Tallinn is a port city on the Gulf of Finland, the capital and largest city of the small Baltic country of Estonia. The city was built on a vantage point at the opening of the Gulf of Finland and over the years it has, due to its key port position, incited the attacks of Swedish, Danish, German and Russian armies – indeed the country was part of the USSR right up until its collapse in 1991. All three of the Baltic country capitals – the other two being Riga, the capital of Latvia, & Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania – boast a common attraction for the visitor, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town. They are all charming in their own way but Tallinn’s Old Town is probably the most charming of the three, especially when blanketed in winter snow, & exploring it on foot is the undoubted highlight of any trip to the city.
Tallinn’s Old Town is a beautifully restored 13th century medieval walled town dotted with soaring cathedral spires and sentry towers and linked by a labyrinth of winding cobblestone streets. The above picture, captured during a brief halt in blowing snow showers, is of the the north-western area of the Old Town as seen from a lookout in the Toompea district of the city, one that gives splendid views of the whole of the Old Town. The tall spire in the distance is the 124-metre-tall spire of Oleviste Church, the Old Town’s most prominent landmark & once the world’s tallest building. The 4 neighbouring round towers to the left of the church mark the longest accessible stretch of the lower town walls still standing. Blanketed in snow like this, Tallinn has the appearance of a fairy tale medieval settlement rather than a modern capital city. It’s a great place to just meander, even if it’s snowing.