January 14, 2013
Tallinn, Estonia. What a crazy little place. At least in the Old Town. It has been around since 1154 and little has changed since then. Narrow streets, cobblestone roads, ancient looking buildings. There are very few cars in the Old Town. Mostly because you don’t really need them and second, because they won’t fit down most streets.
The tall building in the center there is the Tallinn Town Hall and it is the only remaining gothic style town hall still standing in all of Northern Europe. It was built in 1322 and is currently used as a museum.
We started our tour by Toompea Castle which is believed to have been built on the hill in either the 10th or 11th century by residents of the ancient Estonian county of Rävala. At some point in the early 1200’s, can’t remember, it was taken over by the Danes…some battle. Yeah that part gets fuzzy. And now the not totally ancient part of the building is where parliament meets. This is Tallinn’s parliament building. Isn’t it so pretty and pink?? The sad thing is that this is built right across from the Nevsky Cathedral – see two photos down – which was done on purpose to symbolize Russian dominance over internal Estonian affairs (particularly during the Soviet era). Anyway, back to the pink! If you notice in Russia and Estonia and some of the other Baltic countries, all of their buildings are these gorgeous colors. They literally do it because they spend about 300 days a year in pouring down rain or snow or sleet or ice.
This is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It was build during a period of Russification and was so disliked by many Estonians as a symbol of oppression that the Estonian authorities were doing to demolish it in 1924 but that ended up not happening because they didn’t have enough money to do that and because it took forever to build. Inside is filled with tons of little old ladies who hate tourists and are just trying to go to church. Can’t blame them, but jeez are they feisty!
It was around this cathedral and parliament that the Singing Revolution started. Estonia is a relatively small country with a small population and really crappy neighbors ie the Scandinavians, Germans and Russians, all of whom have claimed Estonia as their own. There was a short-lived period between WWI and WWII where Estonia was owned by Estonia, but then in 1945 Estonia found itself under rule of the USSR. Despite resistance, some of it armed, Soviet rule continued for nearly half a century, before a unique movement helped. That movement was the Estonian Singing Revolution. The Revolution started in the summer of 1987, when protests by the Estonian people began against Russian occupation of their country. In the June evenings of that year over 10,000 people a night packed the area, where they sang patriotic and national songs forbidden by USSR. These gatherings helped unite the Estonian people and ignited a renewed wave of passion for their national identity, furthering the country’s desire for freedom. In September of 1988, 300,000 Estonians gathered to continue their protest and to hear Trivimi Velliste make the first public demand for independence. I got goosebumps when I listened to Stans tell this story. Reminded me of Les Mis. Sadly it wasn’t until 1991 that they finally got their independence again. I gotta root for the little guy!! So happy for Estonia!!
The view was awesome from this little perch in the medieval part of town.
Stans told a crazy story about cats falling down this well that I won’t repeat here.
Smallest window in the world!
It rained sooooo much.
Seriously, it rained everyday in the Baltics. Frank didn’t bring his rain jacket this day for some reason and despite the fact that our guide, Stans, showed him multiple places to purchase a poncho or an umbrella, he didn’t do it for whatever Frankie G reason. Stans truly believes that the bravest people in the world come from the Washington DC area…. I think it is more like the most hard headed people come from DC.
From the boat!
on any of these fine social media platforms…
I’m based in Maryland, DC and Northern VA but don’t worry, I LOVE to travel.
I love me a new passport stamp.