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.
Like most very old towns in Europe, Tallinn has a Town Hall Square, and it is the heart of Old Town and has been for 800 years. Tallinn's town square known as Raekoja Plats, is expansive and vibrant, a gathering place for residents and tourist alike. However, this square once served not only as a middle ages space for trader, but also was the site of public executions. It is said that in one day alone in 1806, 72 people were executed here following the put down of a peasant revolt!
Also on the square, look for the L-shaped stones were the story goes that a priest was beheaded in 1694, becaused he axed a waitress to death because she served him an omeltte he didn't like. The story goes on that "She served him an omelette as hard as a shoe."
Today as then, the square is anchored by Town Hall which was built in the 13th century and little has changed in 500 years except for the spire (open for climbing) which is topped by Tallinn's mascot. It is the figure of a 16th century guard, named Old Toomas who was much loved by the children in the city.
Beside the physical charm of the buildings, cobblestone walks, outdoor cafes and the like, you'll find a very interesting place called the "Raeapteek"* or Town Council Pharmacy. It opened its door in 1422 (70 years before Christopher Columbus discovered America!)It is one of the longest continuously functioning drug stores in the world! It once sold a powder allegedly made from unicorn horns and herbs. If you have time, you may wish to visit this unique place, but an admission fee is collected here (as everywhere in town).
Last but not least, look out for the old city jail at Raekoja plats 4/6, however it is now a gallery!
Town Hall Square (Raekoja Plats) has been the main square in Tallinn since more than seven centuries! In older days the market place, nowadays one of the main tourist attraction and meeting point in the centre of Old Town. The Raekoja Plats is dominated by the impressing Town Hall dating back to the beginning of the15th century. Its an impressive example of Gothic architecture. The weather vane, named Old Thomas is watching the square since 1530.
The main floors and attic are open for visitors in July and August, where this year an exhibition "A Town Made of Stone", is presented. It gives a detailed view on the Tallinns transformation from a city built of wood to one of stone during the 14th and 15th century.
On the north eastern corner is the house with the number Raekoja Plats 11, the Raeapteek. Its the oldest continually functioning pharmacy in the world! In business since 1422 and since 1583 run by the Burcharts family who passed it on to the next generation until 1911, for ten generation. In the old days not only medicine was sold but also tobacco, spices, silk and alcoholic drinks i.e. Today there is an exhibition of 17th to 20th century remedies.
Only a few metres away from the pharmacy the visitor can find two long cobblestones making an “L” in the pavement. This is the location where Elias Panicke was beheaded because he killed a waitress.The tails says that he walked into an inn and ordered an omelette. What he got was 'hard as the sole of a shoe,' so he sent it back. The next two that the waitress brought were even worse, and after an argument, the priest decided to make his point by killing the waitress with an axe. For this unusually violent crime, the priest was swiftly hauled out to the square and beheaded, and the spot was marked for the convenience of future tourguides. Service in Tallinn's restaurants has improved since then!
In the middle of the square is a circular stone, from where all five spires of Tallinn´s churches can be seen.
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.
The heart of Tallinn's Old Town is the Raekoja plats, or Old Town Square. Surrounded by elegant pastel hued buildings and the creamy limestone facade of the Town Hall the square has been used as a marketplace, meeting place and also a place of execution.
It is still somewhere to meet up, perhaps in one of the restaurants that overlook it or, during the warmer months, one of the outdoor cafes that are set up on its cobblestones. There is also a reminder of its commercial past with handicraft stalls during summer and its Christmas Market. Indeed you get the sense that this is not a square that has been frozen in aspic - beautiful but untouchable - but a place that is still much in use by locals and visitors alike. There is also an intimate feel about the square, but without it seeming small, and an openness about it without it feeling bare and exposed.
As an introduction to Tallinn's Old Town you can't do worse, and as a place to visit in and for itself you can't do worse either!
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!).
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.
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).
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.
For more than centuries it was used as a market place and also square were to held different celebrations. It was even before the town hall was built here.
During summer here are opened many outdoor cafés, marketplaces and held various concerts. During winter the Christmas tree decorates the square. This tradition dates back from the 15th century.
This place is full of restaurants and coffee shops, it is wonderful place during a hot summer day but it is absolutely amazing beautiful and even romantic (depends with whom you are) during the night. You can just walked around and around this place all night long.
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.
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!!!!!!!!!
Without a doubt the main place tourists visit in Tallinn. It's the most important gathering place for people of Tallinn as well, where many concerts, festivals and art markets are held every year. In spring and summer the square is lined with cafés and in winter a Christmas tree is rected there - a tradition since 1441.
In Medieval times there was the biggest market of the city and tournaments, festivals and even one execution were held there. It is a great place for people watching if you are willing to pay the highest prices in Tallinn be it beer or coffee.
Personally I miss the Tallinn 12 years ago when i first visited it and it was not as commercial and touristy but I cannot stop the progress.
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.