Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn
City

A collage of Tallinn showing a view from the sea, the Old Town and a night view of the downtown
Coat of arms
Tallinn
Tallinn

Coordinates: 59°26′14″N 24°44′43″E / 59.43722°N 24.74528°E / 59.43722; 24.74528Coordinates: 59°26′14″N 24°44′43″E / 59.43722°N 24.74528°E / 59.43722; 24.74528

Country  Estonia
County Harju County
First appeared on map 1154
Town rights 1248
Government
 • Mayor Edgar Savisaar (Centre Party)
Area
 • City 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi)
Elevation 9 m (30 ft)
Population (1 November 2013[2])
 • City 429 574
 • Metro 542,983[1]
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 15199
Area code(s) (+372) 64
Vehicle registration A-B
Website www.tallinn.ee

Tallinn (/ˈtɑːlɪn/ or /ˈtælɪn/,[3][4] Estonian pronunciation: [ˈtɑlʲˑinˑ]) is the capital and largest city of Estonia.

It occupies an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) with a population of 429 574.[2] It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, 80 km (50 mi) south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[5] It is ranked as a global city and has been listed among the top 10 digital cities in the world.[6] The city was a European Capital of Culture for 2011, along with Turku in Finland.

Tallinn is the oldest capital city in Northern Europe. The city was known as Reval from the 13th century until 1917[7] and again during the Nazi invasion of Estonia from 1941 to 1944.

Toponymy

Historical names

In 1154 a town called Qlwn[8] or Qalaven (possible derivations of Kalevan or Kolyvan)[9][10] was put on the world map of the Almoravid by the Muslim cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, who described it as a small town like a large castle among the towns of Astlanda. It has been suggested that the Quwri in Astlanda may have denoted the predecessor town of today's Tallinn.[11][12]


The earliest names of Tallinn include big red castle (Russian: Колывань) known from East Slavic chronicles, the name possibly deriving from the Estonian mythical hero Kalev.[13][14]

Up to the 13th century the Scandinavians and Henry of Livonia in his chronicle called the town Lindanisa: Lyndanisse in Danish,[15][16][17] Lindanäs in Swedish, also mentioned as Ledenets in Old East Slavic. According to some theories the name derived from mythical Linda, the wife of Kalev and the mother of Kalevipoeg.[18] who in an Estonian legend carried rocks to her husband's grave that formed the Toompea hill.[19]

It has been also suggested that in the context the meaning of linda in the archaic Estonian language, that is similar to lidna in Votic, had the same meaning as linna or linn later on meaning a castle or town in English. According to the suggestion nisa would have had the same meaning as niemi (meaning peninsula in English) in an old Finnish form of the name Kesoniemi.[20]

Other than Kesoniemi known ancient historical names of Tallinn in Finnish include Rääveli. The Icelandic Njal's saga mentions Tallinn and calls it Rafala, which is a variant of the name Raphael.

After the Danish conquest in 1219 the town became known in the German, Swedish and Danish languages as Reval (Latin: Revalia). The name originated from (Latin) Revelia (Estonian) Revala or Rävala, the adjacent ancient name of the surrounding Estonian county.

Modern name

The origin of the name "Tallinn(a)" is certain to be Estonian, although the original meaning of the name is debated. It is usually thought to be derived from, Tallide-linn (meaning the City of Stables) or "Taani-linn(a)" (meaning "Danish-castle/town"; Latin: Castrum Danorum) after the Danes built the castle in place of the Estonian stronghold at Lindanisse. However, it could also have come from "tali-linna" ("winter-castle/town"), or "talu-linna" ("house/farmstead-castle/town"). The element -linna, like Germanic -burg and Slavic -grad / -gorod, originally meant "fortress" but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names.

The previously used official German name genitive case of the name, as in Tallinna Reisisadam (Port of Tallinn).

Other variations of modern spellings include Tallinna in Finnish.

A form Tallin deriving from the Romanization of Russian spelling of the name Таллин[23] was also used internationally during the era Estonia was annexed to the Soviet Union.

