OLD CITY BY THE SEA: Tallinn celebrates its long history and its 1249 entry into the Hansa league, with events for everyone.
TALLINN - The capital of the Estonian Republic is one of the oldest capital cities in Northern Europe. It is one of the best retained medieval European towns, especially the Old Town with its unique medieval surroundings.
The unique value of Tallinn’s Old Town lies first and foremost in the well-preserved completeness of its medieval milieu and structure, which has been lost in most of the capitals of Northern Europe. Since 1997 Tallinn has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The golden era in Tallinn’s history lies in the period between the early 15th and mid 16th centuries. During that period, Tallinn attained fame and a powerful role in the Baltic Sea area through its membership in the Hanseatic League.
During a walk in the Old Town you can feel and touch history everywhere. The web of winding cobblestone streets and buildings from the 11th to 15th centuries has been preserved nearly in its entirety. Thanks to this, one can sense the atmosphere of the old days.
During the past ten years the capital has developed into a very modern and open city, with new tall glass and steel buildings, illuminated signs of major international companies, large shopping malls, a newly renovated airport, ever growing cargo and dozens of new manufacturing and warehouse complexes.
Tallinn offers much to discover for people with various interests – for those who love the arts, as well as those who are interested in nightlife, for gourmet lovers, for shoppers, for friends of nature and many others.
Tallinn invites all its visitors and guests, as well as its residents, to take part in celebration day “Tallinna Paev” (Days of Tallinn City, or Tallinn Days), which will take place on May 15.
This event is an important day for all Tallinners as in 1249 Tallinn gained Lubeck city rights, giving it admission to the league of European cities. Tallinn Day commemorates this significant historical event. This commemoration was first held in 2002. The organization’s goals were to raise Tallinners sense of their own city and to offer both citizens and visitors all sorts of free, cultural happenings in Tallinn.
According to history, the capital of Danish Estonia was called Reval (Tallinn), founded at the place of Lyndanisse after the invasion of 1219. The Danes built the fortress of Castrum Danorum at Toompea Hill. Estonians still call their capital “Tallinn,” which, according to an urban legend, derives from ‘Taani linna’ (Danish town or castle). However, some experts say that it could also have come from “tali-linna” (winter-castle/town), or “talu-linna” (house/farmstead-castle/town). The element ‘linna,’ like Germanic ‘burg’ and Slavic ‘grad,’ originally meant “fortress,” but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names.
Even today, Danish influence can be seen in heraldic symbols, such as the city of Tallinn’s coat of arms being a shield with the Danish cross; and Estonia’s coat of arms depicting three lions, similar to the Danish coat of arms.
“Tallinn Day” is also the official launch of Tallinn 2011, a full program with the theme “Stories of the Seashore,” when the city becomes European Capital of Culture. The entire Freedom Square will be filled with cultural capital activities.
The “Tallinn Day” program will include a fish market opening, the chimney sweep sculpture opening, “Reval meets Tallinn” parade, planting of the Chopin roses – Chopin Year 2010, which will take place in front of the music school named for well-known Estonian composer George Ots.
Tallinn’s museums and the Lutheran churches in the center of town will have free entry from 6 -10 p.m. Visitors will have a chance to take in the exciting sights and exquisite concerts, such as “Spring Evening with Mozart.” The celebration night will close with “In the tracks of Lubeck Rights” procession.
Additionally, the Culture Capital Tallinn 2011 program “Stories of the Seashore” includes “Circus tree,” presented by Circus studio Folio, a welcoming ceremony held by Tallinn’s mayor and representatives of “Tallinn 2011,” as well as concerts of youth drum orchestra “Drum-It,” a high school musical presented by Theater Treff. The programs also include an extreme sports show, greetings from Culture Capital 2011 city Turku, XI Youth Song and Dance Celebration, Stories of the Seashore, Pure beauty by the Estonian Ballet, and more. All these shows will take place at Freedom Square in Tallinn.