The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







County Harju
Area 158 km²
Population 400,000 (12.08.2004)
Population Density 2530 per square km
Altitude 44 m above sea level
Postal Code 15080 (City Centre)
City Council Vana-Viru 12
15080 Tallinn
E-mail [email protected]
Mayor Tõnis Palts [1]
Map of Estonia

Tallinn in Estonia

The city of Tallinn is the capital city and main seaport of Estonia. It is located on Estonia's north coast to the Baltic Sea, 80 kilometres south of Helsinki.


Name "Tallinn"

Other historical names are Koluvan (Kolõvan, Kolyvan), Lindanise, Lindanisa (Lindanäs), and - as variations of "Reval" - Revalia, Revel and Reveln. The origin of the name "Tallinn" is debated, but it is certainly of Estonian origin; while it is usually thought to be derived from "Taani-linn" (meaning "Danish town"), it may also have come from "talu linn" (meaning "farming town"). The name Tallinn became official in 1918, when Estonia became independent. Previously the name Reval was used instead.


Tallinn has historically consisted of three parts:

  • the "Cathedral Hill", which was the seat of the central authority, first the ruling Bishops, then the Order, then the Baltic nobility; it is today the seat of the Estonian government and many embassies and residencies.
  • the Old Town, which is the old Hanseatic town, the "city of the citizens" - this was not administratively united with the Hill until the late 19th century. It was the centre of the medieval salt trade on which it grew prosperous.
  • the Estonian town forms a crescent to the south of the Old Town, where the Estonians came to settle. It was not until the mid to late 19th century that Estonians formed the majority of the citizens of Tallinn)

Historically, the city has been attacked, sacked, razed and pillaged on numerous occasions. Although extensively bombed during the latter stages of World War II, much of the mediaeval old town still retains its charm. Tallinn Old Town became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

At the end of the 15th century a new 159 meter high gothic tower was built for Saint Olaf's Church. This was then one of the highest towers in Europe and possibly the highest building in the world. After rebuilding, following a fire, the tower is 123 meters high.

In addition to the native Estonian language (which is of the Finno-Ugric group, closely related to the Finnish language), both Russian and English are widely understood.


Tallinn is the location of Tallinn University of Technology, as well as other institutions of higher education and science, including:


During the 1980 Summer Olympics a regatta was held in Tallinn. Many buildings like the Town Hall, Olympic Hotel, Post Office and Regatta Center were built for the olympics.

Tallinn's old town, looking towards port.
Tallinn's old town, looking towards port.


The population is about 500,400 (2000), registered 401,694 (march 2005).

Population development: 1816: 12,000
1834: 15,300
1851: 24,000
1881: 45,900
1897: 58,800
1925: 119,800
1989: 500,000+
2000: 340,000
2005: 401,694

According to Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, Tallinn is the city with the largest number of non-EU nationals: 27.8% of its population are not citizens/nationals of a European Union country.



Tallinn is served by an airport approximately 1 kilometre outside the city. In addition to regular airplane connections to a variety of European airports, there is an hourly helicopter service to Helsinki at 189 Euros one way, advertised as the fastest capital to capital link in the world. More modestly priced advance bookings for less than 50 Euros are available.

Ground Transport

There are train connections to several cities including Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Riga, Moscow, and Saint Petersburg. Buses are also available to these destinations, as well as to various other parts of Estonia.

Tallinn is crossed by Via Baltica motorway to Poland.


Several ferries connect Tallinn to

See Ports of the Baltic Sea


Tallinn is a major shopping center for Finns, who travel across the Gulf of Finland by high speed ferry. Owing to the extremely high consumption and alcohol taxes in Finland, prices can be substantially lower than in Helsinki, inducing many Finnish shoppers to make single day trips, especially for health goods not covered by the Finnish social services (such as eyeglasses).

For the tourist

The old town walled town is the place to go. This contains many authentic buildings of great antiquity. These are mostly well kept or undergoing restoration. As the town is a set of ring defenses built around a hill, be prepared to hike and walk. The antique cobblestone paths are rough but have been improved with cut granite sidewalks for safe walking. The tourist will pass through narrow approaches walled in for defensive purposes. For those ones who wish to stay more than just a day there are numerous hotels, but for a home away from home try furnished apartments. They are more reasonably priced than a hotel.


The main shopping attraction is the numerous shops carrying high quality knitwear. Prices will vary, with stalls just inside the city wall offering the best values, with a better selection of higher quality goods available in the numerous small shops around town. Some of these are located in the basements of buildings on minor streets.


For dining in the old walled town there is a medieval alehouse that serves boar, elk and bear under authentic conditions - the only artificial light is candlelight. Many, however, feel that there is a Disneyesque, kitsch feeling about "ye olde Hansa" restaurants. The quality of restaurants varies, but superb fine dining on the European level - with prices in the range of $ 100 for a complete menu - includes the 1930s-style Gloria, the French-Estonian Bonaparte, and the hip and chique Pegasus that is also famous for its stand-up urinals in the Ladies Room.


A walking trip through old town past the City Hall and up the Toompea hill past several churches will lead to the seat of the Estonian government , high atop Tallinn's central hill. Around the hill are views of both the old town within the walls and the modern urban area.


The largest lake in Tallinn is Lake Ülemiste. It is the main source of the city's drinking water.

A limestone cliff runs through the city. It is exposed, for instance, at Toompea and Lasnamäe.

See also

External links

Last updated: 05-07-2005 04:51:26
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04