History

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1997 (21st Session)

The first traces of human settlement found in Tallinn's city center by archeologists are about 5000 years old. The comb ceramic pottery found on the site dates to about 3000 BC and corded ware pottery c. 2500 BC.[24]



In 1050 the first fortress was built on Tallinn Toompea.[9]

As an important port for trade between Russia and Scandinavia, it became a target for the expansion of the Teutonic Knights and the Kingdom of Denmark during the period of Northern Crusades in the beginning of the 13th century when Christianity was forcibly imposed on the local population. Danish rule of Tallinn and Northern Estonia started in 1219.

In 1285 the city, then known as Reval, became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Reval along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Knights in 1346. Medieval Reval enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. The city, with a population of 8,000, was very well fortified with city walls and 66 defence towers.

A weather vane, the figure of an old warrior called Old Thomas, was put on top of the spire of the Tallinn Town Hall in 1530 that became the symbol for the city.

With the start of the Protestant Reformation the German influence became even stronger as the city was converted to Lutheranism. In 1561 Reval politically became a dominion of Sweden.

During the Great Northern War, plague stricken Tallinn along with Swedish Estonia and Livonia capitulated to Imperial Russia in 1710, but the local self-government institutions (Magistracy of Reval and Chivalry of Estonia) retained their cultural and economical autonomy within Imperial Russia as the Governorate of Estonia. The Magistracy of Reval was abolished in 1889. The 19th century brought industrialization of the city and the port kept its importance. During the last decades of the century Russification measures became stronger.

The oldest football club in Estonia, Meteor Tallinn was founded in 1908 in the district Lasnamäe.

On 24 February 1918, the Independence Manifesto was proclaimed in Reval, soon to be Tallinn, followed by Imperial German occupation and a war of independence with Russia. On 2 February 1920, the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed with Soviet Russia, wherein Russia acknowledged the independence of the Estonian Republic. Tallinn became the capital of an independent Estonia. After World War II started, Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1940, and later occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944. After the Nazi retreat in 1944, it was again annexed by the USSR. After annexation into the Soviet Union, Tallinn became the capital of the Estonian SSR.

During the 1980 Summer Olympics, the sailing (then known as yachting) events were held at Pirita, north-east of central Tallinn. Many buildings, such as the "Olümpia" hotel, the new Main Post Office building, and the Regatta Center, were built for the Olympics.

In August 1991 an independent democratic Estonian state was re-established and a period of quick development to a modern European capital ensued. Tallinn became the capital of a de facto independent country once again on 20 August 1991.

Tallinn has historically consisted of three parts:

  • The Toompea (Domberg) or "Cathedral Hill", which was the seat of the central authority: first the Danish captains, then the komturs of the Teutonic Order, and Swedish and Russian governors. It was until 1877 a separate town (Dom zu Reval), the residence of the aristocracy; it is today the seat of the Estonian parliament, government and some embassies and residencies.
  • The Old Town, which is the old Hanseatic town, the "city of the citizens", was not administratively united with Cathedral Hill until the late 19th century. It was the centre of the medieval 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-19th century that ethnic Estonians replaced the local Baltic Germans as the majority among the residents of Tallinn.

The city of Tallinn has never been razed and pillaged; that was the fate of Tartu, the university town 200 km (124 mi) south, which was pillaged in 1397 by the Teutonic Order. Around 1524 Catholic churches in many towns in Estonia, including Tallinn, were pillaged as part of the Reformational fervor: this occurred throughout Europe. Although extensively bombed by Soviet air forces during the later stages of World War II, much of the medieval Old Town still retains its charm. The Tallinn Old Town (including Toompea) became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

At the end of the 15th century a new 159 m (521.65 ft) high Gothic spire was built for St. Olaf's Church. Between 1549 and 1625 it was the tallest building in the world. After several fires and following rebuilding, its overall height is now 123 m (403.54 ft).

Panorama of the central Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats)
Old Town of Tallinn