Tallinn: A Medieval Journey
January 1, 1970
by Miss Cook
Walking into medieval times
Spend your time within the old town walls and go back to medieval times. When walking into Tallin, through it’s old old town walls, you truly feel like you are walking straight into the Middle Ages. There are a lot of small streets and alleys that look really magical. On the town square, there is a pharmacy which dates back from 1422. I believe that this pharmacy is still in the same family as it was back then. In here, you get to see what kind of medicine they have sold over time. The pharmacy is still in business but now selling present day medicine.
Also at this town square, there is a restaurant that is all about giving you the medieval experience. The bowls you get your soup in, the cups you drink your drink from, the clothing of the staff, it’s all in the medieval theme. If you would like to experience this while eating, make sure to visit Olde Hansa. When you sit somewhere and want to eat a small dish, be careful when ordering the garlic bread. It could be that this is not the garlic bread that you think it is. We made this mistake when we were there. It is some sort of deep-fried rye bread. This is also the case in Latvia and Lithuania. There is this really cute café where you can chill and read a book or just relax and listen to music. It’s in one of the town square’s side streets near the old pharmacy. You go down a few steps when you enter and they have nice furniture to chill on. You can choose from a lot of different flavours of tea if you’re into that, there also are a lot of chocolaty treats to choose from. The café is called KehrWieder. At some places in town, there are stands with people selling Estonian nuts. They have about three flavours to choose from. Personally, I really like them. They let you taste them before buying, so definitely do this when you come across one. I bought 3 packs and back home already regretted that I didn’t buy more than that.
What to do in Tallinn
Kiek in de Kök
Make sure to visit the Kiek in de Kök when you are in Tallinn. You can go on a tour through the underground Bastion tunnels that will take you further and further back in time. It will show you how people lived in the tunnels in different times. For instance during the Second World War and during the time of the hippies. Some people over time have said that parts of the tunnel are haunted and they have seen ghosts there. The tour-guide, however, said that she never encountered a ghost whenever she was there alone. The tour also has a trip to the future. This wasn’t really spectacular but it is part of the tour. It only last for a few minutes at the end and you just get to see a movie while sitting in some sort of a time machine. When we were there, they were working on a deeper part of the tunnel, which would take visitors even more back in time. Unfortunately, they said it would be finished in a few weeks, so we were a little bit too early with our visit too Tallinn.
Churches and Cathedrals
If you are interested in architecture or buildings like churches, there is this beautiful cathedral which looks like it was built with a lot of Russian influences. Then again, it is a Russian Orthodox Cathedral. It is called the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and definitely worth a visit. There also is a Dominican monastery that you can walk through near the St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral, unfortunately it was closed when we were there because of a wedding. Next morning, on our last day, we went back to see if we could go in now, but it was still closed.
The Little Blue Train
If you want to see the town without having to walk, there is a little blue train that drives around town. The old town of Tallinn is not that big, so you can definitely walk everything. I chose to not get into this train so I could just go wherever I wanted to when the train would go a different direction.
When you are looking for great views, there are two viewing platforms that both look over the city outside of the town walls as well
as the old town itself. For the ultimate panoramic view of the town, go to St. Olav’s Church. This church has a viewing platform. The old steps in the tower take you all the way to the top. There isn’t a lot of room to walk up on the platform, but the view is really nice. When you are on the side overlooking the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, you can see that part of the town is built higher than the rest. They call this part Toompea hill. It has had strategic purposes in times of war, as it was used as some sort of a fort. From Toompea hill, the rulers could overlook the rest of the town.
Old Town Wall
Parts of the old town wall are still intact and you can even walk over them to get great views of the town. If you go up on the town
wall near the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, you can even sit on top and have a drink in the cafe. At one other place up on the town wall, you can even go further up and have a beautiful view of part of the old town, where you can see four towers of churches and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral all at once.
Where to stay
Looking for a cheap place to stay in Tallinn? I stayed at Knight House in a single room. The toilets and showers were shared but there was never a queue. The kitchen is small but big enough for the time of year when I was there (around May) as there were not many other guests. It’s a really short walk to the town square from this hostel, the location could not have been better. All in all, this town is splendid and magical. If you are into architecture, history and culture you definitely need to visit Tallinn.