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UNESCO
UNESCO

UNESCO

Built up from the 13th to 16th centuries, when Tallinn – or Reval as it was known then – was a thriving member of the Hanseatic trade league, this enclosed neighbourhood of colourful, gabled houses, half-hidden courtyards and grandiose churches is, quite rightly, the city's biggest tourist draw. And the fact that it's all neatly packaged within a mostly-intact city wall and dotted with guard towers gives it an extra dose of fairytale charm. Tallinn's Old Town was entered on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1997 as an “exceptionally complete and well preserved example of a medieval northern European trading city”. Photo by: Allan Alajaan
Toompea Hill
Toompea Hill

Toompea Hill

Toompea Hill rises above the rest of Tallinn's Old Town, providing spectacular views. Legend claims that it is actually the burial mound of Estonia's mythical hero, Kalev. Tall Hermann's Tower on Toompea Castle is the highest spot in Old Town. The nation's flag is raised atop the tower each morning. Photo by: Allan Alajaan
Town Hall Square
Town Hall Square

Town Hall Square

There has been a town hall in Tallinn since at least 1322 and a town square next to it ever since. On one special place on Town Hall Square, a circular stone marks the only spot from which the tops of all five of the city's medieval spires are visible. Photo by: Toomas Volmer
Old Thomas
Old Thomas

Old Thomas

One of the most famous symbols of Tallinn is the Old Thomas weather vane that stands atop the Town Hall Tower. The figure of an old warrior was put on top of the spire in 1530. According to legend, the model for the figure was a popular town guard called Old Thomas. As a peasant boy, Thomas excelled at the springtime contests involving firing crossbow bolts at a painted wooden parrot on top of a pole – a challenge organised by and for Tallinn's Baltic German elite of the time. Unable to receive a prize because his low-born status, Thomas was rewarded with the job of town guard for life. Photo by: Kaarel Mikkin
Churches
Churches

Churches

There are more than 20 churches in Tallinn, most of them situated in the Old Town area. Catholic, Lutheran, Russian Orthodox – and more recently Jewish – houses of worship have played a central role in Tallinn's cultural life ever since German crusaders Christianised the country in the early 13th century. The medieval-built churches in particular were magnificent projects that drew the city's best artistic talent. Nowadays many of the city's churches are true architectural treasures and serve as regular concert venues. Photo by: Toomas Tuul
Dominican Monastery
Dominican Monastery

Dominican Monastery

The city's oldest existing building is its Dominican Monastery, which dates to 1246. The Monastery, once a place where various cultures mingled, is today a unique architectural monument. In summer, its courtyard operates as a museum, a quiet place for concerts and theatre plays. Photo by: Toomas Tuul
St Catherine´s Passage
St Catherine´s Passage

St Catherine´s Passage

One of Tallinn's most romantic spots is St. Catherine's Passage, an attractive little lane between Vene and Müürivahe streets where craftswomen create and sell stained glass, ceramics, jewellery, quilts, leather goods and hats. This complex of buildings was listed in the real estate registry as far back as 1366. Not far from here is the beautifully restored Masters´ Courtyard, where handicrafts, jewellery and chocolate confections are sold. Photo by: Toomas Tuul
Tallinn’s fortification system
Tallinn’s fortification system

Tallinn’s fortification system

Fortifications first appeared during the early development of the medieval city in the late 13th century. Constant additions and improvements meant that, by the 16th century, Tallinn boasted one of the most powerful and strongest defence systems in Northern Europe. In medieval times Tallinn's city gates were firmly shut each evening at 9 pm. Anyone wandering the streets after that hour without a good reason was taken to jail. Photo by: Toomas Tuul
Danish flag
Danish flag

Danish flag

Did you know that Denmark's national flag originated in Tallinn? According to legend, it floated down from the heavens during the Danes' battle to conquer Toompea Hill in 1219. This relaxing spot, where King Valdemar II and his troops supposedly camped before the battle, is now called the Danish King's Garden. Maiden's Tower, a part of the city wall bordering the garden, is open as a museum, exhibition hall and café. Photo by: Toomas Tuul
St. Olav´s Church
St. Olav´s Church

St. Olav´s Church

From 1549 to 1625 St. Olav's Church, with its 159-metre spire, was the tallest building in the world. The first known written records referring to the church date back to 1267. The tower has been hit by lightning around ten times, and the whole church has burned down three times throughout its known existence. Photo by: Toomas Tuul
Raeapteek
Raeapteek

Raeapteek

The Raeapteek on Town Hall Square is Europe's oldest continuously-operating pharmacy, open since at least as far back as 1422. In medieval times, it sold such useful items as mummy juice – powder from mummies mixed with liquid, burnt hedgehog powder, snakeskin potion and earthworms. More appetising items like candies, cookies and marzipan and jellied peel were also on sale. Today it operates as a museum and modern pharmacy. Photo by: Anu Vahtra
Christmas tree and Christmas market
Christmas tree and Christmas market

Christmas tree and Christmas market

For several weeks each winter Tallinn's Town Hall Square is filled with an elaborate Christmas Market where visitors can buy gifts, listen to concerts, meet Santa or drink hot, spiced wine. Records show that merchants from the Brotherhood of Black Heads guild installed a spruce on Town Hall Square in 1441, making it one of the first public Christmas trees in Europe. It's no wonder that people from all over the world come to see the market – it turns the city into a true fairytale scene. Even CNN has named the Tallinn Christmas Market one of the most beautiful markets in the world. Photo by: Sergei Zjuganov
The Church of the Holy Spirit
The Church of the Holy Spirit

The Church of the Holy Spirit

The Church of the Holy Spirit, just off Town Hall Square, is treasure-trove of medieval art and design. Among its most notable features is the finely carved clock on its facade. Made by Christian Ackermann in the 15th century, the clock is one of the most beloved landmarks of Tallinn. Photo by: Tavi Grepp

Old Town