Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia.
Satellite image of Tallinn
occupies a surface of in which 406,341 inhabitants live.
situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the
Finland, south of Helsinki.
In 1154 a town called Qlwn
derivations of Kalevan
) was put on the
world map of the Almoravid
it as a small town like a large castle
among the towns of
. It has been suggested that the Quwri in
may have denoted the predecessor town of today's
The earliest names of Tallinn include Kolyvan
( ) known
from East Slavic chronicles, the name possibly deriving from the
Estonian mythical hero Kalev
Up to the 13th century the Scandinavians and Henry of Livonia
in his chronicle called
the town Lindanisa: Lyndanisse
in Swedish, also
mentioned as Ledenets
in Old East Slavic
. According to some
theories the named derived from mythical Linda, the wife of Kalev
and the mother of Kalevipoeg. who in an
Estonian legend carried rocks to her husband's grave that formed
the Toompea hill.
It has been also suggested that in the context the
meaning of linda
in the archaic Estonian language, that is
similar to lidna
had the same meaning as linna
meaning a castle or town in English. According to the suggestion
would have had the same meaning as niemi
in English) in an old
Finnish form of the name Kesoniemi
Other than Kesoniemi
known ancient historical names of
Tallinn in Finnish
After the Danish conquest in 1219 the town became known in the
languages as Reval ( ). The name
originated from (Latin) Revelia
, the adjacent ancient
name of the surrounding Estonian county.
The origin of the name "Tallinn(a)" is certain to be Estonian
, although the original meaning of
the name is debated. It is usually thought to be derived from
"Taani-linn(a)" (meaning "Danish-castle/town"; Latin: Castrum Danorum) after the Danes built the castle in place of the
Estonian stronghold at Lindanisse.
However, it could also
have come from "tali-linna
" ("winter-castle/town"), or
" ("house/farmstead-castle/town"). The element
, like Germanic
and Slavic -grad
, originally meant "fortress" but is used as
a suffix in the formation of town names.
The previously used official German name ( ) was replaced after
Estonia became independent in 1918–1920. At first both forms
were used. The United States Board on
adopted the form Tallinn
1923 and June 1927. The form Tallinna
appearing in modern
times in Estonian
of the name, as in
(Port of Tallinn
Other variations of modern spellings include
A form Tallin
deriving from the Romanization of Russian
the name Та́ллин
was also used internationally during the
era Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union.
Seal of Tallinn, 1340
The first traces of human settlement found in Tallinn's city center
by archeologists are about 5000 years old. The comb ceramic pottery
found on the site
dates to about 3000 BC and corded
c. 2500 BC.
the first fortress was built on Tallinn Toompea.
important port for trade between Russia and Scandinavia, it became a target for the
expansion of the Teutonic Knights
and the Kingdom of Denmark during the
period of Northern Crusades in the
beginning of the 13th century when Christianity was forcibly imposed on
the local population.
Danish rule of Tallinn and Northern
Estonia started in 1219.
In 1285 the city became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League
– a mercantile and
military alliance of German
in Northern Europe
. The Danes sold
Tallinn along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia
to the Teutonic Knights
Medieval Tallinn enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of
trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. The city,
with a population of 8,000, was very well fortified with city walls
and 66 defence towers.
A weather vane
, the figure of an old
warrior called Old Thomas
, was put on top
of the spire of the Tallinn's Town Hall in 1530 that became the
symbol for the city.
With the start of the Protestant
even stronger as the city was converted to Lutheranism
. In 1561 Tallinn politically became a dominion of Sweden.
Great Northern War the Swedish
troops based in Tallinn capitulated to Imperial Russia in 1710, but the local self-government institutions
(Magistracy of Reval and Chivalry of
Estonia) retained their cultural and economical autonomy within
Imperial Russia as the Duchy of
The Magistracy of Reval was abolished in 1889.
