Fat Margarete and Tall Hermann

Tallinn in Winter

(Zum deutschen Beitrag.) Gebeco, a German tour operator, specialized in study trips, invited me and a couple of other colleagues from different offices to visit Tallinn and Riga in winter time.

Lobby bar in the "von Stackelberg" hotel
Lobby bar in the “von Stackelberg” hotel

Our hotel in Tallinn is the “von Stackelberg”. After leaving it for our tour through Tallinn, the first one who greets us is the “Tall Hermann”. Who is this? It´s not a man but a very tall donjon at the southwesterly side of the castle Toompea. It really is a tall tower that is situated on the hill, overlooking the city and the surroundings. At sunrise the Estonian flag gets hoisted up here and at sunset they take it down again. For more than 600 years people have a great view over the country form here. In former times it was important to see coming enemies as early as possible.

Tall Hermann
Tall Hermann

I´ve been to Tallinn a couple of times before, but always in summer. But also in winter this city has a lot of flair. Tallinn´s houses always remind me of other hanseatic cities like Lübeck in Northern Germany or Lüneburg, my hometown. In Tallinn all the houses in the old city are still surrounded by a city wall with many watch towers.

Alexander-Newski-Cathedral
Alexander-Newski-Cathedral

We walk on to the Russian-Orthodox Church, the Alexander-Newski-Cathedral. I never had a chance to get a glimpse into it, so I am really happy that it is open for the public today. In the inside it looks a lot alike the Greek-Orthodox Churches that I recently visited in Cyprus. Gold glitters from the iconostasis, which separates the believers from the sanctum behind.

Trin, our tour guide walks on. She tells us a lot of interesting things about the history of the town; also many things about the things that happened in the last few years after Estonia got its autonomy. Since then the cityscape changes continuously. At the outskirts many new houses were built and most of the old houses in the city center were renovated and refurbished.

Inside the Holy Ghost Church, with a manger
Inside the Dome Church, with a manger

We walk to the next church, the Dome Church. We have to wait a bit, as school kids celebrate a school mass. It looks nice when they get off the church. All of them wearing their special school uniforms. They produced real het in the church and we are quite happy about that. Outside it is kind of wet and cold. The Estonians are waiting that winter comes to do cross country skiing or other winter sports; but until now there is no snow, the temperature still slightly above freezing point.

In the dome we see a lot of escutcheons, donated by the mostly German-Baltic aristocratic families that lived here in former times. Quite a few German tourists find their blazon in here.

Escutcheons
Escutcheons

And again we have to go back into the cold. Only a short walk away is an amazing view point, overlooking the city. We can watch some ferries that come from Finland. On some summer  days the whole port is full with cruise ships and the foreign tourists crowd the streets.

View over Tallinn
View over Tallinn

It is so nice that only few tourists are here at the moment. Anyway we hear a lot of different languages, mostly German. Many people here are able to speak German and kids learn it in school. Again and again we see German inscriptions on the old houses. The German heritage and background are everywhere.

Well in front of the restaurant Rataskaevu 16
Well in front of the restaurant Rataskaevu 16

Lunchtime is coming and we are getting hungry. Where does Trin lead us? She guides us to a small and quaint restaurant, the Rataskaevu 16, next to the old well. Gebeco, the tour operator that invited us to this tour, has got a reservation here for us. Without one it would be difficult to get a table here, as the restaurant was voted one of the 50 best of 2015 in Estonia! The dishes are very tasty and country-style, so we get warm very fast.

Christmas market in front of the Town Hall
Christmas market in front of the Town Hall

We can´t stay too long, as we got an invitation to a Christmas concert in the Holy Ghost Church. We pass the Christmas market on the town hall square with lots of cute booths. The church has got wonderful carved wooden benches and balustrades. I admire the wooden art while I listen to the organ concert.

Gothic wooden carvings in the Holy Ghost Church
Gothic wooden carvings in the Holy Ghost Church

When we get out it´s getting dark, even it is not yet 4 pm. We walk through a women gild house and marvel at the small ateliers with their handicraft articles.

Old city of Tallinn
Old city of Tallinn

Outside we walk along the old and still intact city wall. In this small alley between the wall with its booths and the houses on the other side I feel a bit like walking along in the middle ages. Actually only some horse carriages and jugglers are missing to make the image perfect.

Many people are in the streets. The Christmas market is thought after and people are looking for Christmas presents in the small shops.

I am done for today and walk back to the hotel. Before dinner I would like to soak in my whirlpool bathtub that I am lucky to have in my room.

Dinner in the hotel is excellent and we enjoy the evening. Tomorrow we´ll drive into the country side. I am curious what we will find there!

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houses opposite of the Holy Ghost church
houses opposite of the Holy Ghost church

 

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