Tallinn, Estonia: A Medieval Jewel in the Baltic Crown


If you enjoy Medieval architecture, all it takes is a view through the City Gate into Old Town Tallinn, Estonia to realize what a treat lies ahead.

There are delightful Medieval villages all over Europe, but the state of preservation and the feel of Tallinn’s old town make it one of the jewels in the crown. Its narrow, twisting cobblestone streets are lined with 15th-17th Century homes, churches, guild houses, and a huge town hall.


 At its peak, Tallinn was a veritable boomtown. Given its position on the Baltic Sea, it was a natural way station for goods moving east and west. German, Swedish, and Danish traders set up shop, and built homes that also served as offices, and warehouses. This merchant’s home/business was built in 1515, and the double loft doors and booms are conspicuous signs of a successful tradesman.


 The Middle Ages weren’t a peaceful time, and each village was responsible for its own protection. With large, powerful neighbors like Germany and Russia, Tallinn was particularly vulnerable to invaders, so a formidable, 46-tower wall was built to enclose the entire city.


The old village is a wanderer’s dream. Put the map away and ramble down any street or alleyway, and there are movie-set backdrops. This is St. Catherine’s Lane, which couldn’t be more perfectly Medieval. Disney designers with an unlimited budget couldn’t come close to the wonderful Tallinn ambience.

Happy Trails,
James & Terri


Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

30 thoughts

    1. Peggy, we did a combo Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius trip and it was excellent. This makes an easy, interesting itinerary and all three have different characteristics: a nice trip. ~James

    1. Laura, try as I might, I have a hard time relating to a town with 400 years of history. That’s 20 generations, so you can imagine the number of people and stories that have come and gone in this city. ~James

  1. I think I was getting a wee dizzy looking up that tower! I wonder if the two of you have ever thought of doing a couple of posts on itineraries for trips your have taken. Such unique spots. Just a thought of course.

    1. We have considered an itinerary post Sue, and it’s a good idea. And the Baltic would be the perfect area. I enjoy reading these kinds of posts because I use the info when we travel. The only problem is that, done the way I would want to do them, they’re actually a lot of work to put together. Either you have to keep really good notes on the road, or do lots of research when you get home. However, it is a good idea, and thanks for motivating me to put it on my “blog ideas” list. ~James

      1. I hear what you are saying James. I am of a similar thought. Well I would be quite happy with a mini version of locations and three things not to miss while in a location. 🙂

    1. Thanks Susan. Like you, we were very impressed with Tallinn, both the historic area and the modern city. We had a nice little apartment right in the heart and it was perfect. ~James

    1. Sylvia, Tallinn is a tourist destination for sure, but it isn’t on lots of “most popular” lists, so it isn’t bombed with tourists. And the historic center is just as charming as it looks. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania make a wonderful and convenient trio for a visit to this part of the world. ~James

    1. I really enjoy the old Spanish towns as well Darlene. I particularly like the towns in the south of Spain. Given their Moorish influences, they have a delightful Mediterranean feel that’s totally different from the towns in northern Europe. ~James

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. Yes, both different and both interesting. I’ve spent time in India and Asia and really enjoy the architecture, but since I lived in Europe, I know much more about their Medieval buildings. But India has a long history and an equally complex story to tell. Your blog does a good job of telling its tale. ~James

    1. Susan, the sunshine was glorious. So glad that you got to enjoy Tallinn in good weather, too. We just thought it was an amazing city, and so charming. We’ve definitely been able to work in and enjoy so many parts of this world … fortunately with much more to go! 🙂 ~Terri

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