The 19th century brought industrialization of the city and the port
kept its importance. During the last decades of the century
February 1918, the Independence Manifesto was proclaimed in
Tallinn, followed by Imperial German occupation and a war of independence with
On 2 February 1920, the Tartu Peace
was signed with Soviet Russia, wherein Russia
acknowledged the independence of the Estonian Republic. Tallinn
became the capital of an independent Estonia. After World War II started, Estonia was occupied by
Union (USSR) in 1940, and later occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941–44.
retreat in 1944, it was occupied by the USSR again. After annexation into the Soviet
Union, Tallinn became the capital of the Estonian
During the 1980 Summer
, the sailing, then known as
events were held at Pirita, north-east of central
Tallinn. Many buildings, like the hotel "Olümpia", the new Main
Post Office building, and the Regatta Center, were built for the
In August 1991 an independent democratic Estonian state was
re-established and a period of quick development to a modern
European capital ensued. Tallinn became the capital of a de facto
independent country once again on August
Tallinn has historically consisted of three parts:
(Domberg) or "Cathedral Hill", which was the seat of the
central authority: first the Danish captains, then the komturs of the Teutonic Order, and Swedish and
Russian governors. It was until 1877 a separate town
(Dom zu Reval), the residence of the aristocracy; it is
today the seat of the Estonian government and many embassies and
- The Old Town, which is the old Hanseatic town, the "city of the citizens",
was not administratively united with Cathedral Hill until the late
19th century. It was the centre of the medieval trade on which it
- The Estonian town forms a crescent to the south of the Old
Town, where the Estonians came to settle.
It was not until the mid-19th century that ethnic Estonians
replaced the local Baltic Germans as
the majority amongst the residents of Tallinn.
Historically, the city has been attacked, sacked, razed and
pillaged on numerous occasions. Although extensively bombed by
Soviet air forces during the latter stages of World War II, much of
the medieval Old Town still retains its charm. The Tallinn Old Town
(including Toompea) became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in
end of the 15th century a new 159 m high Gothic spire was built for St. Olaf's
Between 1549 and 1625 it was the tallest church in the world
several fires and following rebuilding, its overall height is now
is situated on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, in north-western Estonia.
largest lake in Tallinn is Lake Ülemiste (covers 9.6 km²).
It is the main source of the
city's drinking water. Lake
Harku is the second largest lake within the borders of
Tallinn and its area is 1.6 km². Unlike many other
large towns, the only significant river in Tallinn is Pirita River (a city district counted as a suburb).
river valley is a protected area because of its natural beauty.
Historically, the small Härjapea
flew from Lake Ülemiste through the town into the sea,
but the river was diverted into sewage in 1930s and has since
completely disappeared from the cityscape.
A limestone cliff
runs through the city. It is exposed, for instance, at Toompea and
However, Toompea is not a part of the cliff, but a
highest point of Tallinn, at 64 meters above the sea level, is
situated in the district of Nõmme, in the
south-west of the city.
The length of the coastline
kilometres. It comprises 3 bigger peninsulas
: Kopli peninsula, Paljassaare peninsula
and Kakumäe peninsula.
For local government
Tallinn is subdivided into 8 administrative districts
( , singular linnaosa
district governments are city institutions that fulfill, in the
territory of their district, the functions assigned to them by
Each district government is managed by an Elder ( ). He or she is
appointed by the City Government on the nomination of the Mayor
and after having heard the opinion of the
Administrative Councils. The function of the Administrative
Councils is to recommend, to the City Government and Commissions of
the City Council, how the districts should be administered.
The registered population of Tallinn is 406,341 (as of November 1,
According to Eurostat
, in 2004 Tallinn had
the largest number of non-EU nationals of all EU member states'
capital cities. As of 2009 around 22% of its population are not EU
In addition to the native Estonian
(which is of the Finno-Ugric
group, closely related to
the Finnish language
are widely understood in
addition to longtime functions as seaport and capital city, Tallinn
has seen development of an information technology sector in
recent years; in its 13 December 2005, edition, The New York Times characterized
Estonia as "a sort of Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea." One of Tallinn's
sister cities is the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos,
is one of the
best-known of several Tallinn IT start-ups, and a first venture capital
firm was founded in 2005.
Many are housed in the Soviet-era Institute of Cybernetics
, which is
said to be one of the seeds for Estonian adoption of computing
technology. Despite this, the most important economic sectors of
Tallinn are the light, textile, and food industry, as well as the
service and government sector. There is a small fleet of ocean going-trawlers
that operate out
Tallinn is the location of many institutions of higher education
and science, including:
Since independence, improving air and sea transport links with
Western Europe and Estonia's accession to the European Union
have made Tallinn easily
accessible to tourists.
