Raekoja Plats, or Town Hall Square, is the hub of the Old Town. Famous more for executions in the distant past, the square nowadays only sees its share of beer vanquished each day. Tourists flock to it during the day to enjoy the architecture and various stage shows, with a lively night life continuing in the restaurants and pubs all around the square. For a more quiet look, come early in the morning, while most tourists are still sleeping off the previous night's beer. I was fortunate enough to essentially have the square all by myself one sunny morning. Some of the photos of this you can see above.
Once, the center of medieval Tallinn, the still impressive town hall square has lost some of its importance. Until the late 19th century, the main market was held here in the shadow of the town hall. Now, Raekoja Plats is surrounded by cafés, restaurants and pubs and sometimes you may get the impressions that there are only tourists all around the square. However, Raekoja Plats is a nice place and there’s nothing wrong in having a cup of coffee in one of the cafés. It is a lively place and during summertime, you can see people strolling around the square or pub-hopping even late at night. As Tallinn’s old town attracts many tourists, it is not unusual to see any artist’s performance or some kind of event on Raekoja Plats during summertime. Of course, there are also market stalls selling couvenirs.
From Raekoja Plats, most sights of the main town are only a short walk away. The mentioned town hall and the Raeapteek (old pharmacy, see separate tip) are located directly at the square. Note the T-shaped stones close to Raeapteek (see separate tip).
In the middle of the Old Town you will find Raekoja Plats. All the main streets will leed to this square. At the sides (all around the square) you will find restaurants/pubs. One other major building at Raekoja Plats is the City Hall. You will notice this white tall building.
You are never far away from Raekoja Plats. It's right in the centre of everything. It's the main square of the city, and the main market place. The Christmas market is held here every year (see picture). It claims to be one of the best in Europe, and it may well be true, but I just saw the same factory tat that gets sold in Christmas markets all over Germany. Seems to be for the tourists, mostly.
Some of the most popular tourist restaurants are here, like the Russian themed Troika, as is the square's namesake: the impressive, and possibly unique, Gothic City Hall. There's also an ancient pharmacy, the Raeapteek, claimed to be the oldest in the world, having operated continuously in the exact same spot since the 15th century. Not the most amazing thing, but gives you a sense of place in such an old city.
I love squares or plazas, and the one in the Old Town of Tallinn is very nice. I enjoyed taking shots of the pigeons flying around, seeing tourists with their tour guides, and people enjoying the small shops and cafes. You will reach this medieval square through winding cobbled streets. It has been a marketplace since the 11th cenury, and was also the legendary site where criminals were chained to pillories for public humiliation and knights had chivalrous tournaments.
The area is dominated by the Town Hall (Raekoda), built in the 14th and 15th centuries and also the only surviving late Gothic town hall in Northern Europe. Now it is a museum and you can climb the tower for a view.
I had a glimpse of the medieval "pharmacy" decor at what is believed to be the oldest pharmacy in Europe called Reapteek, functioning since 1422! Apparently generations of families have owned this Pharmacy, but I am not sure who owns it now (maybe the city of Tallinn?). Beside it is a café called Kehrwieder Café.
As you can see in the sign in one of the photos here the Square is now listed as Unesco/World heritage.
This Town Square has apparently the only surviving Gothic town hall(1371-1404) in northern Europe. Its spire - named Old Thomas or Vana Toomas - is from the 17th century but its weather vane on top is from 1530.
For only a few euro it is possible to take the stairs up to a look out from the spire giving nice views over the old town.
The Raeapteek - or Town Council Pharmarcy - on the north side of the Square has had a pharmacy or apothecary's shop here since at least 1422. An arch beside the old apothecary leads to a short narrow passage to the 14th century Holy Spirit Church (Puhavaimu Kirik).
Just across from the Holy Spirit church is the interesting History museum housed in one of the medieval merchants house that line Pikk.
It's the main town square, and the focal point of the Old Town, and deserves at least a wander around. As with all such places, do expect to pay a premium for eating or drinking at any of the many cafes and restaurants around the square.
Raekoja Plats is cobbled, surrounded by Medieval buildings and has a rather impressive arched Town Hall (1400s) as its centrepiece (look for the green dragon waterspouts by its roof: they date from later on, of course).
It's a good place to get your bearings before exploring the jumble of streets and alleyways which form the Old Town and, of course, it provides an excellent 'photo opportunity' for many visitors.
It's quite fun to linger a while here, watching the tour groups as they mill and mingle like sheep following their guide, being amused by the antics of stag parties, watching tourist after tourist take the same photo (yes, I took photos too; this is not a criticism just an observation!).
The market square in the old town is the place to be in Tallinn. Everything happens here and thus it gets very crowded in the summer. The square is surrounded by beautiful old buildings and you can also find lots of restaurants here that serve food and drink on their terraces.
It can get quite chaotic during the busiest time of the day in summer as all the terraces are full of hungry (and thirsty!) tourists. So, if you want to enjoy a nice and quiet meal, stay away from the market square.
The central point of tallinn's Old town is the beautiful Raekoja Plats. The square grew as a market place in the centre of Tallinn and served this purpose even before the Town hall was built. The square is surrounded by cafes, bars, restaurants and of course the beautiful medieval town hall. The oldest githic town hall in Northern Europe.
The square is one of the busiest parts of the city and is filled with tourists day and night. While the cafes, restaurants and bars around the square are much more expensive than other areas of the city and Old town, enjoying a beer or coffee while sitting outside in one of the many outdoor terraces surrounding the square is one of the must dos while in Tallinn.
The heart of old town and the central point to see all of Tallinn, both the sights and the bars.
Lots of food outlets of top notch quality, they spread out into the square in the summer months.
The church can be entered for a small fee.
This is what old towns should be like. Are you listening Riga!!!!!!!!!
Radisson Blu Tallinn Tallinn
7 Reviews and 260 Opinions The Radisson Blu Tallinn is one of the new and modern hotels in Tallinn. It is right in the city...
Merchant's House Hotel Tallinn
6 Reviews and 285 Opinions My wife and I have just spent a week (early september) in this great hotel. The staff are really...
Hotel Telegraaf Tallinn
2 Reviews and 511 Opinions We paid 78€ per night for a double room without breakfast in early March 2011. For a 5 star boutique...