Once a destination known only to the seasoned traveler, the European capital of Estonia is now enjoying its day in the sunlight. Thanks to the preserved architecture of medieval days gone by, the seaport is a UNESCO World Heritage site, making it a treasure trove of ancient churches, palaces, convents and medieval merchant’s guild houses. But don’t let its Old-World appeal fool you, the 1000-year-old city is decidedly cosmopolitan, filled with cutting-edge restaurants and a vibrant nightlife as well as a thriving financial center which contributes to its nickname “Silicon Valley of Europe.”
Located on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, Tallinn is one of Seven Seas Explorer’s most popular stops this summer. A variety of adventures are available for everyone – from art lovers and adventurists to history buffs and those who simply enjoy seeing a city on foot.
Kadriorg Palace and Tallinn Environs excursion offers a scenic sightseeing tour to Kadriog Park, the home of Tsar Peter the Great and his wife Empress Catherine l. Built in 1718 as a summer residence, the French Baroque style palace (which means Catherine’s Valley in German and Estonian) was also influenced by Italian palaces of the period. Today the well-preserved house houses the 16th – 20th-century art and porcelain collection of the Art Museum of Estonia and the vast 70- hectare grounds offer Versailles-inspired fountains, grottos, gardens and spectacular flower beds along the Swan Pond.
Art aficionados will also appreciate the private collection of Johannes Mikkel. Housed in the former kitchen building of the palace, Mikkel’s Museum features one of the largest collections of ceramics in Estonia, offering a historical look at the history of European porcelain art.
Those who are interested in history will enjoy a tour through Estonia’s Soviet Past which covers the country’s fight for freedom from Soviet oppression. A visit to the Forest Cemetery that houses Estonia’s first president, Konstantin Pats, a look at a KGB house, navigational exhibits and the TV Tower which serves as a memorial to the demonstrations in the early 1990s offer a varied look at the country’s storied and turbulent past. The tour concludes with a visit to the Estonian Museum of Occupation that depicts all aspects of life during the occupation from the 1800’s to early 20th century.
Adventure seekers can take in the beauty of Tallinn via a mountain bike through the country roads to the open-air museum of Rocca Al Mare on the Mountain Biking in Rural Estonia and Old Town tour. For those who want a less strenuous day, a walking tour of the sights of Old Town including the House of Great Guilds, Town Hall Square and the House of the Blackheads will be among your stops. Be sure to check out St. Olav’s Church which is one of the tallest buildings in Europe along with the 17th-century street clock at the Church of the Holy Spirit. And last but not least, shopping for treasures (Estonian sweaters and scarves in particular) is a must on Müürivahe Street.
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