Friday, January 21, 2011

Mystery Photo 2: Talinn, Estonia. More photos and information.

     MYSTERY PHOTO: Talinn, Estonia, the capital. Several years ago after a tour to Moscow, Russia; a river cruise up the Volga, through various lakes etc, to St Petersburg, Russia, we then took a bus trip to Talinn, Estonia. I loved Talinn. It is a walled medieval city that is well preserved, having been spared much of the damage to Western Europe during World War II. It has become a tourist destination and therefore has many businesses, restaurants and pubs that cater to tourists. Particularly people from Helsinki, Finland take the 3 hour ferry over to spend a weekend in Talinn. We learned much of the history while we were there and viewed several of the historic churches. I have posted several photos of the city and its charm.

      This is the Town Hall, the only surviving Gothic Town Hall in Europe. The present structure was completed in 1402. Talinn was  a member of the Hanseatic League. This was an alliance of cities and their guilds along the Baltic Sea and North Sea that cooperated economically in the 13th-17th centuries, also called the Hansa. The Hansa merchants from each city elected the governing council and it met in this building. This Town Hall was used until the 1970s for city meetings. It is now only used for special events. Below is a map showing the extent of the Hanseatic League.


     Below are two photos of the largest town square in the Old City, although there are several smaller squares.


    Below are two pictures which show some of the architecture of the Old City; first just an interesting building, and then an interesting door. 

    
The city streets are very narrow and winding and demonstrate very nicely what life was like in this city in medieval times. 




      There is a restaurant in the Old Town that we went to twice. This is where we found many of those Finns visiting for a day or the weekend to be eating, imbibing and having a general good time. The food was very hearty and served  in old looking pottery by waiters and waitresses in medieval dress. The restaurant was busy both on the street and inside the old building. You could definitely imagine yourself backwards in time here at this establishment.



      Below is a photo of the Old City to refresh your memory, taken from the waterfront of the Baltic Sea.  In the middle picture below, you can see the beautiful church in the center which stands higher than the rest of the buildings. That is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church, which is located in what is called the Upper Town. The rest of the Old City photoed sites here are located in the Lower Old Town. The photo below that shows that there is a modern city of Talinn which is where our hotel was located. This area is within walking distance of the Old City Wall.




     Below is a photo of the radio/tv tower which is located outside the main city, across a bay from the Old City. We went up into this radio tower to see the view. Apparently it is now obsolete and regarded as becoming unsafe, so it would be closing after the summer season that we were there. Also nearby is a botanical garden which is quite pretty. It was worth driving out to this place, but it may not be open any more.


         Below are photos of the Old City Wall, some portions dating to the 17th century. There are 26 cone roofed towers guarding the corners of the City Wall. They are in quite good repair. It was important to make these towers round, because cannon balls were deflected by the round shape if the city should come under attack, especially from the sea.  



     Mostly this city was very well maintained and was very clean and fresh looking even though many of the structures are very old. But here was some evidence of the age of the infrastructure here. We were walking from our hotel to the Old City and were just about to pass through a pedestrian gate in the wall. We were passing a very large flower market when we heard a pop and then a hiss and then some sound of tumbling bricks just 10 feet behind us. We turned around and the brick sidewalk that we had just walked over, had exploded as shown here. We concluded that there must have been a gas leak that got ignited and basicly blew up the sidewalk. Scary! If we had been on top of this spot, we would have been knocked down I am sure; not killed, but certainly injured in some way. We went on and saw the Old City. When we returned this was a hole filled up to street level with sand. The city works had been active. We regarded ourselves as very lucky and just went on with our travel.


          All in all, with the exception of the exploding sidewalk, our visit to Talinn was very much enjoyed. Do try to include it in any plans you have for a Baltic Sea cruise, or Eastern European tour.

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