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Facts about Tallinn

1 Tallinn's public tram system dates back to 1888.
2 One of Tallinn's most romantic spots is St. Catherine's Passage, an attractive little lane where craftswomen create and sell stained glass, ceramics, jewellery, quilts, leather goods and hats.
3 Tallinn is home to NATO's main research centre for cyber defense.
4 A wooden fortress built on Toompea Hill sometime in the 10th or 11th century was probably the first structure in what later became Tallinn. Toompea Castle now stands on the same spot.
5 During Soviet times, KGB used the tall, metal spire of the Medieval St. Olav's Church as a radio transmission tower.
6 In 2011, Tallinn took on its role as European Capital of Culture.
7 For several weeks each winter Tallinn's Town Hall Square is filled with an elaborate Christmas Market where visitors can buy gifts, listen to concerts, visit with Santa or drink hot, spiced wine.
8 Tallinn shares a nearly identical geographical latitude with Stockholm.
9 During Estonia's White Nights in late June the Tallinn sky stays bright from 4 am until around 11 pm.
10 Tallinn's Old Town was entered on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1997 as an 'exceptionally complete and well preserved example of a medieval northern European trading city'.
11 The population of Tallinn is just over 400,000. About 30 percent of the Estonia's 1.34 million residents live here.
12 The city's famous Kadriorg Palace, completed in 1718, was built on the order of Russian Tsar Peter the Great.
13 The Estonian Song and Dance Celebration, held in Tallinn every five years, assembles one of the world's largest choirs. Up to 30,000 singers typically take part.
14 Tallinn's Town Hall, built 1402-1404, is the best preserved Medieval town hall in Northern Europe.
15 Every November-December Tallinn hosts the Black Nights Film Festival, the largest film event in the Baltic states.
16 From 1549 to 1625 St. Olav's Church, with its 159-metre spire, was the tallest building in the world.
17 For several weeks each winter Tallinn's Town Hall Square is filled with an elaborate Christmas Market where visitors can buy gifts, listen to concerts, visit with Santa or drink hot, spiced wine.
18 Throughout most of its history, Tallinn was known to the world by its German name, Reval.
19 A 2008 Discovery Channel article rated Tallinn among the world's top 10 cities for free wireless Internet access.
20 Denmark's national flag originated in Tallinn. According to legend, it floated down from the heavens during the Danes' battle to conquer Toompea Hill in 1219.
21 About 1.9km of the high, limestone wall that surrounded Tallinn in Medieval times is still intact today. The system includes 20 defensive towers and portions of two outer gates.
22 At 314 metres, Tallinn's TV tower is the tallest building in Estonia. On a clear day, the coastline of Finland is visible from its observation platform.
23 The eyes of the world were on Tallinn in 1980 when the city hosted the sailing events for the Moscow Olympics.
24 In 2003 construction workers discovered a forgotten system of 17th-century defensive tunnels just outside the old city wall.
25 In 1284 Tallinn became a member of the Hanseatic League, a network of cities that dominated northern Europe's trade in Medieval times.
26 Tallinn is a beach town. In the Pirita district, just outside the city centre, a 2km stretch of sand beach borders Tallinn Bay.
27 During Soviet times, Tallinn / northern Estonia was the only place in the USSR where residents could pick up Western TV broadcasts.
28 The oldest recorded mention of Tallinn dates to 1154, when Arab Cartographer Al-Idrisi marked it on his map of the known world.
29 Records show that merchants from the Brotherhood of Black Heads guild installed a spruce on Town Hall Square in 1441, making it one of the first public Christmas trees in Europe.
30 One of the most famous symbols of Tallinn is the Old Thomas weather vane that stands atop the Town Hall Tower. The original dates to 1530.
31 Tallinn is only 85km from Helsinki. A ferry trip between the cities takes 2 hours or less.
32 Tallinn is a popular cruise ship destination, with more than 300 ships making the call here each year.
33 A circular stone on Town Hall Square marks the only spot from which the tops of all five of the city's Medieval spires are visible.
34 Legend claims that the Toompea Hill section of Tallinn's Old Town is actually the burial mound of Estonia's mythical hero, Kalev.
