We spent a day at sea between our ports of call in Germany and Estonia. Tallinn is the capital city and the country’s cultural hub. Estonia was part of the former U.S.S.R. but declared independence August 20, 1991. The nation is located across the strait from Finland and its very strong ties to that country helped create a firm foundation for stability.
At the top of a steep-sloped hill called Toompea, the Danes built a castle in 1219. Nothing remains of the original fortress, but the Knights of the Sword rebuilt the structure in the 13th century and some of their towers still stand. Some of them were damaged during a Swedish raid in the 16th century but are nevertheless impressive structures.
Across the square from the Parliament building is Alexander Nevsky Cathederal, a Russian Orthodox Church that is 120 years old. St. Mary’s Church (below), known to the Estonians as their beloved Toom Kirik (Dome Church) is the country’s oldest cathedral. Still in use, parts of the Lutheran church date from 1219. There are over 100 intricately carved coats-of-arms on the walls of the sanctuary.
We walked back down the hill into Old Town. We also took a look inside St. Nicholas Church. Our guide told us about the St. Olva Hotel. It is built of micro-concrete they say. Every Soviet official coming to Tallinn during the years Estonia was part of the USSR had to stay at the St. Olav. There were microphones everywhere, embedded in the concrete so every conversations could be recored and listened too. After Estonia declared independence all of the microphones were removed. The upper floors of the building now house the KGB Museum. In our wanderings around town we came across part of the massive 16th century Fat Margaret Tower that was built for protection. It has been restored several times and currently houses the Estonian Maritime Museum. Our next port-of-call, where we would spend two days was St. Petersburg, Russia.