Ilus Eesti, beautiful Estonia. My family's homeland. Estonia's countryside and people have an endearing gentleness about them which you fall in love with slowly and imperceptibly. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Estonians' courage and determination to survive despite centuries of repression, tyranny and foreign occupation. This blog showcases all the things I love about Estonia and seeks to enlighten readers about everything this unique country has to offer.
Monday, 13 July 2015
7 Free Things to Do in Tallinn
Tallinn is a city rich in history and architectural beauty, packed with delightful and enchanting places just waiting to be explored. There are so many fascinating museums in Tallinn catering for all tastes and interests, most of which require a nominal entrance fee. However, if you wish to spend a day without paying entrance fees so you have more to spend on keepsakes then you might want to consider these options.
1. Enjoy a walk along the city wall.
Tallinn's first fortress was built in 1050. At that time the city had a population of 8000 and was well fortified against invaders thanks to its 66 defence towers. Today 20 of those defence towers remain and have been preserved and 1.9 km of the city wall remains intact. On a nice sunny day, a walk along the city wall is a wonderful way to experience Tallinn and capture a glimpse of its history.
Estonians love their sugary almond based treats and have been making marzipan for centuries. For those with a sweet tooth, a trip to the Marzipan Gallery is a must. From the second you walk through the door you will be in awe of all the wonderful creations that are before you. You will be spoilt for choice with prices to suit all budgets and if you feel like getting creative yourself, you can make your own marzipan for 4€. This is a truly delightful shop but if you are not really into marzipan they also serve thick hot chocolate and waffles. Delicious! Downstairs is the free museum room where you get to see some real works of art. It's not to be missed!
3. The Museum of the Bank of Estonia (Eesti Panga Muuseum)
From the moment you step inside this building you will be in awe of its stunning art deco interior and spiral staircase. Located in the heart of the city, the building was completed in 1904 and formerly served as headquarters for a bank serving the country's nobility.
The Estonian bank museum showcases the history of money in Estonia with over 13,000 museum pieces on display. Wax figures of notable Estonians who have appeared on Estonian banknotes are located in the main exhibition room along with an interesting step-by.step process of how money is printed. Many interactive games, video clips and virtual exhibitions feature in the museum making it an excellent place to learn a bit about history and modern day practices.
The Raeapteek is the oldest pharmacy in Estonia and one of the oldest in Europe. It first opened its doors in the early 1400s and has been continuously operating as a pharmacy in the same premises ever since. Walking into the pharmacy is like stepping back in time. Beautiful, well-preserved interiors allow you to catch a glimpse of a bygone gone era and perhaps purchase some of the remedies used for centuries.
The Reapteek is easy to find, opposite Tallinn's Town Hall.
Hidden in a quiet picturesque courtyard, Estonian artists and master craftsmen can be seen practising trades of old. Here visitors can shop for handicrafts and jewellery, view art exhibitions, and sample the heavenly confections created in the popular Chocolaterie Café. Many wonderful treats are to be found here!
Kadriorg (Valley of Catherine) got its name from the wife of the Russian Tsar Peter the Great who conquered Estonia from the Swedes after the Great Northern War in the early 1700s. Peter established his summer palace here. Today Kadriorg and its beautiful park area is one of the most popular leisure and residential areas of Tallinn. It's a great place to go for a stroll on weekends, have a picnic or simply lay back and relax.
7. Song Festival Grounds
Every five years the largest song and dance festival in Estonia takes place here. Over 25,000 people participate and the grounds can accommodate up to 100,000 spectators. It's quite a spectacular sight to behold! When the song festival is not taking place, the area is used for concerts and other events and is also a lovely place to simply chill out.