Old Tallinn by foot

  • 2008-11-12
  • By Jana Belugina

TOP TOUR: A walking tour of Tallinn's Old Town includes marvelous sights and only takes a few hours.

TALLINN - This autumn seems to be spoiling us with sunny days. Now is probably the best time to go outside and to stroll about the cobblestone streets of the charming medieval Old Tallinn before it gets too cold.
The narrow streets of the Old Town interlace so unpredictably that sometimes it is possible to get lost 's however after some time even the navigation-challenged start to orientate quite well. Take time and enjoy the moment. The Baltic Times has prepared a brief look into some of the places worth passing by.

Old Tallinn is divided in two parts, the Upper City, located on the Toompea hill, and the Lower City. It is surrounded by medieval walls with 18 towers still standing today. Back in the 13th century, the sea washed those walls from the side of Fat Margarita Tower, where the Marine museum is located now. Later it was decided to extend the city's borders by pouring more sand onto the beach.
Next to the Fat Margarita Tower is located one of the gates to the city, known as the Big Sea Gates. A bit further down the same street the famous Three Sisters are located. These are three houses built wall to wall next to each other.

Legend has it that the two-sided houses belonged to families that harbored a feud against each other for ages 's but once their children fell in love, they built a third house in between as a sign of peace. Now it plays host to a very famous hotel also called Three Sisters.
Another famous gate to the town is the Viru Gate, with two tall Viru towers. Viru Street is probably the most famous street in Tallinn. Most tourists discovering the Old Town, as well as locals, use it very often for a nice walk leading to the City Hall. This street is also famous for the biggest choice of fresh-cut flowers, which can be a good stop before a romantic evening.

Two other famous streets are Pikk Jalg and Luhike Jalg, translated as Long Leg and Short Leg, respectively. Those strange names have led to a legend about the city that is lame on one leg.
Short Leg is also sometimes called street-stairs, because it is made completely out of stairs.
By climbing the stairs one will arrive at the beautiful Danish King Yard, located near the Neitsitorn, the tower that used to be a prison for prostitutes in the 14th Century. It has the Old Thomas weathercock on top of it, which is the symbol of Tallinn.  This is an amazing place that still preserves the medieval spirit.

A few meters up is Toompea hill, which holds the Parliament building and beautiful square, as well as the breathtaking orthodox cathedral of Alexander Nevsky.  There are two platforms from which it is possible to enjoy the view over the red tiled roofs located nearby 's it is definitely worth visiting.
The trip down is always easier, so for that it is advised to take Long Leg Street and arrive at the Town Hall, built back in 1404. Tallinn's Town Hall is very famous and has won the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage, as well as a medal for the conservation of Architectural Heritage. It is a revival of the last surviving Gothic Town Hall in Northern Europe.

Considering that the Old Town is very small, it only takes about one or two hours of leisurely walking to get through the whole place. Those few hours would be enough to see everything without getting too tired 's and would also stimulate a good appetite that could be satisfied in one of the cosy restaurants, located on each step in this part of the town.