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Estonia Travel & Holiday Tips
 
 
 

The most scenic of the three Baltic States, Estonia is a nation famed for its enormous forests, beautiful wetlands and remote offshore islands as well as for being one of Europe's most friendly and forward-thinking nations.

Estonia is an unspoilt, sparsely populated country, nearly half of which is covered with forests. Wetlands, together with primeval forests, represent preserved communities which have for the most part been destroyed in Europe.

Tallinn

An ancient Hanseatic city and the capital of Estonia, Tallinn has a wealth of historical and architectural monuments, particularly in the old town centre which is dominated by the soaring steeple of the medieval Town Hall (14th to 15th centuries), the oldest in northern Europe. More than two-thirds of the original City Wall still stands and a superb view of the narrow streets, the gabled roofs and the towers and spires of old Tallinn is afforded from Toompea Castle, situated on a cliff top.

The city's old town has been astonishingly well preserved and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997, it is now in better shape than ever, with the bigger roads converted into fashionable shopping streets reminiscent of Zürich or Geneva. Especially in summer, the Old Town is packed with tourists, with the traditional day-trippers from sister city Helsinki increasingly supplemented by Europeans taking advantage of cheap flights.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a classic onion-domed 19th-century Russian Orthodox church that has become a touristy symbol of the city, much to the annoyance of nationalist types who regard it as a symbol of oppression. It was almost demolished in 1924 during Estonia's first brief spell of independence, but the Soviets left it to moulder and it has been restored to its former glory.

St Mary's Cathedral (Toomkirik) is the oldest church in Tallinn, originally built as a Catholic church in 1229 but renovated and expanded many times since then, becoming a Lutheran church in 1561.

Walk around Toompea (it only takes a few minutes) and check out the viewpoints, some of which give great views over the city. There's also a cluster of amber (merevaik) shops around here.

The Rottermann quarter is an industrial district between the City and the Tallinn Port. The buildings are from the 19th and 20th century, with motifs of Art Nouveau and Historicism. New and stylish apartment buildings with shopping centre have now been built there widely regarded as architectural masterpiece in Tallinn.

A favourite recreation spot is Kadriorg Park, which contains the palace built for Tsar Peter the Great. The Kadriorg Palace, Weizenbergi 37, is an imperial Russian summer residence built by Italian architect Niccolo Michetti for Tsar Peter the Great in 1718. It is situated in a 90 ha (222 acre) park in the eastern part of the city. The Tsar himself, a classic and mysterious Russian soul, preferred to stay in a modest house nearby. This event signified the beginning of Tallinn's fame as a summer resort for noble and rich Russians for most of the 18th and 19th centuries. Currently the palace is housing some paint collections and other art. A portion of the complex is now occupied by the Office of the President and not available to the public.

The Open Air Museum offers visitors a glimpse into the way of rural life in the 18th and 19th centuries. This museum includes 72 buildings of "Estonian vernacular architecture and village milieu" of the tsarist time of rule in a dark, dense forest. A local folk-dancing group gives free performances here at 11 am each Saturday and Sunday.

Pärnu

About two hours’ drive from Tallinn is Pärnu, a small town situated on the banks of the Pärnu River where it emerges into the Gulf of Riga. Established in the 13th century, the town is known as a seaport and a health resort. Among its attractions are its theatre and its 3 km- (2 mile-) long sandy beach, which is very popular with Estonians.

Tartu

Estonia’s second-largest city lies about 176 km (110 miles) from Tallinn on the Emajõgi River. The city has a very old university and other sights include the Vyshgorod Cathedral (13th to 15th centuries), the Town Hall (18th century) and the university’s Botanical Garden.


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