Defensive Walls, Tallinn
Tallinn's city wall originally had a length of 2.35 kilometers and comprised 46 wall and gate towers. Large sections of the medieval city wall still stand today including 26 of the defensive towers. Each tower has a name. In the 16th century the city wall was one of the most robust in Northern Europe. Its construction was influenced by both Danish and German order fortress architecture. Today around 1.85 km of the wall remains, including 20 towers and four gateways. You can even walk along some of the wall.
La muralla que rodeaTallin originalmente tenía una longitud de 2,35 kilómetros, y tenia 46 paredes y torres. Grandes secciones de la muralla medieval de la ciudad siguen en pie hoy en día incluyendo 26 de las torres de defensa. Cada torre tiene un nombre. En el siglo 16 la muralla de la ciudad fue una de las más sólidas del norte de Europa. Hoy en día alrededor de 1,85 kilometros de la pared permanece, incluyendo 20 torres y cuatro puertas. Usted puede caminar a lo largo de algunos de la muralla.
There are still nearly two kilometres of city wall intact around Tallinn’s old town, and twenty of its defensive towers. Work first began on defences for the town in 1265, ordered by Margaret Sambiria (queen and consort of Christopher I of Denmark), and one of the towers still bears her name albeit with the unwelcome epithet “fat” – a reference to the size of the tower, not I believe its namesake!
The current line of the wall however dates from the 14th century. At its greatest extent, in the 16th century, the wall was 2.4 kilometres long, 14 to 16 metres high, up to three metres thick, and incorporated 46 towers along its length. Although it is no longer intact, the wall still makes its mark on Tallinn and is an impressive sight whether viewed from above (e.g. from the Patkuli viewing platform on Toompea Hill) or close to. In places you can also access the inside and climb to the walkway above to imagine yourself a one-time watchman. The portion of the wall that’s open to the public connects Nunna, Sauna and Kuldjala towers.
My photos are of:
1. Plate Tower near St Olaf’s Church
2. Hellemann Tower and the lane known as Muurivahe which means the way between the walls
3. Hellemann Tower again and a stretch of the walkway above Muurivahe
4. Four of the towers seen from Toompea Hill – I think Köismäe, Plate, Epping and Grusbeke-tagune
5. Kiek in de Kök (an old German name meaning “Peep into the Kitchen” often used as a nickname for towers because their occupants were able to see into kitchens of nearby houses) – near the Danish King's Garden on Toompea Hill
Next tip: the Viru Gate
The first Tallinn City Wall was ordered to be constructed by Danish Queen Margrethe in the middle of the 13th century, but the old Margrethe's Wall doesn't exists anymore. Instead a new and better wall was raised, and in the 16th century, it was the strongest defence system in Northern Europe: 46 towers and 2.4 kilometers of wall (with 8 gates) protected the city.
Today, around half of the original towers and 1.9 kilometers of the wall remains, giving Tallinn its medieval character. I found it quite interesting to take a walk along the wall and have a closer look at some of the gates and towers. Gates and towers all have names, like the artillery tower Kiek in de Kök (which is now a museum) and the Viru Gates from the 14th century.
At the Old Town the Medieval Walls are well preserved and still intact. When you are walking on the cobblestone between the walls at times you will walk underneath a tower and some of these towers you can go up and see the view. In the old days the brick on the walls are for defensive purpose and today it’s a great tourist attraction. Even artist hang their paintings to sell at passing tourist at the medieval wall. The wall definitely gave me the feeling part of Tallinn Old Town history.
The Old Town of Tallinn is surrounded by a defensive wall. Although there are now bits missing there are still large sections that are complete. Apart from the section at Suur Kloostri (see separate Things To Do Tip) there is an intact section from the Viru Gate to the "Fat Margaret" tower. The wall for part of this section is used as a backdrop for an outdoor market.
The Viru Gate is the entrance to the Old Town from the direction of the airport and bus station.
