Terrific Tallinn, Estonia!!
by Teri E. Popp, Tastemaker in Residence
The first time I visited Tallinn, we spent 4 hours in the city and I felt totally cheated! I made sure our next visit included far more time for wandering through its ancient, cobblestone streets and breathtaking architecture.
This quaint city sits on the edge of the Gulf of Finland and serves as the capital of Estonia. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Old Town, in my opinion, is the best preserved medieval town that I have toured.
Humans appear to have inhabited this area for over 5,000 years; however, the first fortress was built ca. 1050 AD. While under Danish rule in 1265, construction of Tallinn's defenses began in earnest. By the 16th Century, the city's current wall was in place boasting an impressive 46 turrets. Since much of Tallinn was never bombed during any major war, 20 of those towers still stand along with a majority of the wall, meaning that visitors see the "real deal" when it comes to a major, medieval city! Parts of the wall are even open for climbing and touring.
And I don't know about you, but shopping is a major part of any trip for my girlfriends and me, especially when it includes lovely, local, hand-made knitted items and beautiful amber jewelry.
While most tourists visit Tallinn during the high tourist season from spring through fall, the city elders have found a creative way to lure winter tourism as well. Screening over 250 films each year, Tallinn offers the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (in Estonian it's known as the Pimedate Oode Filmifestival, or POFF). I think it's an ingenious way to spend those long, dark Baltic nights!! But be prepared for crowds if you visit during this November to December festival as over 75,000 people attend.
Tip for Tourists Arriving by Ship: When strolling through the town, I find it most comfortable to have a bus or taxi drop me off as near the top of Old Town as possible. I then spend hours walking through the little warrens, tiny shops and back streets of this charming town at a very leisurely rate as I head downhill, back to the port.
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