Embarking on a half-day or full-day journey around the Old Town of Tallinn is an opportunity to experience the magnificent aspects of this historic city beyond its medieval core.
We'll start our journey by strolling along the splendid Pirita promenade, known for its breathtaking views of Tallinn Bay. Here, you can capture some of the most impressive coastline photographs with the city's skyline in the backdrop.
Next, we'll visit the intriguing ruins of St. Bridget's Monastery. This former convent, dating back to the 15th century, is a testament to the city's religious history. The well-preserved ruins, set in a peaceful green space, offer an insightful glimpse into the monastic life of the past.
The final stop on our journey will be the Kadriorg Palace, a jewel of Petrine Baroque architecture nestled in a beautifully landscaped park. The palace is surrounded by charming gardens and ponds, offering a tranquil retreat from the bustling city. Designed by the famed Italian architect Niccolo Michetti, the palace and surrounding gardens provide a serene and picturesque end to exploring Tallinn's vicinities.
Overall, this journey offers a diverse experience, combining stunning natural views, historical insights, and architectural beauty, enriching your understanding and appreciation of Estonia's capital, Tallinn.
Start your journey from the bus station to the enchanting district of Pirita, also home to the captivating St. Brigita Monastery. As you arrive in Pirita, you'll notice that while it spans a large area, it boasts a relatively low population of approximately 16,636 residents as of January 2012.
The district essentially differs from the typical cityscape of Tallinn, featuring mostly private residences as opposed to the towering apartment blocks seen in areas such as Lasnamäe and Mustamäe. Instead, Pirita presents a landscape blending modern buildings and traditionally-styled houses.
Pirita's prestige and affluence are partly owed to its natural endowments. For example, the renowned Pirita Beach, the largest in Tallinn, lies here. This beach is a magnet for locals and tourists, attracting up to 30,000 visitors on a sunny summer day. Additionally, the district has a bustling yachting harbour, further enhancing its appeal.
Thus, Pirita represents the epitome of luxury living in Tallinn, presenting a unique fusion of modernity and nature, making it a must-visit location on your journey around Tallinn.
The ruins of Pirita Convent, also known as St. Bridget's Monastery, stand as a captivating historical site in Tallinn's prestigious Pirita district. Once a significant religious institution in medieval Estonia, the convent's grandeur was brought to an unfortunate end during the Livonian War in the late 16th century. Yet, despite its ruins, the remains of the monastery, consisting of stone walls, arches, and towers, offer an evocative and picturesque glimpse into the past.
These ruins have become more than just a historical site. Under a 10-year contract, the Birgitta Sisters manage this incredible location, which includes a serene park set amidst the ruins. The site provides a unique setting for concerts and festive events; it is exceptional acoustics and a tranquil atmosphere contributing to the success of many a gathering. The park frequently hosts these cultural events, blending history, nature, and entertainment into one experience.
Visitors can approach the convent ruins from the Brigitta Sisters' cloister whenever the main gate is closed. The abbey also features a museum, open year-round, offering a deeper understanding of the history. The museum is open from 12 PM to 4 PM from January to March, November, and December. The visiting hour's change from 10 AM to 6 PM from April to October.
The Pirita Convent Ruins offer an enriching journey through time and history. Despite their weathered state, they remain integral to Tallinn's cultural tapestry and a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike.
The inception of the Pirita Convent can be traced back to around 1400, when the idea was put forth by Tallinn merchants H. Huxer, G. Kruse, and H. Svalbard. Two monks from Vadstena Abbey were brought to guide the project in 1407. By 1417, they had secured the first permit to quarry dolomite, a necessary building material for the monastery's construction.
Heinrich Svalbard, a notable architect of the time, oversaw the complex's construction. The monastery's main church was officially consecrated on August 15, 1436, by Heinrich II, the Bishop of Tallinn. Interestingly, some founding merchants later dedicated themselves to monastic life within these walls.
In its prime, the Pirita Convent became the most influential Catholic monastery within Livonia. However, its decline began with Estonia's adoption of the Protestant Reformation in 1525, even though the convent was permitted to continue its operations.
