The membership of Estonian towns in the Hanseatic League of merchant guilds beginning in the 13th century brought the wealth and prosperity that built many of the country's most remarkable medieval structures.
The Middle Ages in Estonia
Until the Middle Ages, Estonia had been a relatively quiet corner of Europe inhabited by pagan tribes. It was not long until it's strategic location on northern trade routes brought the passage of goods like grains, salt and furs. The walled settlement Tallinn, then called Reval, was granted city rights in 1248 and soon after joined the Hanseatic League along with the nearby cities Tartu, Pärnu and Viljandi. The churches, defense towers and dwellings of Tallinn's Old Town were built during the following prosperous centuries.