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Tallinn History, Estonia

The capital of one of the most beautiful Baltic countries, Estonia, Tallinn is located 50 km from Helsinki. This opportune location, as well as the tourist attractions of the city, brings in millions of visitors every year. Despite its rich and tormented history, Tallinn is nowadays an amazing city that combines both the charm of the past and exciting modern elements. The city’s lively student population accounts for a great nightlife, and intriguing sights and architecture make it a perfect holiday spot. The cobbled streets of Toompea, the old district, are steeped in history and culture, and are a living proof of Tallinn’s past. This Tallinn History Guide offers a brief review of the major historical events that shaped Tallinn into the delightful city it is today.

Tallinn History - Antiquity and Middle Ages

Tallinn’s beginnings go back 5000 years ago. Archaeologist discovered traces of the people who settled in the area in the ancient times. Toompea, the historical centre of the city, is thought to have been founded much later though, in 1050 AD, when the first fortress was built. Tallinn soon became a hub for trade between the Russian and Scandinavian populations, and it also became subjected to the growing influence of the Teutonic Knights. In 13th century, Christianity was introduced into the forming country through the Northern Crusade. By this time, Tallinn was already a flourishing medieval port city, as proved by its mentioning on Arab maps. The city’s trade benefited by the arrival in the 14th century of German merchants, who helped to further develop trade. Many of the city’s current landmarks, such as Oleviste Church, were built around this time. Tallinn was one of the best fortified cities on the continent, and it was a major trade centre. However, in the later Middle Ages, it became the proverbial bone of contention between the surrounding countries, such as Russia, Denmark and Sweden, which all wanted control over the port. In the 17th century, a fire destroyed much of the Old District, but the Dome Church was miraculously spared. This Tallinn History Guide recommends that you visit the medieval landmarks of the city to gain more detailed knowledge of their history.

Tallinn History - Modern Times

Although beginning with the 17th century Estonia was passed from one sphere of influence to another. In 1918, the country proclaimed its independence through the Independence Manifesto presented at Tallinn. This prompted a German invasion and a war with Russia, but in 1920, Estonia finally became an independent republic. This was not the end of the series of invasions suffered by Estonia, because with the outbreak of WWII, the country was first occupied by Soviet forces, hence becoming part of the USSR, and in 1941 it was invaded by Nazi Germany. The Soviets conquered Estonia again in 1944, and kept it under their rule for almost half a century. Tallinn became the capital of Soviet Estonia, until 1991, when the country finally broke free from foreign rule and became a democratic republic. Spared from the influence of other nations, Tallinn soon became the prosperous European capital that it is today, full of restaurants, hotels and cafes ready to receive millions of tourists every year.

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