This morning we left Riga at 9am and had morning tea at Estonian border. We could see the Baltic Sea from Latvia. We stopped at Port Artur and saw the lively historical seaside town of Parnu. We had a stroll on the sandy beach before stopping for lunch in the local shopping centre. We continued on our coach to Tallin arriving at 3pm. We stayed at the Kreutzwald Hotel for the next two nights. After checking in, Sandy, Martin, Pete and I headed out on foot to Old Town Tallinn. We entered Old Town through Freedom Square. The square is bounded on the east by St. John's Church, on the south by Kaarli Boulevard and an underground shopping center, and on the west by a Victory Column commemorating the Estonian War of Independence 1918-1920. We saw the Museum of Occupation. Then onto the Maidens Tower which has an interesting history. In the past, prostitution was illegal in Estonia, so prostitutes that were caught were jailed in this tower in the 14th Century. This prison was later renamed the ironic name Maiden Tower by the locals living in the area. Many people in Tallinn believe that the Maiden Tower is haunted by the spirits of the young women who were once imprisoned in it.
We passed Danish Kings garden. According to an old legend, this is the spot where a flag descended from the sky during Danish invasion; this flag turned the course of the battle in favour of King Valdemar II. Later, the flag became the national flag of Denmark.
St. Alexander Kevsky Cathedral is an orthodox cathedral built in a typical Russian Revival style between 1894 and 1900, during the period when the country was part of the Russian Empire. It is Tallinn's largest and grandest orthodox cupola cathedral dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky who in 1242 won the Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipus, in the territorial waters of present-day Estonia. The late Russian patriarch, Alexis II, started his priestly ministry in the church.On top of the hill is Toompea Castle. The castle, an ancient stronghold site in use since at least the 9th century, today houses the Parliament of Estonia. Tall Hermans Tower is the defensive tower standing at the south-western corner of Toompea Castle built in 1371. It obtained its current height (45.6 m) and shape in the late 15th century. There were viewing platforms here with spectacular views of Old Town. The Dome Church also known as the Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin, sits on Toompea Hill. Despite the name, the church does not feature a dome: the name is in fact a corruption of the Estonian word toom, which means cathedral. The church was founded in 1233 and rebuilt repeatedly, which has left it with a mix of architectural styles. Its vaulted main body dates from the 15th century, while its Baroque tower was added in 1779.
Historically, the Dome Church was a burial ground for the elite and the interior walls are decorated with the coats-of-arms of Estonia's noble families. As you approach the altar, you will see the finest carved tombs on the right, including that of the 16th-century Swedish commander, Pontus de la Gardie, who led Swedish forces during the Great Northern War, and the marble Greek temple-style sarcophagus of the 18th-century Scottish-born Admiral Samuel Greigh, who joined the Russian navy and became a hero of Russo-Turkish sea battles - and was also rumored to be Catherine the Great's lover. A large slab of stone dedicated to Otto Johann Thuve lies just inside the entrance. Thuve, sometimes referred to as "Tallinn's Don Juan", was a notorious drinker and womanizer, who requested burial at the church's threshold so that churchgoers, as they kneeled to pray, might save his soul. Next stop was the Nigulistee Museum which was located in St Nicholas Church. This church built in the 13th century is one of the few museums located in a sacral building. We walked through Masters Courtyard which is one of the most medieval looking alleys in the whole of Tallinn, complete with giant old tombstones hanging on the walls. Then through St Catherines Passage which is one of the prettiest little walkways in all of Old Town, the medieval St. Catherine's passage connects Vene and Müürivahe streets. We saw the City Museum and the Great Guild Hall. Next stop was The Great Coastal Gate & Fat Margarets Tower were built to protect the city from the seaside, but also to impress quests arriving by sea. The Great Coastal Gate (built at the same time with the city wall) is located in the northern part of the Old Town near the port. In the 16th century, during the reconstruction of the gate, the Fat Margaret's artillery tower was built nearby. Today, the Fat Margaret houses Estonian Maritime Museum. We made our way down to St Olavs Church which is the city's biggest medieval structure, took its name from the sainted Norwegian king Olav II Haraldsson. The church was first mentioned in 1267. It became one of the main churches in the Lower Town and formed its own congregation, which at first mostly comprised Scandinavian merchants and craftsmen and few Estonians. The evangelical preachings of the then chaplain of the church, Zacharias Hasse, led to the start of the reformation in Tallinn in 1523. We stopped in Town Hall Square as there was a Russian dance group performing. There was music, singing and dancing, great atmosphere. We had dinner at an Irish Pub and then made our way back to our hotel.