The Old Town – Great cultural heritage in the centre of Tallinn

The Old Town (vanalinn) covers the areas of the Lower Town and Toompea (Cathedral Hill). With its numerous thoroughly restored buildings it is the evidence of the long and very changeable history of the city. The medieval centre of Tallinn is said to be the most beautiful and attractive city centre in the Baltic countries. There is a reason for it being one of the most popular destinations in north Europe.


Medieval alleys in the Old Town of Tallinn.

Tallinn’s Old Town attracts interest from the very first moment. Surrounded by huge city walls and numerous towers, the Old Town with its many narrow streets and staircases, gates and towers appears almost like a labyrinth.


Many of the houses, some of which date back several centuries and now accommodate apartments, restaurants or small shops, still have the original bull’s-eye panes. In these surroundings, many one-day tourists feel as if they could dive into the long history of Europe.


Town Hall Square. Centre of the Tallinn Old Town.
The Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats). Centre of the Old Town.

The most attractive places for tourists in the lower part of the Old Town are St. Nikolas Church (Niguliste kirik), situated at the bottom of the Cathedral Hill, the Holy Ghost Church (Pühavaimu kirik) right in the centre and the beautiful St. Olav’s church (Oleviste kirik) in the north. Other attractions are the Town Hall with its lively Town Hall Square and the guild houses (gildi maja).


Toompea Hill, which is approx. 50 meters high, has for centuries been the throne for the ruler in Tallinn. Aristocracy and clergy used the height not only to appear majestic and superior, but also as a shelter against the noisy and busy lower part of the city. Today you should visit the late gothic Dome Church (Toomkirik), the beautiful castle and the mighty Aleksander Nevskij’s Cathedral.


Viru-Street leads to market and town hall place.

The hill with its beautiful buildings, dominating the townscape, can be seen from the distance. It is a real “must see” for visitors! Considering this agglomeration of sights it is quite understandable that over one million guests visit the metropolis each year. Most of them come from the neighbouring Scandinavian countries or from Mid-Europe.


The Nevskij-Cathedral.

The historic Old Town was declared the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and the people know how to promote this award. The way the people treat their city should be a good example for many other cities.


Thanks to careful cultivation of buildings and plenty of greenery, Tallinn was  awarded the title of “the Cleanest city in Europe” recently. This award definitely proves the Estonians’ attempt to preserve and improve the image of their capital.



 - Next topic: Tallinn districts