Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia, home to one-third of the country's population. It is located on the shores of the Gulf of Finland - it was and still is an important harbor of the Baltic Sea. It is a city with a rich history, with many monuments, such as the picturesque Old Town, which has been perfectly preserved in its medieval beauty and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. It is surrounded by a cluster of modern buildings and architectural monuments dating back to Soviet times. Tallinn is also the administrative, financial, business, and cultural capital of the country, which in 2011 held the honorable title of the European Capital of Culture.
Copyright: Visit Tallinn
It is located in the north of the country, on the shore of Tallinn Bay.
The Tallinn Bay is a bay of the Baltic Sea in Estonia, in the southern part of the Gulf of Finland. It is located between two peninsulas: Kakumäe and Viimsi. Its maximum depth is up to 100 meters. There are two islands in the bay: Aegna and Naissaar.
Tallinn has approximately 33% of the country's population – 437.619 people live there (2700 people/km2) - making it the most populous city in Estonia.
Tallinn is the seat of the main institutions of the Republic of Estonia, the parliament (Rigikogu), the presidential residence, and ministries. It is also the administrative center of Harju County.
Each district is administered by a district president. Such a person is recommended by the mayor, but the proposal is assessed by the administrative council and does not have to be binding.
Its total population is 530.000 inhabitants and its area is 1391 square kilometers. It is divided into three zones.
It is also the main source of drinking water for the city. The second largest lake in Tallinn is Harkusøen, with an area of 1.6 square kilometers.
Its length is 105 km and the basin area is 799 square kilometers.
A limestone cliff runs through the town and can be seen at Toompea and Lasnamäe. This cliff forms the geological dividing line of the land on which Tallinn is located - an area formed in the Ordovician in the south and the Cambrian in the north.
Winters in Tallinn are very cold and dark with little rainfall, spring is cool and dry. Summer is moderately hot and rainy, and autumn is a season of heavy rainfall, which, combined with the rapid melting of the first snow, causes mud to form in undeveloped areas.
It includes three larger peninsulas: Kopli, Paljassaare and Kakumäe. The city has many public beaches, including Pirita, Stroomi, Kakumäe, Harku and Pikakari.
In 2011, 50.1% of Tallinn's population spoke Estonian as their native language, and 46.7% spoke Russian as their native language.
According to Eurostat, in 2004 Tallinn had one of the highest numbers of non-European Union citizens of all member state capitals. However, Russians constituted a significant minority - approximately one-third of Tallinn's inhabitants are immigrants of Russian origin, most of whom currently have Estonian citizenship.
In 2020, ethnic Estonians constituted over 52% of Tallinn's population (before World War II it was over 80%).
There was then a large influx of immigrants from Russia and other parts of the former USSR. Entire new districts of the city were created, inhabited mainly by Russians: Mustamäe, Väike-Õismäe, Pelguranna, and, above all, Lasnamäe, which in the 1980s became and still is the most populated district of Tallinn.
The first mention of Tallinn appeared in the work of the Almoravid (soldier monk) cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi. In 1154, he drew up a map on which a city appeared, described as a fortress, called Kaluria.
These were fragments of pottery from around 3000 BC, and pottery from the single grave culture around 2500 BC.
Around 1050, the first fortress was built on Toompea Hill in today's Tallinn.
In 1219, the city was conquered by the Danish king Waldemar II the Victorious, who ordered the existing castle to be demolished and a new fortress built in its place. And that's probably why in Estonian and Finnish the name Tallinn translates as "Danish city."
In 1227, the Danes lost the city to the Livonian Order, who named the city Rewal.
In 1236, the Danes took over the city again. They started building the largest fortifications in this part of their lands, with walls 2.5 km long (one of the longest in medieval Europe), 16 m high, and 45 towers.
In 1285, Rewel became a member of the Hanseatic League, and in 1346, Estonia and Rewel were purchased by the Teutonic Order. The Teutonic Knights rebuilt the 13th-century castle on the hill and added, among other things, a tower called "Long Herman".
Most of the city's historic center was built during this time. As an attractive city in many respects, Rewal has become a target for the political games of its large neighbors.
In 1561, it passed into Swedish hands, and in 1710 it came under the rule of Tsar Peter I of Russia. Then the name of the city changed to Rewel.
Revel remained in Russian hands until 1918, when, after the declaration of independence of the Republic of Estonia, the capital was renamed Tallinn.
From 1940 it was under Soviet occupation, from 1941 under German occupation, and in 1944 it came under Soviet occupation again.
As a result of the war, the city did not suffer much; the destruction was the result of Soviet air raids on the Germans. During the most devastating Soviet bombing raid on March 9-10, 1944, over a thousand incendiary bombs were dropped on the city. This caused extensive fires, the death of 757 people, and the loss of shelter to over 20.000 people. people.
Tallinn gradually regained its western face. In addition to Danish and German influences, traces of both Swedish and Russian influences can be seen in today's Tallinn.
Old Russian influences can be seen, among others, in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which was built by Tsar Peter I in memory of a person perceived by Estonia as a persecutor.
This is the oldest part of Tallinn, where most of the buildings were built in the 13th and 14th centuries. Its area is 113 ha and the buffer zone is 2253 ha. Tallinn's Old Town has managed to fully retain its structure as a medieval Hanseatic city, intact since the 13th century. It borders the walls of Tallinn.
During the Soviet bombings in 1944, approximately 10% of the Old Town buildings were destroyed.
More than half of Estonian GDP is produced in Tallinn. In addition to its activities as a seaport, the city has developed in the information technology sector - in 2005, The New York Times characterized Estonia as "a kind of Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea".
Skype is one of the most famous of several Estonian start-ups originating from Tallinn. Recently, the capital of Estonia has become one of the main IT centers in Europe.
Finns are frequent guests there - from June to October, on average, 20-40 thousand Finnish tourists come there.
There are over 60 museums and galleries in the capital of Estonia.
It was included on the UNESCO list as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It takes place every five years in July at the Tallinn Song Festival parallel to the Estonian Dance Festival.
Estonians have one of the largest collections of folk songs in the world, with written records of approximately 133.000 folk songs. The choral ensemble consists of over 30.000 singers performing in front of an audience of 80.000.
Mass singing of songs and the anthem was prohibited in Estonia during the Soviet occupation. In September 1988, a record number of 300.000 people (over a quarter of all Estonians) gathered in Tallinn for a song festival.
It has been organized since 1997 and is the only festival in Northern Europe, in the Baltic region, accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers (FIAPF) to run the International Feature Film Competition Program.
In 2010, the European Film Awards ceremony took place at the festival.