The monastery's downfall was ultimately sealed during the Livonian War in 1575 when Russian forces led by Ivan the Terrible brutally attacked the convent. The troops plundered the monastery's valuable treasures and set the building ablaze. From then on, the Pirita Convent was deserted, with its surrounding lands repurposed as a cemetery.
Michael Steven Park, commemorated talented co-driver, is built along the scenic Pirita Promenade in Tallinn, Estonia. Born on June 22, 1966, in Newent, Gloucestershire, Michael was among the most distinguished co-drivers of his generation. Unfortunately, his career was cut tragically short on September 18, 2005, when he was fatally injured during the final leg of the Wales Rally Great Britain. The Peugeot 307 WRC he and driver Markko Märtin were navigating veered off the road and crashed into a tree.
Michael and Märtin, the prominent Estonian driver, achieved remarkable success together over three seasons with Ford before moving to Peugeot in 2005. Michael's untimely passing, the first high-profile rally fatality since Rodger Freeth in 1993, prompted renewed discussions about safety in motorsport.
Michael Steven is remembered not only for his professional achievements but also for his personal life. He is survived by his wife, Marie, and two children, William and Victoria. As an enduring tribute to his life and legacy, a memorial was unveiled along the Pirita Promenade on June 20, 2006. This famous seaside walkway offers stunning views of Tallinn Bay and the city, a poignant reminder of Michael's enduring influence in rallying.
Michael Steven Park, a renowned rally co-driver, is commemorated along the scenic Pirita Promenade in Tallinn, Estonia. Born on June 22, 1966, in Newent, Gloucestershire, Park was among the most distinguished co-drivers of his generation. Unfortunately, his career was cut tragically short on September 18, 2005, when he was fatally injured during the final leg of the Wales Rally Great Britain. The Peugeot 307 WRC he and driver Markko Märtin were navigating veered off the road and crashed into a tree.
Park and Märtin, the prominent Estonian driver, achieved remarkable success together over three seasons with Ford before moving to Peugeot in 2005. Park's untimely passing, the first high-profile rally fatality since Rodger Freeth in 1993, prompted renewed discussions about safety in motorsport.
Park is remembered not only for his professional achievements but also for his personal life. He is survived by his wife, Marie, and two children, William and Victoria. As an enduring tribute to his life and legacy, a memorial was unveiled along the Pirita Promenade on June 20, 2006. This famous seaside walkway offers stunning views of Tallinn Bay and the city, a poignant reminder of Park's enduring influence in rallying.
This monument stands in honour of Charles Leroux, an American aeronaut known for his feats in ballooning and parachuting. Leroux tragically lost his life during his 239th jump, which ended in a watery descent into the bay of what was then Reval, now known as Tallinn, Estonia.
Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, United States, Leroux ventured to Europe in 1889, keen on showcasing his talent in piloting balloons and executing parachute jumps. His performance tour included notable appearances in Berlin, Bremen in Germany, and Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia. His final destination was Tallinn.
Leroux's last journey began from a bastion in the heart of the town in a balloon filled with illuminating gas. However, the winds had other plans, swaying the parachute and propelling it further to sea. It took two days for locals to recover Leroux's body, with the medical board determining the cause of death as drowning.
Leroux was laid to rest at the Kopli cemetery in Tallinn, a site that was unfortunately razed and obliterated by Soviet occupation forces in 1950. Despite this, Leroux's legacy remains, embodied in the monument commemorating his life and pioneering spirit in aeronautics.
[Photo By Tony Bowden](https://www.flickr.com/photos/tm-tm/2700882380/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84362570)
The Russalka Memorial, a striking bronze creation crafted by Amandus Adamson, was unveiled on September 7, 1902, in Kadriorg, Tallinn. This memorial was established to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Russian warship Rusalka during its journey to Finland in 1893.
Significantly, it holds the distinction of being the first monument in Estonia that an Estonian artist sculpted. The figure in the statue is an angel, reaching out with an Orthodox cross towards the presumed direction of the ship's wreckage.
The inspiration for the angel's form came from an unlikely source - the sculptor's housekeeper, Juliana Rootsi. Her grandson, Tiit Made, became a notable political figure in a twist of connectivity.
