This morning, the Regal Princess docked in Tallinn, Estonia. The capital city of Estonia was founded in 1154 A.D. and is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. In 1991, Estonia declared its independence from the Soviet Union.
Tallinn is located in Northern Europe in the northeastern part of the Baltic Sea region. The population is just over 430,000.
I took a tour that featured the Kadriorg Palace. Founded by Peter the Great, the palace’s main hall is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in all of Northern Europe. Since the Russian Revolution, the ornate palace rooms have been used as part of the Art Museum of Estonia. Some of the works are original, while others are copies of originals, either done by the masters, themselves, or by artists who closely studied and worked with the masters.
Following the palace visit, we drove to the Upper Town, home of some of Tallinn’s oldest architectural wonders, including the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The cathedral serves as the dominating landmark in Palace Square. I witnessed the cathedral’s cupolas and golden crosses rising above the rooftops, a fine example of Russian architecture and a precursor to our next port, St. Petersburg, Russia.
We visited two panoramic viewpoints that look out over the Lower Town. The Old Town is still surrounded by stone walls and towers, including Stout Margaret, one of Tallinn’s most impressive defensive structures. From above, one can take in impressive views of Tallinn’s red-gabled rooftops and copper church spires.
Situated high on a hilltop, Tallinn’s medieval walled Old Town is a maze of cobblestone streets with historic buildings and modern delights hidden around every turn. One of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Old Town Tallinn is known for its well-preserved gothic structures.
We also visited St. Mary’s Cathedral, simply called the “Dome Church” by locals. The cathedral is the city’s oldest church and played a prominent role in Tallinn’s history. A burial site for nobility since the 15th century, it contains elaborate tombs and more than 60 medieval coats of arms.
Tallinn is one of the Baltic’s great surprises. Though it has been influenced by the Teutonic, Polish, Russian and Soviet regimes that ruled it over the years, it has also retained many western traditions, such as the Latin alphabet and strong veins of Catholic and Protestant faiths. Tallinn has remained true to itself and developed into a unique and wonderfully photogenic city to explore.