Tallinn Tales (July 14th, 2011)

July 14th, 2011
We visited Tallinn, Estonia today. Tallinn mailed me a really nice map and booklet that I had in hand before we started on our adventure.

We saw the Estonian version of graffiti pretty early on in the trip.

We also got a great view of a hip Estonian car.
Hipster, eh?
We took the 10 minute walk to Old Town to the Great Coastal Gate and Fat Margaret's Tower. Fat Margaret was built from 1511 to 1530 to protect Tallinn from attacks by sea.

While walking, we ran across a very interesting garden that allowed a neat photo stop.

From left to right:  Lisa, Brad, Ellen, Chris, Terri, Kristy, and Kris
We passed by St. Olav's church for a photo opportunity.

Next up was the Horse Mill. Back in the 14th - 18th centuries, this horse mill was used as a horse driven flour mill. Now it is a museum.

We also saw what used to be the old KGB Headquarters. This was, at one point, one of the most feared places in the city. It was here that interrogations were carried out on anyone refusing to comply with the Russian state system. The windows are bricked at the basement level so nobody could see or hear what was going on inside (including murder).

Note the bricked up windows at the bottom?

The only way you would know what this building was these days is to understand the Estonian words on a plaque on the face of the building. It says, "This building housed the headquarters of the organ of the Soviet occupational power. Here began the road to suffering for thousands of Estonians."

This building housed the headquarters of the organ of the Soviet occupational power. Here began the road to suffering for thousands of Estonians.

Tallinn is still largely surrounded by walls. We visited several viewing platforms and towers including the Nunna, Sauna, and Kulajada Towers.

We walked to the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin (but the ladies weren't allowed to go in since they didn't have their hair covered). We also saw the outside of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. (Looks really neat on the outside but also didn't allow entrance due to the head cover.) It was built in 1885 (during Russia's rule), so Estonians don't care for the building and tried to tear it down in 1924.

A pink building is across from the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. This was the Toompea Castle and was building in 1918. It still houses Parliament.

We went to several of the viewing platforms, but Patkuli had the best view.

View from Patkuli Platform
Along the way we saw many people dressed up and dozens of street performers.

We found a wheelchair ramp, though I doubt it is very effective...
Ramp leads into doll and door.
Great sign to the Puppet Theatre
We saw some archery lessons near the Danish King's Garden. We also saw Maiden's Tower (prison for medieval prostitutes), and Kiek in de Kok. We actually paid extra to tour the tower.

Legend has it that back in the middle ages, superstitious Estonians would throw sacrifices down a well dubbed "Cat's Well" to appease the gods of urban water maintenance. Even once in a while, someone would throw an entire cow down the well. Mostly, however, it was a live cat they would sacrifice...hence the name Cat's Well. The cat below now protects the well.

Cat rubbing Cat's Well

Cat's Well

We got a quick glance of Tall Hermann's Tower before moving on toward Freedom Square.

The most popular entry and exit area of Old Town, the Viru Gates, was our next destination. On the way, we saw an old lady feeding the birds in a park. I had a Mary Poppins moment.
Can't you just hear the song in your head..."Feed the birds, tuppence a bag..."

Walking further, we hit St. Catherine's Passage and the Master's Courtyard. In the passage, we saw the outside to an old Dominican Monastery. (It is now a museum.)

Part of a tombstone from the monastery.
Next up were the old Guild Halls. Starting in the 14th Century, much of the life in Talinn was controlled by powerful merchant and craft guilds (associations that regulated trade and had a role in local politics).

We saw the House of the Brotherhood of Black Heads who organized defenses and spring festivals. The building dates to 1597 with the famous door added in 1640. The Great Guild Hall was built in 1410 and was the guild of married German merchants who controlled the Town Council. The Kanut Guild Hall was built in 1863-64, and St. Olav's was finished in 1919.

Lisa, Brad, Ellen, and Chris decided to shop while Kris, Terri, and I went to the Tallinn photograph museum (which used to be a church).  Kris was the only one allowed to take photos.

We headed to Town Hall Square and met up with Carol and Clark for a candlelit meal at Olde Hansa. Terri even tried some Schnapps.

Fine almond chicken of mild taste from Olde Hansa - I could only eat the bean pastry.
Our waiter decided to have a sit on the stairs instead of checking on us or bringing us our bill. After about five minutes, Carol set him straight.
Our waiter sitting on the stairs
Olde Hansa decor
After lunch, Kris, Terri, and I went to the Old Pharmacy. The had some old jars of toad, sun-bleached dog feces, assorted fragments, horse hooves, and more.

We headed back to the Tallinn cruise dock and got 15 minutes or so of free wifi before going back to the boat.

Tallinn was a nice town with English accommodations. I likely would never have visited if it weren't for the cruise, but I very much enjoyed it.

To be continued...

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1 Response
  1. Kris Says:

    Awesome. I can't wait to read about all the other stuff I've done this last week!