Tallinn is a small capital of one Baltic state located on the Baltic Sea Coast, however, it is very attractive for tourists. There has been preserved and kept in every possible way the atmosphere of a medieval Hanse town.
The city`s historical center is at the top of a limestone hill Toompea. It means «Dome`s Head» in Estonian as it was just there that the Dome Cathedral was built. The other name of this part of the city, which eventually become more wide-spread, is Vyshgorod or Upper Town.
After the city was captured by the Danes in 1219 they turned all buildings into fortresses. In 1227 the Danes were forced out by the Order of the Brothers of the Sword, or the Livonian Order, which were temporarily ousted by the Danes in ten years, and again returned there in 1347. The buildings of Toompea was constantly reconstructed and fortified.
Only in 16th century in the city there appeared common houses that you can see today. Great or Tall Hermann Tower was built in 14th century. Every day the national flag of Estonia is raised there. But Toompea Castle itself, which survived until nowadays, was built much later, in 18th century.
There are two viewing points in Vyshgorod from where you can admire the city. From one of them you can see the Old Town Hall beside Town Hall Square. A bit farther there located business center of Tallin, the district of skyscrapers, where concentrated the offices of the major Estonian and international companies and banks.
The other viewing point is facing the north of the city and the Baltic Sea. From there you can see beautiful cathedrals and towers of Lower City at the foot of Vyshgorod. Stenbock House is on the left side of this viewing point. It is the seat of the Government of Republic and Government Office of the Republic of Estonia.
The Cathedral of Alexander Nevskiy is also in Vyshgorod. It belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church and features characteristic onion-shaped domes. There also located one of the city`s oldest temples – the Church of St. Mary, also known as Dome Cathedral, which was consecrated in 1240. These churches, together with spires of Niguliste and Oleviste Kirkes, form the most beautiful panorama of Tallin, if you approach it from the sea.
Well-preserved walls crowned with a great number of towers are also one of the most curious sights of Tallin. All the towers have characteristic red roofs. Vyshgorod was fortified at the time of the city`s foundation, but the walls surrounding the Lower Town were erected by the order of Danish Queen Margaret in 1265.
By 16th century the fortification system of Tallin was one of the strongest in Northern Europe. The wall stretched for three kilometers and had 46 watch towers. Until our time there survived only 1.85 kilometers of the wall and 27 towers. The most picturesque towers are in Tornide Square, also known as Tower`s Square. And Kiek in de Kök is considered to be the most beautiful tower in Tallinn.
Cobbled road descending from Vyshgorod down to the Old Town Hall looks very authentic. It goes steeply along the tall city wall. You can get to Town Hall Square through Pika Jala, the gate tower of Tallinn. The square is faced by the facades of old houses and dominated by the two-floor building of Old Town Hall. This tall building was constructed in 1402-1404. The Old Thomas is atop the spire of Old Town Hall. This weather vane is one of the symbols and guard of Tallinn.
If you have enough time, you may visit the Kadriorg Palace and surrounding park. It is in the immediate vicinity of the Old Town. Russian tsar Peter the Great began to build the palace in 1718. For a long time the palace was a royal residence until it was converted into the Museum of Foreign Art. And in 1938, beside the Peter`s Kadriorg, there was constructed the New Palace, which was made the residence of the President of Estonia. The park occupies nearly 100 hectares, and is very beautiful. A part of the park was designed in the French style. There is also a Flower Garden, Swan`s Pond and many other things in the park.