Estonia, part one: Tallinn

Estonia, part one: Tallinn

One week have passed in beautiful Estonia, in which I have explored the multi-faceted capital, Tallinn. A city buzzing with life and with cheap public transportation, consisting of tramways, busses and so-called trolley-busses.

With a vast “Old Town” from the middle ages and a popular cruise ship terminal, Tallinn sees a surprising number of tourists. Tallinn Old Town is one of Europes best conserved medieval towns, making it a UNESCO world heritage site.

Tallinn boasts a lot of beautiful buildings, especially the churches. The Sct. Nicholas church from the photos above, probably built around the 14th or 15th century, has survived wars, fires and bombings. The church stands beautifully restored, and offers free organ concerts, one of which I attended and enjoyed.

Another famous church, as well as the parliament across from it, can be seen below.

The Danish flag, Dannebrog

Every child in Denmark is told the story. Under King Valdemar, Danmark sent 1500 ships into war with Estonia to enforce Christianity and put Estonia under Danish rule. Everything seemed to go as planned until one peaceful Saturday night in 1219, the puny Estonians made a surprise attack during dinner! The only half-completed Danish castle was attacked from five sides and things looked grim for the Danes. But that’s where the legend tells of the flag that fell from the sky, encouraging the Danes to win the battle. The flag that fell from the sky was taken back to Denmark and remains our flag till today, even though it was actually just the weapon shield of Estonia rotated 90 degrees.

The Danish King’s Garden in Tallinn is no special attraction, but with respect for my Danish origin I had to check it out. Thanks to restorations paid by Danish funds, the Danish King’s Garden stands beautiful with parts of the old wall still standing. There are also tales of ghastly activity, hence the spooky sculptures below.

Can you actually live in Tallinn?

Before going to Estonia myself, I didn’t know much about Estonia, so to all of you who don’t know much about this country, I have made a report of the life here. Things are looking bad, there are broken iPhones, super markets can hardly sell you five potatoes and the busses are held in place with wires to keep them from getting too creative (hence, trolley-busses).

 

Don’t worry, I managed to find some food after all. Kidding aside, there are stocked supermarkets and if you don’t drop your iPhone it’s not going to break. The trolley busses are actually very good for the environment, although they are actually a legacy from soviet times. Basically they are electric busses without a battery, but they are quite common. Tallinn is a great city and you even see a lot of cool cars around here. And even though you find yourself walking around in a medieval city, Tallinn is actually one of the worlds top 10 digital cities.

Don’t get me wrong, even though I see great growth and development in Estonia, the minimum wage isn’t much more that €2 EUR, but a store clerk typically makes €5 EUR hourly or more. Just 25 years ago, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union, so with that perspective there is definitely a lot more growth to come.

If you’re looking for a trip to an interesting city, where money goes a long way, or maybe looking to invest in property, then go to Tallinn!

Freedom and singing

The Estonians have some strong traditions when it comes to singing and dancing. Especially during Soviet times, the Estonians found strength together by protesting through songs. Every 5 years for the past 150 years, the gigantic amphitheater in Tallinn is the stage of an incredible 30,000 Estonians who sing for  80,000 spectators.

If you’re interested, take a look at the YouTube video below that explains about this incredible tradition. I will certainly be looking to make the next great song festival in Estonia. One celebration that I did make during my stay was the 25th anniversary of Estonian independence from the Soviet Union on the 20th of August.

The celebrations took place all around Estonia, but especially Tallin’s Freedom Square, with it’s monument specially dedicated to the independence of Estonian. In true Estonian tradition, a lot of folk music was sung by numerous choirs, and later Micheal Monroe made an appearance by to spice things up.

Next stop?

While I would love to spend more time in this dynamic city, I have moved on to the idyllic village of Haapsalu. The next blog post will be soon, as I am moving further south to some of the Estonias other popular cities, Pärnu and Tartu.

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