of the North, even though geographically it is in Tallinn’s south. The nature of the surroundings and the people of Nõmme is something like the North and Northerners have. Before being annexed to Tallinn, Nõmme was a town of its own. It was founded by a popular and wealthy man, Nikolai von Glehn, and even though Nõmme lies on the south border of Tallinn, for von Glehn it was in the north – he established the Nõmme settlement in the northern part of his land.

Nõmme has its very own Winterfell, the Glehn Castle. The castle stands in the middle of Nõmme Forest. 

Kingdom of the Mountain and the Vale – Kadriorg

„No army in the Seven Kingdoms can match the pride and chivalry of the Knights of the Vale. After all, they were the first true knights in Westeros.” – Petyr Baelish

The Vale is ruled by the House of Arryn of the Eyrie near the coast of Westeros. Eyrie is a relatively small castle, but hard to reach, as it has been built on top of a mountain. Below Eyrie lies the Vale, where the soil is rich and black. The Vale has a natural advantage as it is protected by the Mountains of the Moon. The Knights of the Vale are well known all over Westeros.

The name Kadriorg means the Vale of Catherine. On the east end of Kadriorg raises the Baltic Klint and on the north lies the coast of the Baltic Sea. It is one of the finest areas in Tallinn with a large park, palaces and museums. One of the palaces belongs to the President of Estonia, the other one was established by Peter the Great in the 18th century.

Kumu Art Museum, located on the slope of the Baltic Klint, is one of the architectural masterpieces in Tallinn. It stands in perfect harmony with the surrounding nature, just like Eyrie.

Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers – City Centre and Aegna

„North of here the Kingsroad ran along the Green Fork of the Trident, through fertile valleys and green woodlands, past thriving towns and stout holdfasts and the castles of the river lords.” – Catelyn Tully

The Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers lasted only for a while before it was smashed to pieces. It was ruled by Harren Hoare of Harrenhal and consisted of the Riverlands and the Iron Islands.

The Riverlands is an area in the centre of Westeros. Riverlands has several towns and rivers running through its plains, forests and hills. Tallinn city centre has many things in common with the Riverlands. Besides its central location, it has a river running through it, you just can't see it anymore as it runs under the city. Härjapea river was once the main water source for people, mills and factories in Tallinn, and filled the moats of the Old Town with water. It was also a place to pray.

Located nearby the west coast of Westeros are the Iron Islands, the home of House Greyjoy. The Iron Islands are windy and damp islands, where people live and die by the sea. Tallinn is a city by the sea, so of course, it also has its very own Iron Island. Aegna, located just outside the Viimsi peninsula. People have lived on Aegna island since the Early Iron Age and is mostly known by its large (glacial erratic) boulders. Aegna has a military history, with the local sights including underground tunnels, a watchtower and a gun battery.

Kingdom of the Rock – Rocca al Mare

„Fools look at the Westerlands and see gold. Fools see our wealth and call it strength. Gold is just another rock. The Westerlands are strong because of House Lannister. From strong leadership comes unity; from unity comes power."  – Tywin Lannister

House Lannister rule the Westerlands, formerly known as Kingdom of Rock from Casterly Rock. The Westerlands are plentiful with lots of mines, metals, silver and gold. Casterly Rock, located on the rocky coast by the Sunset Sea, is one of the strongest castles in all of Westeros. People think Casterly Rock resembles a lion when it turns orange in the sunset. The lion is also the symbol of House Lannister.

Sitting at the western edge of Tallinn is the coastal Rocca al Mare district. Rocca al Mare is Italian and means Rock by the Sea. The name was given by a local baron, Arthur Girard de Soucanton, who established a summer manor in Rocca al Mare in the 19th century. 

In Rocca al Mare one can also run into a lion, that's probably a less dangerous encounter than a Lannister! The local lions live in Tallinn Zoo. 

Kingdom of the Stormlands – Kalamaja

"Even without the weather, we have more than earned our name in strife. The first Storm King, Durran, started his reign by declaring war on the gods themselves." – Brienne of Tarth

The Kingdom of Stormlands was ruled by the Storm Kings and afterwards by House Baratheon. Castle Storm's End overlooks the Shipbreaker Bay and has endured several storms and sieges. One of the longest sieges lasted for a year, during which Stannis Baratheon and his men were forced to eat rats when nothing else was left.

Kalamaja is a well-known hipster wonderland, but it is also the area where you can find one of the gloomiest sights in Tallinn. Patarei Sea Fortress was built in Kalamaja, by the sea, over 250 years ago. Patarei has a dark history, besides being a sea fortress it has also served as a prison under various regimes. 

Many people, not only criminals and smugglers but also heads of state, saw the waves of the Tallinn Bay between the bars as the last sight before losing their lives.

Kingdom of the Reach – Pirita

„You must see Highgarden. You'd love it there, I know you would. We have a great masquerade the night of the harvest moon... you should see the costumes, people work on them for months.” – Margaery Tyrell to Sansa Stark

House Gardener and House Tyrell have ruled the Kingdom of the Reach from Highgarden. Reach is considered wealthy and produces plenty of wine and food. One of the most important cities belongs to the Reach, the Oldtown, also known as the Citadel, home of the Maesters. In the Citadel one can find the tallest building in Westeros, the Hightower that can be seen far away from the sea.

Pirita is the lush, green area by the sea, where locals go to relax and enjoy the sun. The area hosts parks, woods, nature trails, and the longest beach in Tallinn. There is also Tallinn Botanic Garden with plenty of exotic plants, trees, and flowers to admire. Next to the garden is Tallinn TV Tower, with the tallest viewing platform in the whole of Northern-Europe. It is believed that when the sky is clear one can see all the way to the Finnish coast from the TV Tower. The magical woods of Pirita are perfect for romantic evening strolls.

Principality of Dorne – Viimsi

„Before the Seven Kingdoms, before the Iron Throne, there was Dorne.” – Ellaria Sand

Dorne and the Dornish people are culturally and ethnically different and more combative than the other people of Westeros. Dorne is located on a peninsula and has been able to maintain a semi-autonomous status among the kingdoms of Westeros. The area is ruled by House Martell of Sunspear and has the fewest inhabitants in Westeros.

Viimsi is a separate parish just outside the borders of the city of Tallinn. Viimsi starts behind Pirita and stretches along the Viimsi peninsula. The islands of Naissaar, Prangli and Aksi belong to Viimsi too. 

In Viimsi you can visit the Estonian War Museum, the Museum of Coastal Folk and Viimsi Open-Air Museum, which was built on a historic farm.