Estonia's medieval gems

Source: Mart Vares

Estonia's medieval gems

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.

Fortified city 

Tallinn joined the Hanseatic League of merchant guilds in 1285. City walls protected the growing settlement from foes. 

Photo by: Mart Vares 

Best preserved Old Town 

A step into Tallinn's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a step back in time. Experience the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe by visiting the Tallinn City Museum, climbing Toompea Castle and peeking inside Kiek in de Kök artillery tower, built in 1475. Walk over 100 metres in the air along the steeple of St. Olaf's church, said to have once been the world's tallest building.

Historic walkway

The cobblestone Viru street leads from downtown to the Town Hall Square flanked by many traditional restaurants. 

Photo by: Magnus Heinmets

Merchant life 

Medieval life in Tallinn centred around the Town Hall Square, where you can still find many historical attractions today. Enjoy a meal and house beer at Peppersack Restaurant, housed in a 14th century granary, or sip elk soup at the candlelit III Draakon Tavern. Drop by the Town Hall Pharmacy, open since 1422, the oldest in continually operation in Europe and stay at the lavish Three Sisters Hotel, a merchant's house since 1362. During June and July don't miss traditional festivals like Tallinn Old Town Days, Tallinn Medieval Days and Hansa Days in Tartu, Pärnu and Viljandi.

Last updated : 22.04.2021

In category: Tallinn, History & culture, Food & Drink & Nightlife