Saturday, August 13, Tallin, Estonia – drizzly, cloudy day
We didn’t book any tours today, since it was only a short walk from any of the places where the ship may have been docked into the town of Tallinn. No schedule (except to get back to the ship before it sails), no guide, just fun goofing around with my clown travel partners. We have the photos to prove it!
Tallin consists of a storybook cute old town, with a powerful technology industry (Skype was born here) that looms behind it. This ancient city has quit a history, which I knew little of. There was a settlement there in the 2nd millennium BC! As a prosperous trading post, important for the trade between Russian and Scandinavia, it was a desirable conquest and suffered a bloody history.
Time for a HISTORY LESSON taken from Tallinn24.info http://tallinn24.info/tallinn_history.html
“In 1154 Tallinn was marked on the world map of the Arab cartographer al-Idrisi.
As an important port for trade between Russia and Scandinavia, it became a target for the expansion of the Teutonic Knights and Kingdom of Denmark during the period of Northern Crusades in the beginning of the 13th century when Christianity was forcibly imposed on the local population. Danish rule of Tallinn and Northern Estonia started in 1219.
In 1285 the city became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Tallinn along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Order in 1345. Medieval Tallinn enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. The city, with a population of 8,000, was very well fortified with city walls and 66 defence towers.
With the start of the Protestant Reformation the German influence became even stronger. In 1561 Tallinn politically became a dominion of Sweden.
During the Great Northern War the Swedish troops based in Tallinn capitulated to Imperial Russia in 1710, but the local Baltic German rulers retained their cultural and economical autonomy within Tsarist Russia. The 19th century brought industrialization of the city and the port kept its importance. During the last decades of the century Russification pressure became stronger.”
On 24 February 1918 the Independence Manifesto was proclaimed in Tallinn, followed by German occupation and a war of independence with Russia. On 2 February 1920 the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed with Soviet Russia, wherein Russia acknowledged the independence of the Estonian Republic. Tallinn became the capital of the independent Estonia. After World War II started Estonia was annexed by the USSR as a result of coup with help of the Red Army in 1940-41, and later invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941-44. After Nazi retreat in 1944, it was occupied by the USSR again. After the annexion into the Soviet Union, Tallinn became the capital of the Estonian SSR.
During the 1980 Summer Olympics a regatta was held at Pirita, north-east of central Tallinn. Many buildings, like the hotel “Olumpia”, the new Main Post Office building, and the Regatta Center, were built for the Olympics.
In August 1991 an independent democratic Estonian state was re-established and a period of quick development to a modern European capital ensued. Tallinn became de-facto capital of a independent country once again on August 20, 1991.”
We got an early start on our explorations, walking on cobblestones up windy medieval streets, passing Fat Margaret Tower, shops that featured marzipan figurines or precious models of the medieval buildings toward Old Town Square. We were little kids out for recess, just playing with the magic of the place. At one point, beer and food entered our day 😀. Kathryn had a smokey brew that was almost up drinkable to me, Jon and Barry had lighter bears and I tried cider, all local. We got a funky taster plate in a very cool little tavern: I didn’t get a photo, but found one online of a dish of fried dark bread with garlic sauce. http://hallie84.blogspot.no/2012/03/eating-in-tallinn-estonia-part-4-lunch.html
We bought some things at part of the city wall where sweated and woolens are sold. J&K went off on their own as did we. After more exhausting (not really, tee-hee) wondering, Barry and I went to Maiasmokk http://www.kohvikmaiasmokk.ee/en/ . It’s an old world bakery with an enchanting ambience. We sampled a pastry that was just ok, but I really filled up on the charm.
We had a fun, relaxing day in Tallinn!