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During my time in Tallinn, I stayed at two hotels. The first one was more in the main part of the city centre but the hotel I stayed in after going to Finland and coming back was a close walk from Old Town. Until my sister and started walking the first morning from our hotel, we didn't even really realise that there were two completely different parts to the city. After walking around the modern part, we were a bit disappointed that there wasn't more to see and learn about the history of Estonia and the city - how very wrong we were.
You know immediately as you enter Old Town. We came in from the side where Toompea Hill is and this was obviously the first thing we saw mainly because you can't miss it. The hill is home to a castle, a Russian cathedral and many, many souvenir shops. As you walk up the hill, you realise that you are being taken back to a different time completely and slowly begin to notice all of the cobbled streets and to see just how small and narrow the streets are. I really enjoyed looking around all of the little shops and discovering what items they had on offer while taking in the stunning views of the city from the top of the hill.
This part of the city was built up between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries so you can expect to see many gothic spires looking up and many churches along your adventure. At the north end of Pikk Street you will find the Great Coastal Gate and Fat Margaret Tower. These were built not only defend that side of the city but also to impress anyone coming into the harbour. These are a stunning sight to see and something worth making the trip for. I love going to see anything old and so historic like this and they really tell a story of how Tallinn used to be.
As we came into Old Town from Toompea Hill end, we worked our way down the steep streets and into the main part of Old Town. In the middle of Old Town is the square where you can find Town Hall nearby as well as the Tallinn City Museum which was extremely interesting (and cheap to look around). In the museum, you can find out all about Tallinn and Estonia's past. Some of the things that interested me the most here were religion, art and the difference between how the rich and poor lived. The museum has a room full of items from a royal family from clothes to jewellery. As well as all of this, this museum has a massive weapons room in the lower levels which was probably my favourite part. Being able to see a range of weapons from swords to guns to bombs over time was a bit surreal to me and it really made me think about how battles and wars were fought in the past.
Going further down into Old Town, quite far to the bottom, you will find the castle and Towers Square. This castle began as a wooden fort that was built in the ninth century and was later knocked down and developed by the Danes in the thirteenth century. Toompea Castle is now used for the parliament in Tallinn but is still an amazing building. Towers Square is exactly what you think it might be. These towers and the walls that accompany them were once used to keep this part of the city safe from invaders. The walls are home to a number of towers which look very much like something from a fairytale and I have never seen so many in one place before. The actual square is now a communal park which hosts various flower shows throughout the year which are wonderful to walk around and explore.
Obviously, in the heart of Old Town are many restaurants and shops. Although I didn't do much shopping here, it was still nice to look around and to see what was on offer. I also didn't eat in Old Town which I now really regret. Most of the restaurants are very authentic to Estonia and surrounding countries and you will definitely not find a McDonalds anywhere too close by. Everything in Old Town stays true to the name of the area and it really is like being somewhere else entirely - a stark contrast to the main part of the city. There is so much to do in Old Town and so many interesting places to visit while you're there. I am so glad we changed hotel for our second time in Tallinn or we may never have found this treasure of a place.