WHAT TO SEE
The Medieval Old Town
This centuries-old district in the heart of Tallinn is without a doubt the most-visited and best-loved part of the city. Here are some ways to make the most of the Tallinn Card while making your way through the trademark
As you explore the cobblestone streets of medieval Tallinn, there’s no better place to start than Town Hall Square, the historic heart of the city. Here you can visit the imposing, gothic Town Hall, climb its 64m tower for spectacular views of the city, then duck into the 15th-century Town Prison, now home to Tallinn’s Museum of Photography.
Tallinn’s beloved medieval churches are nearby, including the 14th-century Holy Spirit Church with its intricate, carved wood interior, Niguliste Church, now a museum of church art, and the gigantic, 13th-century Oleviste Church, once the tallest building in the world. It has its own tower to climb, for those who dare. The Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin, not far away on Toompea hill, completes the list. It's filled with spectacular artwork and the elaborate coats of arms of Estonia's nobility.
A good way to get an overview of Old Town's development is to visit the Tallinn City Museum, situated in a medieval dwelling that dates from the 14th century. The exhibits outline the history of the town from its very beginning to the present day. Here, visitors can further enrich their museum experience by taking the Audioguide tour on offer.
A nearly 2km stretch of medieval Town Wall surrounds and protects Old Town. A close-up look at this amazing structure, and a chance to walk along its top, can be found at the Town Wall museum as well as at the Hellemann Tower and Town Wall. Located on opposite sides of the medieval city, they each offer different, charming views of the area's rooftops. Next to the Hellemann Tower stands the Dominician Monastery Claustrum, which provides an unforgettable glimpse into the inner chambers of Tallinn's 13th-century monastery.
Also guarding Old Town are two massive cannon towers: Kiek in de Kök houses a museum on Tallinn’s defences and serves as the gateway to the fascinating Bastion Tunnels hidden under Toompea hill, while Fat Margaret’s Tower is home to the Estonian Maritime Museum. Several smaller towers are also open to the public. The Maiden's Tower, for instance, offers a museum and café, while in the Epping Tower, visitors can get a hands-on introduction to medieval weaponry.
To hear historic and architectural details as you make your way around these sights, be sure to rent Audioguide Old Town Tour or Audioguide Tour on the iPod, both available from the Tallinn Tourist Information Centre. You can also take the Old Town Walking Tour for a more personal introduction to the area.
Free with Tallinn Card:
Town Hall Tower
Town Prison - Museum of Photography
Holy Spirit Church
Oleviste Church tower
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