Tallinn HistoryTallinn (recent historical name: Reval) is the capital city and main seaport of Estonia. It is located on Estonia's north coast to the Gulf of Finland, 80 kilometres south of Helsinki.
EtymologyThe origin of the name "Tallinn(a)" is certain to be Estonian, although the original meaning of the name is debated. It is usually thought to be derived from "Taani-linn(a)" (meaning "Danish-castle/town"; Latin: Castrum Danorum). However, it could also have come from "tali-linna" ("winter-castle/town"), or "talu-linna" ("house/farmstead-castle/town"). The element -linna, like German -burg and Slavic -grad originally meant "castle" but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names.
Tallinna replaced the previously used official German name Reval (help·info) (Russian: Ðåâåëü) in 1918, when Estonia became independent. In the early 1920s the official spelling of the city name was changed from Tallinna to Tallinn, making the new name notable since Estonian-language place names generally end with a vowel (denoting genitive case). However, somewhat confusingly to non-Estonian speakers, the word Tallinna still appears in modern Tallinn as the -a suffix can denote the genitive case (thus Tallinna Lennujaam translates literally as Tallinn's Airport).
Historical namesThe German and Swedish name Reval (Latin: Revalia, earlier Swedish language: Raffle) originated from the 13th century Estonian name of the adjacent Estonian county of Ravala. Other known ancient historical names of Tallinn include variations of Estonian Lindanise (see Battle of Lyndanisse), such as Lyndanisse in Danish, Lindanas in Swedish, and Ledenets in Old East Slavic. Kesoniemi in Finnish and Kolyvan (Êîëûâàíü) in Old East Slavic are also other historical names.
GeographyTallinn is situated on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, in north central Estonia.
The largest lake in Tallinn is Lake Ulemiste (covers 9.6 km?). It is the main source of the city's drinking water. Lake Harku is the second largest lake within the borders of Tallinn and its area is 1.6 km?. Unlike many other large towns, the only significant river in Tallinn is located in Pirita (a city district counted as a suburb). The river valley is a protected area because of its natural beauty.
A limestone cliff runs through the city. It is exposed, for instance, at Toompea and Lasnamae. However, Toompea is not a part of the cliff, but a separate hill.
The highest point of Tallinn, at 64 meters above the sea level, is situated in the district of Nomme, in the south-west of the city.
The length of the coastline is 46 kilometres. It comprises 3 bigger peninsulas: Kopli peninsula, Paljassaare peninsula and Kakumae peninsula.
HistoryThe southern coast of the Gulf of Finland is thought to have been settled by Finnic-speaking tribes already in the 2nd millennium BC.
In 1154 Tallinn was marked on the world map of the Arab cartographer al-Idrisi.
As an important port for trade between Russia and Scandinavia, it became a target for the expansion of the Teutonic Knights and Kingdom of Denmark during the period of Northern Crusades in the beginning of the 13th century when Christianity was forcibly imposed on the local population. Danish rule of Tallinn and Northern Estonia started in 1219.
In 1285 the city became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League - a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Tallinn along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Order in 1345. Medieval Tallinn enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. The city, with a population of 8,000, was very well fortified with city walls and 66 defence towers.
The historical Old TownWith the start of the Protestant Reformation the German influence became even stronger. In 1561 Tallinn politically became a dominion of Sweden.
During the Great Northern War the Swedish troops based in Tallinn capitulated to Imperial Russia in 1710, but the local Baltic German rulers retained their cultural and economical autonomy within Tsarist Russia. The 19th century brought industrialization of the city and the port kept its importance. During the last decades of the century Russification pressure became stronger.
On 24 February 1918 the Independence Manifesto was proclaimed in Tallinn, followed by German occupation and a war of independence with Russia. On 2 February 1920 the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed with Soviet Russia, wherein Russia acknowledged the independence of the Estonian Republic. Tallinn became the capital of the independent Estonia. After World War II started Estonia was annexed by the USSR as a result of coup with help of the Red Army in 1940-41, and later invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941-44. After Nazi retreat in 1944, it was occupied by the USSR again. After the annexion into the Soviet Union, Tallinn became the capital of the Estonian SSR.
During the 1980 Summer Olympics a regatta was held at Pirita, north-east of central Tallinn. Many buildings, like the hotel "Olumpia", the new Main Post Office building, and the Regatta Center, were built for the Olympics.
In August 1991 an independent democratic Estonian state was re-established and a period of quick development to a modern European capital ensued. Tallinn became de-facto capital of a independent country once again on August 20, 1991.
* the Toompea (Domberg) or "Cathedral Hill", which was the seat of the central authority, first the ruling bishops, then the Teutonic Order, then the Baltic German nobility; it is today the seat of the Estonian government and many embassies and residencies.
* the Old Town, which is the old Hanseatic town, the "city of the citizens" - this was not administratively united with the Hill until the late 19th century. It was the centre of the medieval trade on which it grew prosperous.
* the Estonian town forms a crescent to the south of the Old Town, where the Estonians came to settle. It was not until the mid-19th century that ethnic Estonians replaced the local Baltic Germans as the majority amongst the residents of Tallinn.
Historically, the city has been attacked, sacked, razed and pillaged on numerous occasions. Although extensively bombed by Soviet air forces during the latter stages of World War II, much of the medieval Old Town still retains its charm. The Tallinn Old Town (including Toompea) became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.
At the end of the 15th century a new 159 m high Gothic spire was built for St. Olav's Church. Between 1549 and 1625 it was the tallest building in the world. After several fires and following rebuilding, its overall height is now 123 m.