The City of Tallinn is about 70 kilometers south of Helsinki. The city’s historic center is a maze of cobblestone streets, alleyways, and medieval houses. The lower town is still protected by remains of the ancient city wall nestled in a series of parks. The old town is very well preserved. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Today, the historic area is complemented by modern shops and luxurious hotels and restaurants.
The modern Port of Tallinn is a busy, shining cosmopolitan city of 400 thousand people with architectural styles reflecting ancient Europe, Soviet domination, and the modern era (including a McDonalds next to the city’s ancient walls).
The city’s major attraction is the 15th-17th Century Old City where visitors can stroll ancient streets through 14th Century gates to a 13th Century Danish castle. Outside Old City are the Museum of Occupations that documents conditions under the Nazis and the Soviets, the huge Tallinn Zoo, and the Kadriorg seaside resort district. The Kadriorg Palace was a Russian Imperial summer home for Tsar Peter the Great nestled in a 90-hectare park.
The Port of Tallinn’s Open Air Museum describes the difficult life of the tsarist period by preserving 72 buildings from the era in a dense forest. In the Pirita beach area, the Holy Birgitta Monastery celebrates Scandinavian female saints and is a landmark for 15th Century ruins and catacombs.
The Patarei Prison is perhaps the most undeveloped historic site in the Port of Tallinn. Built in about 1840, the prison was closed in 2004. Today, visitors can learn about the single cells, torture cells, prison meals, and executions.
North west of the Port of Tallinn’s Old City, 14th Century Kalamaja is the city’s oldest suburb, probably home to fishermen. Most of the buildings there today are from the 19th Century.
The Pirita District houses forest parks, botanic gardens, and a graveyard for the best-known Estonians. The yachting portions of the Moscow Olympic Games were held in Pirita. It has a beautiful beach that’s crowded in the summer.
The Port of Tallinn is a popular travel destination with many attractions that visitors will enjoy. To find a long list of scheduled cruises, visit the Cruise Compete website.