The Japanese Garden, nestled in Kadriorg Park, Tallinn, is a testament to the philosophy of the life cycle and the eloquent expression of nature's bounty. Opened to the public on July 31, 2011, this tranquil retreat encapsulates the fundamental principles of flow, reflection, and immersion within the soul, central to an authentic Japanese garden experience.
Conceptualized and brought to life by the acclaimed garden designer Masao Sone, originally from Kyoto, this garden showcases his garden architecture expertise, honed in Tokyo and enriched by the gardening traditions passed down by his father. With its natural landscape features, the Northeast Pond area of Kadriorg Park provided a rich canvas for Sone's creativity. Its terrain of open glint slope, boulder field, majestic trees, a serene pond, and a cascading waterfall served as a potent source of inspiration for his design.
Resplendent in its simplicity and natural harmony, the garden mirrors the cyclical nature of life, changing and evolving with the passing seasons. This dynamic garden aspect beckons visitors to return repeatedly, offering a new spectacle of natural beauty on each visit. Every element in the garden - from the smallest pebble to the giant tree - has been thoughtfully placed to inspire tranquillity and peace. It is a place where one can genuinely immerse oneself in the serene beauty of nature and reflect on life's flow.
Thus, the Japanese Garden in Kadriorg Park is more than a picturesque sanctuary; it's a living, breathing embodiment of traditional Japanese gardens' philosophical essence and aesthetic nuances. Here, within the heart of Tallinn, you can embark on a journey into the soul of Japanese culture and aesthetics.
Jan Koort, an Estonian sculptor, painter, and ceramicist, left an indelible mark on the art world. Born on November 6 in Tartu, he was the thirteenth child of Susanna-Marie and Jan Koorti, farmers in a rural village. His artistic journey began with studies at the Orge village school, followed by a period at the Tartu city school from 1896 to 1900.
In 1901, Koort enrolled in drawing courses organized by the German Craftsmen Society. His artistic education continued at the prestigious A. Stieglitz Art School in St. Petersburg from 1902 to 1905, where he delved into painting and sculpture. However, during the upheaval of the Revolution of 1905, Koort left St. Petersburg and embarked on a journey that would take him to various places, including Estonia, Finland, and Paris.
Koort's artistic pursuits and exploration of different mediums brought him recognition and acclaim. He passionately expressed his creativity through sculpture, painting, and ceramic art. Tragically, his life was cut short, and he passed away on October 14, 1935, in Moscow.
Jan Koort's artistic legacy continues to inspire and captivate art enthusiasts, showcasing his remarkable talent and contribution to the art scene in Estonia and beyond.
Amandus Heinrich Adamson, a talented Estonian sculptor and painter, had a remarkable artistic journey. Born into a seafaring family, Adamson's creative abilities were evident early, particularly in wood carving. In 1875, he made his way to St. Petersburg to pursue studies at the Imperial Academy of Arts under the guidance of Alexander Bock.
Following his graduation, Adamson continued to work as a sculptor and teacher in St. Petersburg, with a significant period of interruption from 1887 to 1891 when he travelled to Paris and Italy. During his time in Europe, he was greatly influenced by renowned French sculptors Jules Dalou and Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. These experiences abroad played a significant role in shaping his artistic style.
In 1902, Adamson created his most well-known work, the Russalka Memorial. This memorial, dedicated to the memory of the 177 sailors lost on the Ironclad warship Russalka, features a bronze angel poised on a slender column. The monument is a poignant symbol of remembrance and a testament to Adamson's artistic prowess.
In addition to his sculptural achievements, Adamson made notable contributions to architectural projects. His figurative bronzes for the Elisseeff department store in St. Petersburg, designed by architect Gavriil Baranovsky, and the French-style caryatids and figures for the Singer House, designed by architect Pavel Suzor, are prominent features along the famous Nevsky Prospekt. These works exemplify the distinct style of "Russian Art Nouveau."
In recognition of his artistic excellence, Adamson was appointed an academician of the Imperial Academy in 1907. However 1918, amidst the Russian Revolution and the Estonian War of Independence, he returned to his hometown of Paldiski in northwestern Estonia. He spent the remainder of his life there, leaving a lasting legacy of artistic brilliance and cultural significance.
