Tallinn is a unique mix of the very old and of the very modern. The city woke up from a more than fifty yearlong sleep behind the iron curtain to its birth of independence on the 20 of August 1991. Since then the city has grown in a tasteful and modest way. There are a lot of historical buildings to explore as well as beautiful parks and sights. A lot of interesting buildings remain from the Tsarist period in the exiting Tallinn history.
Tallinn has historically consisted of three parts, and it can be useful to keep this distinction in mind while visiting the town.
The historic centre area is now divided in so called Lower Town (with the Town Hall – Raekoja plats – and the landmark of Tallinn – the sky high St. Olaf´s Church) the and The Upper Town with Toompea Castle and Tall Hermann’s Tower.
The Toompea (Domeberg), called also “Cathedral Hill” became the seat of the central authorities: first the Danish captains, then the komturs of the Teutonic Order, later Swedish and Russian governors. Until 1877 Toompea was a separate town (Dom zu Reval), the residence of the aristocracy; and today it is the seat of the Estonian government, as well as many embassies and residencies. The mayor tourist attractions of this part of town are the Castle (Castrum Danorum), along with two cathedrals – one Orthodox and one Lutheran.
The Old Town, which is the old Hanseatic town, had its own, separate from Cathedral Hill, administration until the late 19th century. It was an important centre of the medieval trade in this part of Europe, on which it grew prosperous. The Town Hall – Raekoja plats – and the landmark of Tallinn – the sky high St. Olaf´s Church, along with the towers and town walls, are among most popular tourist attractions there.
Ethnic Estonians replaced the local Baltic Germans as the majority amongst the residents of Tallinn first approximately in the middle of the 19th century. Estonians settled south of the Old Town.
In Kadriorg, about 2km east of the centre, there is another – besides the Nevsky Cathedral and St.Nicholas’ Orthodox Church – remnant of the tsarist Russia that ruled Tallinn during two centuries. The summer residence of tsar Peter the Great, a magnificent, extravagant palace, is a very good example of the northern Baroque. Today it houses a part of the museum of modern art.