For 1.30€ you get access to this section of the town wall. Not only do you get some great views of the Old Town, but also a close-up view of the construction of the town wall. Well worth the admission.i
The Tallinn fortifications are some of Europe's best preserved and walking along the city walls gives you a great view over old Tallinn and one of the places to do it is the Helleman Tower. It was built at the beginning of the 15th century and is probably named after someone who lived nearby. It is 22m high and was in use until the Great Northern War 1700 - 1710. Entrance is just 3 Euros and you go into the tower and up the stairs. There are a couple of exhibitions on the two floors of the tower and the exit to the walls is on the second floor (American first floor).
This photo is a must have (if you believe in must-haves, I actually don't.) Among the 22 preserved defense towers along the town wall, these four are remarkable because they are standing in one straight row.
This stretch of wall is in the northwest of the old town along Laboratooriumi - Epping tower, the museum tower mentioned in an earlier tip, is one of them. However, to catch the photo you have to leave the old town and walk through the park along the outward side of the wall.
Hellemann Tower is more than a tower – in the sense that hardly anyone visits it to visit a tower – people pay the entrance fee to be able to climb up to the top of the town wall and walk along a 200-metre stretch of it. It’s definitely not recommended if you are scared of heights. View from the top, admittedly, are not that fantastic, but I really enjoyed the opportunity of seeing from up-close how the defensive walls looked like in the Middle Ages.
The tower is open Mon-Sun 10-18 and in August 2010 it cost 30 EEK (adults) and 20 EEK (children) to get in.
All along the defensive walls that today form the borders of the Old Town
The wall system wa sbegun in the 13th century, with the majority of the gates and towers constructed during the 14th-15th centuries. Some of the towers can be visited, and a few boast colourful names:
- Kiek in de Kök, or 'peeping into the kitchen'
- Neitsitorn, or 'Maiden's tower' (which was more of a brothel, in the Middle Ages)
- Fat Margaret's Tower and The Great Coastal Gate
- Viru Gates
- Nunna Tower
- Sauna Tower (hmmmm....)
- Kuldjala Tower
- Epping Tower (and what do we in London think of this one? :) )
Epping Tower (Eppingi Torn) is one of the four towers in a row along the northwestern flank of the old town - those everyone has to have the photo of. The tower can be climbed. A small interactive museum has been established inside. It presents and explains how military defence in the middle ages worked, how the wall and towers were built and how they were used.
The funniest part is on the ground floor: there is a whole assortment of 'medieval' armour: helmets, cuirasses, steel gloves, mail shirts and hoods that you can try on . Taking photos is also allowed, so have fun... Not only kids will enjoy dressing up as a knight.
I had expected more of the view from the top floor, it is only through small dirty windows.
The entrance fee is 60 krooni (4 €) for adults, above average compared to other sights in Tallinn.
When you are walking around in the Old Town, you will see parts of the old wall and towers. They date from the 14th century. These walls and towers were build to protect the city from 'the bad guys' and wars.
Tallinn's famous town walls are really what gives the Old Town its unique identity. The red roofed towers and walls which run around the Old Town are the quintessential symbol of Tallinnn and is one of the unforgettable sights of the city.
The town's medieval fortifications began to appear in the late 13th century and grew to form one of the most formidable city defensive systems in Northern Europe. The fortifications grew steadily and were constantly added to, so that by the 16th century, Tallinn had a town wall, 3 metres thick, 16 metres high, running for 4km around the town and connecting 46 defensive towers. The true testament to the strenght and construction of the walls and towers is that, today, over 2km of the original walls and 26 original towers remain intact.
There are several towers which are open to the public and some of them house museums.
The medieval walls are magnificent. There can be few other cities in the world with walls so complete and well preserved as Tallinn's. It surrounds almost the entire old town, and contains 26 towers. Sometimes the walls just blend with the rest of the buildings, other times, like on Muurivahe near Viru Gate, they tower over you claustrophobically.
Apparently nothing remains of the original 1219 Danish castle except for three corner towers. These all looked pretty impressive to me! The best of the three is the 14th century Pikk Hermann (in English Tall Hermann).
The best way to get up here is at the west end of Pikk and up Pikk jalg taking you through the 1380 redroofed gate tower but there is a walkway up steps that brings you up under Pikk jalg and through a door in the wall.