Welcome to Tallinn’s magical medieval old town. Check out its famous highlights and discover some secrets along the way with this guide.
Medieval churches, 11th century merchant houses, original cobblestone streets and traditionally clad waiters will fling you right back to a world long gone. The old town in Tallinn has plenty of attractions, many of which you absolutely must see. There are also a number of spots you may miss if just heading out by yourself. Make sure you see it all including these cool, little known attractions when visiting.
When talking about the old town, you really need to know the basics first. The area is home to incredible well-preserved architecture, some dating back to the 11th century. It is so precious that it is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, dubbed the “Medieval Pearl of Europe”. Before you go on an adventure to find secret passageways, charming streets and underground tunnels you should stop by the Kiek-in-de-Kök, get some snaps along the ancient walls and see Town Hall Square. Town Hall Square is said to be where the world’s first Christmas Tree was put up and is home to a charming Christmas markets each year.
Town Hall Pharmacy
Most people will venture into the town hall square but not everyone takes the time to step into the different stores dug into the sides of these culturally rich buildings. The Town Hall Pharmacy, also known as Raeapteek is one such place. Being one of the oldest continuously running pharmacies in Europe, this historical treat will teach you a great deal of the past. Be sure to pick up some claret wine, a medicine that was conveniently also delicious. Outside you will spot the symbol of the “Bowl of Hygeia”. It symbolizes a pharmacy, as pharmacists must be as wise as snakes that drink from the cup of wisdom, like in the Legend of Corvus.
A picture perfect history lesson
St. Catherine’s Passage is a hidden treat behind St. Catherine’s Church, home to the church’s guild. Head north on Vene Street until you find a gateway on the left. Down this pretty passage you will notice ancient tombstones lining the walls and artisan workshops where you can buy hand made items. Make the trip and learn a little history in this secluded gem in the city. If you want to take a peek at the oldest of the old, head to Dominiiklaste Kloostri Muuseum, a Dominican Monastery founded in the early 1200’s. This is just a few paces north of the entrance to the passageway and is now a museum that will teach you a little more of the history of the city.
Try a crazy cool dining experience
Would you like to dine in the belly of a pirate ship where even the bathroom is in a treasure chest? Pirates will bring you delicious meals as they dodge masts, cannons, sails and skulls at Korsaar Gourmet Restaurant. Every detail here has been carefully planned to grapple with all your senses and send you on a wild adventure full of crossbones, skulls and perhaps even a little old-fashioned jail time.
Tunneling through the underground
Underneath the famous Kiek-in-de-Kök Tower in the old town are snaking stone tunnels that were dug out to move soldiers and ammunition (as well as to hide in) during the wars. In the 1600’s, Estonia was under Swedish rule and skirmishes were always a worry so tunnels were constructed. In 2003, construction workers even found new tunnel connections. Take a tour of these mysterious passageways, see the equipment left over and check out the museum in the tower.
The old town is a place you cannot miss when in the Estonian capital. With its secret passageways, medieval architecture, historical treasures and charming atmosphere, you will want to spend days here! Head to VisitTallinn for more information. Grab a room nearby at the Radisson Blu Hotel Olümpia, Tallinn or the Radisson Blu Sky Hotel Tallinn and enjoy modern comforts when exploring such an ancient part of the city.