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Toompea (Tallinn, Estonia)

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Hill in central Tallinn, Estonia.

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      29.03.2012 17:46
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      A great place to discover

      Toompea Hill was not exactly a point of interest to me when I visited Tallinn. However, it is pretty hard to miss when you are walking around Old Town and it was on the way from our hotel. As you approach the hill, it is hard to not have your breath taken away by the medieval buildings. Just looking at what there is on this hill transports you back to a completely different time. The hill itself is situated in the western part of the city and can be seen from pretty much anywhere.

      The main thing I saw while looking up Toompea from the bottom was the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which was something that I wanted to go and see anyway. The cathedral was built during the very late 1800s when the Russian Empire had control over Estonia. Since the day it opened, the cathedral has always been used as an orthodox cathedral and it is still used for that purpose today. When the building was put up though, the Estonian people showed a huge dislike to it as it showed how the Russian's had power over them. Although used for services, you can still enter the cathedral but be warned to dress appropriately. With its onion domes, paintings and amazing colours, this cathedral is a must see when upon Toompea Hill.

      Not only does this hill have an utterly stunning cathedral to see but it also has Toompea Castle. Unlike the cathedral though, the castle was built by the locals but was taken over in later years. Outside of the castle, in the warmer months, you can learn archery which I thought was something really fun and interesting. The castle dates back to the 12th century so if history is your thing then there is a lot for you to see and learn here. If this is what you're interested in, you might like to go on a tour of the castle which are available between 10am and 4pm with very knowledgeable guides showing you around. The castle's gardens are also open and they're a really nice, peaceful place to sit in the sun.

      These are not the only things to do on Toompea Hill though. The cobbled streets and windy, narrow roads are the perfect place to go shopping believe it or not. You can't get the latest fashions etc. here but you can get some really nice authentic Estonian items. Toompea Hill has many gift shops but some of them aren't tacky and cheap like some of the ones that are in the main part of the city. Something that I was surprised to see was the mix of Estonian items as well as Russian dolls in a few of the shops. Considering the feelings towards the Russian cathedral, I wasn't expecting to see anything like this at all.

      Without a map, it is very easy to get lost on Toompea Hill and sometimes even with a map as the streets are small and extremely confusing. However, I loved getting lost and finding all kinds of different shops. Luckily though, you can just head downhill if you want to get back to the main part of Old Town. While we were exploring the hill, there were many tours going on so we kind of followed these at times to see what kinds of things they were being shown. In other words, we half gate crashed a tour that had probably been paid for. We were good enough to hang quite far back though so no one really realised.

      While this is not the most exciting part of Tallinn, it is certainly a place with plenty to do and see and my trip here was very interesting. I think this is a must if you are visiting the city.

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