35 The Amur leopard, the star attraction at the Tallinn Zoo, is so rare that only 30 - 35 of them still exist worldwide.
36 Tallinn's oldest café, Maiasmokk (Sweet Tooth), has been open since 1864.
37 Every June Tallinn hosts the week-long Old Town Days festival, the city's largest Medieval-themed event.
38 During World War II, Tallinn residents used some of the 17th-century tunnels under Old Town as bomb shelters. From March 2010 these tunnels are open to the public as a tourist attraction.
39 Estonia's break from Soviet rule, often called the “Singing Revolution,” gets its name from mass folk song events that took place in Tallinn's Song Festival Grounds in summer 1988.
40 The famous Minox camera, a mainstay of Cold-War-era spy films, was invented in Tallinn in the 1930s.
41 One of Tallinn's most internationally recognised employers is Skype. The company's popular Voice Over IP system was developed in Estonia.
42 Tallinn's Lennart Meri International Airport is only 4.5km from the city centre. Depending on traffic a taxi ride from the airport to a downtown hotel can take as little as 10 minutes.
43 According to Medieval Tallinn law, any serf who escaped his master and managed to hide out in the city for a year and a day was then considered free.
44 The Raeapteek on Town Hall Square is Europe's oldest continuously-operating pharmacy. It has been open since 1422.
45 Hidden on the top floor of downtown Tallinn's Sokos Hotel Viru is a radio room where, during the 1970s and 80s, coded messages were picked up from Soviet embassies in the Nordic countries and relayed to Moscow.
46 In Medieval times the town council employed a full-time executioner. Because the superstitious town folk considered it such bad luck to bump into him, he was made to wear a bright, red cloak when walking the streets.
47 Chimney sweeps in Tallinn still wear old-fashioned, 19th-century-style uniforms. Touching their brass buttons is supposed to bring good luck.
48 The city's signature drink is Vana Tallinn, a sweet liqueur invented in the 1960s. It's usually taken straight or added to coffee.
49 A public wheel well in Tallinn's Old Town is nicknamed 'Cat's Well' due to the Medieval practice of tossing stray cats into it. Residents believed doing so would prevent a spirit from flooding the town.
50 Tallinn's most famous artwork is Bernt Notke's 15th-century painting Danse Macabre (Dance with Death), a spooky depiction of people dancing with skeletons. The wall-sized work is on display in St. Nicholas' Church.
51 One of Old Town's narrowest lanes, Needle Eye Gate, had remained buried under World War II bombing rubble and hidden by landscaping for more than 60 years before it was unearthed and restored as a memorial in 2008.
52 Neitsitorn (Virgin's tower), one of Tallinn's defensive towers, was given its name as a kind of Medieval joke: It used to house a prison for prostitutes.
53 In Tallinn's historic Old Town, the longest street is called Pikk, which literally means 'long'. Pikk runs parallel to the area's widest street, Lai, which unsurprisingly means 'wide'.
54 A 1930s-era, British-built submarine called the Lembit, a rare relic of Estonia's prewar navy, is open to visitors at Tallinn's Sea Plane Harbour.
55 The city's oldest existing building is its Dominican Monastery, which dates to 1246. In summer its courtyard operates as a museum.
56 One of the city's quirkier tourist attractions is the Soviet-era Patarei Prison, a gloomy fortress surrounded by guard towers and barbed wire. The prison has been left virtually untouched since it closed in 2004.
57 Many Tallinn restaurateurs have a flare for originality, particularly in their meat selection. Among the more exotic items found on the city's menus are marinated bear, moose curry and antelope fricassee.
58 Tallinn's two biggest cannon towers are called Paks Margareta (Fat Margaret), supposedly named after a cannon once installed there, and Kiek in de Kök, (Peep into the Kitchen), a reference to the view from the top. Both are now museums.
59 In Tallinn's Old Town you can find a museum devoted entirely to explosive sea mines.
60 In Medieval times Tallinn's city gates were firmly shut each evening at 9 p.m. Anyone wandering the streets after that hour without a good reason was taken to jail.
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