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The unique value of Tallinn’s Old Town lies first and foremost in the well-preserved completeness of its medieval milieu and structure, which has been lost in most of the capitals of northern Europe. Since 1997, the Old Town of Tallinn has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Its powerful defensive structures have protected Tallinn from being destroyed in wars, and its lack of wooden buildings has protected it from burning down. But it is also crucial that Tallinn hasn’t been massively rebuilt in the interest of dispensing with the old and modernising the town.

Tallinn is one of the best retained medieval European towns, with its web of winding cobblestone streets and properties, from the 11th to 15th centuries, preserved nearly in its entirety. All the most important state and church buildings from the Middle Ages have been preserved in their basic original form, as well as many citizens’ and merchants’ residences, along with barns and warehouses from the medieval period.

The golden era in Tallinn’s history lies in the period between the early 15th and mid 16th centuries. Tallinn had attained fame and a powerful role in the Baltic Sea area through its membership in the Hanseatic League. Economic might carried with it both the need to defend the city and the opportunity for a rich period of architectural and artistic creativity.

The Tsarist Period

From the time that Peter the Great captured Tallinn in 1710 until just after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Tallinn was under Russian Tsarist rule. Though the Baltic Germans still played a dominant role in town life, the Russian empire brought its own customs, architecture, and the Russian Orthodox religion, all of which heavily influenced the development of Tallinn through the 18th and 19th centuries. The most lasting remnants of that era are symbols of the Tsar’s power and extravagance, such as the magnificent Kadriorg palace and surrounding parks, and the symbols of the empire itself, such as the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Tallinn's Soviet Legacy

Estonia was first occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, then by Nazi Germany in 1941, and again by the Soviets in 1944. The country remained occupied, forcibly integrated into the USSR, from the end of the war until the country regained its independence in 1991. During that time Soviet rule left indelible marks on Tallinn’s landscape which today serve as reminders of the powerful regime that once exercised tight control over every aspect of life in Estonia. They’re also fascinating places to visit for foreign guests interested in that chapter of the world’s history.
(Source:travelbaltics & Tourism.Tallinn)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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