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"Hansa City" Old Town - Historical Centre Tip by TheWanderingCamel

Old Town - Historical Centre, Tallinn: 55 reviews and 160 photos

  The heart of the city
by TheWanderingCamel

Tallinn's mediaeval Old Town dates back to the city's days as a member of the Hanseatic League - a Hansa was a company of merchants trading with foreign lands and the league was a group of German and Baltic cities that formed a mercantile union to promote their mutual security and to ensure exclusive trading rights. After joining the league in 1285, the little town on the southern shores of the Baltic began to build the stout walls and defensive towers that still remain today, ringing the most intact mediaeval city in Europe. This is the All-Lin -the lower town. High above the lanes and crowded houses of the Old City stands Toopea - where the ruling powers (and Tallinn has been ruled by several foreign powers in its time) established their grand houses and government buildings. These two parts of the city have been joined by a third, Kesklinn - mostly 20th century, the commercial hub where banks and hotels mix with shops and theatres.

From here the city spreads out - to the harbour, where in summer the cruise ships and ferries tie up and disgorge the thousands of tourists and visitors from Finland who flood into the Old Town to stock up on handicrafts and amber - or cheap booze - depending on where they've come from; to Kadriorg with its beautiful parks, palaces and the sports stadium that saw the remarkable phenomonen of thousands of Estonians gathering to sing themselves to freedom; and to the vast areas of Soviet--era housing estates of tower blocks which are the the reality of daily living for more than a third of the city's population. Few tourists venture here though, and so the image of Tallinn's quaint mediaeval heart and the elegant buildings of Toompea is the one that has earned the city the soubriquet of "the new Prague".

Panorama photo -click for full image

Address: Vanalinn, Tallinn
Phone: +372 5807 4704

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Nov 17, 2005
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