Come to Tartu and see the famous kissing sculpture, meet the Tartu ghost (perhaps) and use it as a base for your South Estonia explorations.
Tartu is Estonia’s second largest city and also the oldest one in the Baltic States – first mentioned in 1030.
Tartu has always been the intellectual capital of Estonia. It is the cradle of the Estonian Song Festival, Estonian Theatre and the Estonian State. In the period Estonians call "The national awakening" Tartu was known as the Athens of the Emajõgi River ("Mother River") and until now the city has retained its intellectual and bohemian ambience.
Tartu University is one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe (founded in 1632) and has produced many eminent scientists and scholars of international repute such as Baltic German biologist Karl Ernst von Baer and famous Russian semiotician and culturologist Juri Lotman. Tartu still has a very large student population and the best time to meet them is in spring, where The Student Spring Days combine youthful exuberance with academic traditions.
Perhaps you will encounter the "Tartu Ghost" – a mysterious being that makes you spend too much time and come back to Tartu over and over again. Where does the Ghost live? Nobody knows, but you can feel its presence almost everywhere - in the city district Supilinn, ("Soup Town"), on Toome Hill, in the cosy little cafeterias and in the University. Local people also say that time flows slower in Tartu.
Decorated with terra cotta details, Tartu's St. John's church (Jaani kirik) is considered a prime example of European Gothic architecture. The nearby St. Anthony's Court (Antoniuse Õu) acts as a marketplace where Estonian craftsmen sell a range of goods from pottery to leather to cloth artwork.
Theatre performances, concerts, festivals, conferences happen all year round. Tartu is a hot bed of creative and scientific culture: with high quality promenade concerts, the Emajõgi River Summer theatre, the Hanseatic Days and various music events – you’ll never get bored. Tartu is also home to more than 20 museums.
Tartu is a city with something for everyone - families, intellectuals, backpackers, romantic couples, people interested in culture and art - you name it! There are always reasons to come back – not least to warm up your relationship with the Tartu Ghost.