Tallin Travel Guide
Since its re-emergence as an independent nation in the early nineteen nineties, Estonia has come along in leaps and bounds. Nowhere else is the regeneration more apparent than in the glorious capital city of Tallinn. Since 1997 when the City was placed in the UNESCO World Heritage List it has gone to great lengths to restore much of its former glory, with many of the principal attractions and monuments having a total make over. Today the fascinating medieval Old Town is amongst the best preserved of its kind in Europe. This resurgence has meant that tourism has boomed and although prices are on the rise, it's still a relatively inexpensive destination that offers some particularly up market treats.
Over one quarter of the city is green belt and pride of place is taken by the beautiful, wooded Kadriorg Park in the very heart, which was designed for Peter The Great. Within the grounds stands the Kadriorg Palace which has been fully restored to its former Baroque glory. Other landmarks include the 19th century Russian orthodox Alexandre Nevsky Cathedral, a wonderful neo-Byzantine structure. Toompea Castle is amongst the most splendid parliamentary meeting places in Europe; originally a Danish fortress, it still has three of its original four towers. The City's oldest church is the Toomkirk opposite, which dates back to the 12th century. The church actually burned down and was rebuilt in the 16th century in Gothic style with its Baroque tower added later. Even the ordinary houses of Tallinn are fascinating; covered in wood cladding, they are each painted different colours creating an almost storybook atmosphere. For the very best views of the City, head to the top floor of Hotel Olimpia, where you'll find a café and observation platform.
The inhabitants of Tallinn love more than anything to enjoy life. Maybe it's a backlash from the years of hardship prior to and just after Estonia regained independence. The area around the Old Town has a thriving nightclub scene and dozens of busy bars, many of which offer live music. Restaurant wise, Tallinn's eateries run the gamut of international cuisine as well as traditional local dishes for those who want to go native. During the summer the area around Town Hall Square becomes a virtual non-stop party, as temporary open-air bars and cafes are set up and musicians, dancers and other entertainers gather on the streets to play. There are even three public beaches in the Pirita area for those brave enough to take a dip in the Baltic.
Tallin is a place of great beauty, art and culture. It is also a place where entertainment and good times are taken seriously. Booze is cheap, the food is inexpensive and tasty, accommodation is generally good quality (but you will need to book) and the overall atmosphere of the City is one of optimism and good humour. Elegant and exciting, it is fast becoming a favourite destination with the hip and hedonistic amongst Europe's young and young at heart.
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