The Old Town

The winding, cobbled streets of Tallinn's historic centre are the focus for most visitors to the city and the hub of the major tourist attractions, which can all be enjoyed on a walking tour. The walled old town is divided into two parts: Toompea Hill was the residential area of the aristocracy and gentry in days of yore, while the Lower Town operated independently. The Old Town, much of it dating from the 11th century, is extremely well preserved and complete, its powerful defensive stone buildings having ensured that it was not destroyed despite frequent invasions over the centuries.

Visitors revel in Town Hall Square, ringed by the beautiful Town Hall and its adjacent pharmacy, which is still operating on the site it has occupied since 1422. The Old Town is also full of churches, like St Olav's, which was the tallest church in Medieval Europe, dating from the early 13th century. The old town walls and its many fortresses made up one of the strongest defence systems in northern Europe by the 16th century. The dominating landmark on Toompea is the magnificent Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral. The medieval atmosphere is particularly evident in St Catherine's passage, between Vene and Muurivahe Streets, where visitors can stroll past the open studios of artists and craftsmen who have laboured here for centuries.

Address: Tourist Information Centre, Niguliste 2/Kullassepa 4, in the centre of the Old Town

Telephone: 645 7777

Admission: A Tallinn Tourist Card provides free admission to the museums and sights, free use of public transport and free tours; available for 6, 24, 48 and 72 hours (from KR130 to KR450)