A wall two kilometers long surrounds one of the most beautiful and best cared for and preserved medieval treasures in Europewhich forms the network of streets and walls of the historic center of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. A summer getaway to this medieval jewel on the shores of the Baltic Sea, declared World Heritage, It is especially rewarding as it provides an exciting mix of old and new, of culture and versatility, of history, tradition and creativity, of gastronomy and ecology.

A summer getaway to this medieval Baltic gem provides an exciting mix of history, tradition, creativity, gastronomy and ecology

As soon as you begin to explore the historic center of beautiful Tallinn from bottom to top, there is an essential first visit to the Maiasmokk cafeteria, the oldest in Estonia (it was founded in 1864) and whose name, translated into Spanish, means “Greedy”. Here you can taste, in addition to a good coffee, two of the iconic sweets of the city and the country: Kalez chocolatesbaptized with the name of the national hero, and marzipan figurines that are made here in an artisanal way. I reached the back of the cafeteria, to the marzipan workshop, to contemplate the care with which the veteran craftswoman Külli Mihkla decorate each of these figurines, of very important meaning for Estonians. A figurine that a young man gave to his fiancée in 1936 occupies a place of honor in the workshop’s exhibition.

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Tallinn Town Hall Square.
Tallinn Town Hall Square.

“The lame city”

After this visit, the tour through the heart of Tallinn has two axes or paths up and down: Long Street or Pikk and Short Street or Lühike. From the disparity in length of these arteries comes the affectionate nickname with which locals define the center of their capital: “the lame city.” The steps will inevitably lead in either direction to the Town Hall Squarewhere its main attraction is not the building that houses the town hall but a small pharmacy located on one of the corners, national pride for being considered the oldest open pharmacy in Europe, whose opening dates back to the year 1422.

Tallinn Town Hall Square is home to what is considered the oldest open pharmacy in Europe

The objective is to reach it by walking, observing every corner and detail, evoking stories and legends (there are many about ghosts that wander at certain hours), the highest point of Toompea Hill, apex of the medieval enclosure. Here are the castle and the cathedrals of Alexander Nevski, from 1900, and of Santa María. From its viewpoints there are the best views of the city and the bay. Then, walking downhill, there is the small square of the black friars, somewhat disturbing figures that flank the danish king’s gardena place where it is stated that the Danish flag that legitimized Scandinavian rule over this city from the year 1219 to 1346 came down from the sky. In fact, the name of Tallinn means “the Danish city”.

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View of Long Street (Pikk) in the old town of Tallinn.
View of Long Street (Pikk) in the old town of Tallinn.

The Soviet hotel

On Toompea Hill is also the medieval church of Saint Nicholas, today restored and converted into the Niguliste museum, where one of the works of art most appreciated by locals is kept, the impressive “The dance of death”, a macabre old painting that influences many of the graffiti that you can later see in other parts of the city. In this church it is highly recommended to go to the top of its tower (there is a modern elevator) to get the best 360 views of the city. The unique white building that you will see from there will catch your attention because it stands out from the others; Its about Viru hotel, built in Soviet times by the USSR and which today houses the KGB Museum. The locals refer to this establishment as the “micro-hotel”, obviously not because of its size but because of the number of microphones that were installed in its rooms.

Locals refer to the former KGB hotel as the “micro-hotel” because of the number of microphones that were installed in its premises.

The Viru Gatethe main access to the lower part of the medieval city, the one that is best preserved and the most photographed, should be the next objective if it was not used as access door to the medieval town. The combination of this entrance flanked by two towers with the flower market next to it forms a perfect postcard. Another very photographed tower is the one called “Margarita La Gorda”for being the most voluminous of all.

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Fotografiska building in the bohemian Telliskivi neighborhood.
Fotografiska building in the bohemian Telliskivi neighborhood.

Bohemian Tallinn

Outside the historic center, lovers of the avant-garde, bohemian and alternative have an appointment in the creative district of Telliskivilocated in a former industrial complex on the borders of the old city and the Pelgulinna and Kalamaja neighborhoods, the latter famous for its brightly colored wooden houses. In Telliskivi the Fotografiska museum It is one of the icons of this neighborhood, with a good restaurant with a terrace on its upper floor. Another interesting walk runs through the Noblessner maritime area, in the northern district, next to the Baltic marina. Since 2013 this former industrial area has been converted into a cultural and residential area housing a museum, arts centre, craft brewery, marina, promenade and cafes and restaurants.

Outside the historic center, lovers of the avant-garde, bohemian and alternative have an appointment in the creative district of Telliskivi

In the evening Tallinn exhibits another breath of vitality that gives off a very lively atmosphere. Gin lovers have their place in the Junimperium bar and distillery, in the Telliskivi area. Estonian gin is highly appreciated as this is a country rich in juniper. It is also in wood, its main source of wealth, which can be seen in Tallinn in the large number of wooden houses that decorate the city: no less than 45 percent of the total are built with this material. Many are protected buildings, such as those mentioned in the Kalamaja neighborhood. Those who prefer beer should look for the Hell Hunt pub, the oldest in Estonia, with a young atmosphere and an extensive beer list.

Nunne boutique hotel, at the entrance to the historic center of Tallinn.
Nunne boutique hotel, at the entrance to the historic center of Tallinn.

Sleep, eat and relax

He Nunne boutique hotel, Located at the entrance to the historic center of Tallinn, it is a very good option. It is attached to the wall, which can be seen on some of its walls, and its rooms are modern and comfortable. For dinner in the old town, Restoran 38 It is somewhat expensive, but of assured quality. If you prefer something more authentic, in the port area called Noblessner there is Lore Bistro, with a more casual and original atmosphere. And if you fancy an interactive sauna experience, in this same area is the Igluparkwith originals igloo saunas where to combine treatments and relaxation. David Beckham He bought one of these saunas for his home.

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Finnair crew in a vintage image.
Finnair crew in a vintage image.

How to get there and get around

The airline Finnair recently celebrated the centenary of its first flightwho made the journey between Helsinki and Tallinn. Currently, the Finnish company operates direct flights from several Spanish capitals to Helsinki airport, from where it can connect perfectly with the capital of Estonia in a short flight.

Spaniards visiting Tallinn can consult the website tasteandfeelestonia.com where will they find private tours in Spanish that combine urban visits with outings to nearby nature, such as Jägala waterfall, the largest natural waterfall in the country, or the Lahemaa National Park, the first to be declared as such in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

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