Kadriorg Palace, also known as Schloss Katharinental, is a magnificent Petrine Baroque palace in Tallinn, Estonia. This architectural gem is commissioned by Peter the Great for his wife, Catherine I of Russia, as a symbol of grandeur and elegance. Its name, "Kadriorg," meaning "Catherine's valley" in Estonian and German, pays tribute to its royal association.
Construction of the palace began after the Great Northern War, and it was meticulously brought to life based on the designs of Nicola Michetti, with Gaetano Chiaveri and Mikhail Zemtsov overseeing its realization. The result is a stunning testament to Petrine Baroque aesthetics.
Today, Kadriorg Palace houses the Kadriorg Art Museum, a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia. Within its splendid halls, visitors can immerse themselves in a diverse collection of foreign art spanning the 16th to 20th centuries. The museum offers a captivating journey through art history, presenting masterpieces from various periods and styles.
Adding to the artistic allure of the area, the park surrounding the palace is home to the KUMU branch of the museum. Estonian art from the 18th century onwards is showcased, comprehensively exploring Estonia's rich artistic heritage.
A visit to Kadriorg Palace allows one to indulge in the splendour of its architectural beauty while immersing oneself in the artistic treasures it houses. It stands as a proud symbol of Estonia's cultural heritage, inviting visitors to appreciate the legacy of Peter the Great and Catherine I in the heart of Tallinn.
I-Lustla, located within Kadriorg Park, offers a fascinating glimpse into the elaborate model of the park. Visitors to this charming place can explore a variety of information materials available free of charge. Among the items on offer are park booklet leaflets, postcards featuring historical park plans, letter envelopes, and stamps adorned with the park logo.
In the middle of the 18th century, Kadriorg Park boasted two summer pavilions or chandeliers at different park corners. However, by the end of the century, only the chandelier in the lower garden remained. The original chandelier featured a square base plan and a two-tiered roof in the baroque style. It was a resting place for park-goers and beach visitors, providing shelter during rainy weather or a spot to enjoy tea.
The oldest known sketch of the building dates back to around 1800 and was created by the castle architect Johann David Bantelmann. At that time, the chandelier was already adorned with a high-breaking tent, while its facade boasted rusted corner patches and a profiled cornice beneath the roof eaves. Windows and doors were decorated with simple plasterwork. The entrance to the building was situated on the palace's facade, while the opposite front featured three windows. Similarly, three windows adorned the side facing Weizenberg Street, with two more on the opposite wall, totalling nine windows in the house. The interior of the house was divided into three rooms.
During its early days, the chandelier did not have a heating system as it served solely as a summer retreat for those enjoying walks in the park and on the beach. This historical insight adds to the allure of I-Lustla, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the architectural and leisure aspects of Kadriorg Park's past.
The Swan Pond is the most illustrious among the ponds in Kadriorg Park. Originally known as the Lower Pond, its history can be traced back to the plans of Kadriorg Park as early as 1723. In 1741, an islet adorned with a pavilion and several trees was designed at the pond's centre, enhancing its picturesque allure.
During the early 20th century, the pond's surroundings were developed with various structures. Notably, a wooden villa housing the renowned café-restaurant Kontsertaed stood where the F. R. Kreutzwald statue now stands. In winter, the pond would become a favourite destination for ice-skating enthusiasts, who would glide gracefully under the shimmering glow of streetlights.
In the mid-1930s, a renovation project transformed the area surrounding the pond. Dilapidated restaurant buildings were dismantled, making way for verdant lawns, beautiful flower beds, and charming hedges. During this period, the pond acquired its current name, the Swan Pond, owing to the presence of swans who made it their seasonal abode. In addition, fountains were erected within the pond, while a pillared bandstand, designed by Villem Seidra, adorned the islet.
In 1937, on the south bank of the pond, a sundial and meticulously crafted flower beds inspired by traditional Estonian ethnic patterns were installed, further enhancing the enchanting ambience.
Today, the Swan Pond stands as a captivating centrepiece within Kadriorg Park, inviting visitors to revel in the tranquillity of its waters and the natural beauty.
[PhotoBy Aulo Aasmaa](https://web.archive.org/web/20161023190651/http://www.panoramio.com/photo/62731179, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54442634)