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Tallinn, Estonia’s capital on the Baltic Sea, is the country’s cultural hub. It retains its walled, cobblestoned Old Town, home to cafes and shops, as well as Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. Its Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century and with a 64m-high tower, sits in historic Tallinn’s main square. St. Nicholas Church is a 13th-century landmark exhibiting ecclesiastical art.
This is number one in my list because of a special thing Estonians have going on with the black bread. “Respect the bread, it’s older than you”, is a common thing every Estonian hears from their grandparents while growing up. I believe it’s because of the extreme scarcity that the nation had to face during the many occupations so the older generations really learned to not take any food for granted.
Estonians love to pickle things. I think it’s because of the long winters in the old days that people had to find ways to preserve the vegetables and other foods. Readily available in all the supermarket delis, try some of the pickled breaded fish or schnitzel. Even better if you can meet someone local to visit – they will sure have some jars of pickled mushrooms or cucumbers straight from grandma’s cellar.
This one is a special summertime treat. Available in supermarkets but even more exotic if you make your way to “turg”, meaning outdoor market during the summertime. In both Tallinn and Tartu, the “turg” is located in the center of the city and walking distance from everything. There you find local little grandmas selling all the goods they grow in their gardens and fish that their men catch. The prices are always cheap and it doesn’t get more organic and locally grown than that.
Kadriorg Park is the most outstanding palatial and urban park in Estonia, covering around 70 hectares. Its construction began in 1718 on the orders of Russian tsar Peter I. Elements of park design from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries can be seen here. The most popular places for a stroll in the park are the flower beds surrounding the Swan Pond and the promenade leading from there to the president’s palace. There are a number of museums in the park, including KUMU (the Estonian Art Museum), Kadriorg Art Museum and the Mikkeli Museum, as well as monuments to such cultural figures as sculptor Amandus Adamson, author F. R. Kreutzwald and artist Jaan Koort.
The mysterious passages in Tallinn’s earthwork fortifications were built along with the bastions in the 17th and 18th centuries in order to conceal the movement of soldiers, ammunition and other equipment from the enemy. Tthey were also used to monitor the enemy’s underground mining activities. After the fortifications were removed from the list of military objects in 1857, parks were established on the Ingrian and Swedish bastions. In the bastion’s passages, a train to the future takes you to the year 2219, another one takes you back to the 17th century. Passages are only accessible with a guide; the size of the group is a maximum of 20 people. Tunnel leading to the passages is lined with columns introducing various calendars.
The Tallinn Television Tower in Pirita is the tallest building in Tallinn and Estonia with 314 metres. The TV Tower is a great tourist, culture and leisure centre. Waiting for you at the tower: a panoramic view from 170 metres, brasserie/restaurant and terrace on the 22nd floor; interactive multimedia solutions that introduce Estonia and Tallinn; view of the ground through the glass floor of the platform; futuristic interior milieu; attractions for children; mini TV studio, gift shop.