Estonia has made rapid economic progress since independence and
this is reflected in local prices. Although not extortionate,
neither are prices as cheap as in other former Eastern Bloc
attractions are in the two old towns (Lower Town and Toompea) which are
both easily explored on foot. Eastern districts
around Pirita and Kadriorg are also worth visiting and the Estonian
Open Air Museum (Eesti Vabaõhumuuseum) near Rocca al Mare,
west of the city, preserves aspects of Estonian rural culture and
St. Catherine's Passage
Toompea – Upper Town
This area was once a separate town (Dom zu Reval), the residence of
the Chivalry of Estonia
Roman Catholic bishops
of Tallinn (until 1561) and Lutheran
superintendents of Estonia, occupying
an easily defensible site overlooking the surrounding districts.
attractions are the walls and various bastions of Castrum
Danorum, the Russian
Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (built during the period of Russian Empire, the church was built on a site that formerly
housed a statue of Martin Luther) and the Lutheran Cathedral (Toomkirik) and the old
Estonian Royal Palace now the Parliament building.
All-Linn – Lower Town
Viru Gate, entrance to the Old
One of two remaining towers that were once part of a larger
gate system built in the 14th century
Part of Lower Town city wall
This area is one of the best preserved old towns in Europe and the
authorities are continuing its rehabilitation. Major sights include
Raekoja plats (Town Hall square), the town walls and towers
(notably "Fat Margaret" and "Kiek in de Kök") and St Olaf church tower (124 m).
This is 2 kilometres east of the centre and is served by buses and
trams. The former palace of Peter the
, built just after the Great
, now houses (part of) the Art Museum of Estonia,
presidential residence and the surrounding grounds include formal
gardens and woodland. Restored 2001–2004 with a large donation from
the Swedish Government
residence of the Art Museum of Estonia: KUMU
(Kunstimuuseum, Art Museum) was built several years
This coastal district is a further 2 kilometres north-east of
Kadriorg. The marina was built for the Moscow Olympics of 1980, and
boats can be hired on the Pirita river. Two kilometres inland
are the Botanic Gardens and the Tallinn television tower.
The port of Tallinn, seen from the
tower of the St. Olaf's Church
The city operates a system of bus
(4 lines) and trolley-bus
(8 lines) routes to all districts. A
flat-fare system is used. Payment is made either by pre-purchase of
tickets at street-side kiosks or by a purchase from the transport
Tallinn Airport is about four kilometres from Raekoja plats (Town
There is a local bus connection between the
airport and the edge of the city centre (bus no. 2). The nearest railway
station Ülemiste is only 1.5 km from the airport.
The construction of the new section of the airport began in 2007
and was finished in summer 2008.
been a helicopter service to and from
Helsinki operated by Copterline and taking 18 minutes to cross the Gulf of
Finland. The Copterline Tallinn terminal is located adjacent to Linnahall, five minutes from the city center.
crash near Tallinn in August 2005, service was suspended but restarted
in 2008 with a new fleet.
The operator cancelled it again in
December 2008, on grounds of unprofitability.
Rail and road
Edelaraudtee railway company operates train services from
Tallinn to Tartu, Valga, Türi, Viljandi, Tapa, Narva, Orava, and
also available to all these and various other destinations in
Estonia, as well as to Saint Petersburg in Russia and Riga in Latvia.
Rail company operates a daily international sleeper
train service between Tallinn-Moscow.
also has a commuter rail service running from Tallinn's main rail station in two main directions: east (Aegviidu) and to several western destinations (Pääsküla, Keila, Riisipere, Paldiski, Klooga and
Kloogaranna). These are electrified
lines and are used by the Elektriraudtee railroad company.
The trains are a mixture
of modernised older Soviet EMU's and newly built units. The first
electrified train service in Tallinn was opened in 1924 from
Tallinn to Pääsküla, a distance of 11.2 kilometres.
The Rail Baltica
project, which will
link Tallinn with Warsaw via Latvia and Lithuania, will connect
Tallinn with the rest of the European rail network. A tunnel
has been proposed between
Tallinn and Helsinki, though it remains at a planning phase.
Via Baltica motorway (part of European route E67 from Helsinki to Prague) connects
Tallinn to the Lithuanian/Polish border
Frequent and affordable long-distance bus routes connect Tallinn
with other parts of Estonia.
ferry operators, Viking Line, Linda Line Express, Tallink and Eckerö Line,
connect Tallinn to
popular passenger lines connect Tallinn to Helsinki (83 kilometres north of Tallinn) in approximately
90 minutes by fast ferries or 2–3.5
hours by cruiseferries.
- See also: Ports of the
Former ferry operators SuperSeaCat
"Nordic Jet Line
bankruptcy in October 2008.
Twin towns – sister cities
Tallinn participates in international town
schemes to foster good international relations.
References and notes