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From top: Tallinn Old Town, KUMU Art Museum, Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, St. Olaf's Church and the City Walls, Kadriorg Palace, Viru Gate, Skyline of Downtown Tallinn
Tallinn is located in Europe
Location within Europe
Tallinn is located in Baltic Sea
Location within Baltic Sea region
Tallinn is located in Estonia
Location within Estonia
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
First historical record1219
First possible appearance on map1154
Town rights1248
 • MayorMihhail Kõlvart
 • Total159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi)
9 m (30 ft)
 • Total437,619
 • Rank1st in Estonia
 • Density2,700/km2 (7,100/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Tallinner (English)
tallinlane (Estonian)
Resident registration (October 2020)
 • Total444,532
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
ISO 3166 codeEE-784
 - Total€15.3 billion
 - Per capita€35,050

Tallinn (/ˈtɑːlɪn, ˈtælɪn/;[4][5][6] Estonian: [ˈtɑlʲːinː]) is the most populous, primate, and capital city of Estonia. Situated on a bay in north Estonia, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea, Tallinn has a population of 444,532 (as of 2021)[1] and administratively lies in the Harju maakond (county). Tallinn is the main financial, industrial and cultural centre of Estonia. It is located 187 kilometres (116 mi) northwest of the country's second largest city Tartu, however only 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Helsinki, Finland, 320 kilometres (200 mi) west of Saint Petersburg, Russia, 300 kilometres (190 mi) north of Riga, Latvia, and 380 kilometres (240 mi) east of Stockholm, Sweden. From the 13th century until the first half of the 20th century Tallinn was known in most of the world by variants of its other historical name Reval.

Tallinn received Lübeck city rights in 1248,[7] however the earliest evidence of human settlement in the area dates back nearly 5,000 years.[8] The first recorded claim over the place was laid by Denmark in 1219, after a successful raid of Lyndanisse led by King Valdemar II, followed by a period of alternating Scandinavian and Teutonic rulers. Tallinn was known as one of the most important medieval ports in the Gulf of Finland together with Turku;[9] due to its strategic location in the Baltic Sea, the city became a significant trade hub, especially from the 14th to the 16th century, when it grew in importance as part of the Hanseatic League. Tallinn's Old Town in Kesklinn is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[10]

Tallinn has the highest number of start-ups per person among European countries[11] and is the birthplace of many international high technology companies, including Skype and Wise.[12] The city is home to the headquarters of the European Union's IT agency,[13] and to the NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. In 2007, Tallinn was listed among the top ten digital cities in the world.[14] The city was a European Capital of Culture for 2011, along with Turku in Finland.


In 1154, a town called قلون (Qlwn[15] or Quwri)[16][17] was put on the world map of the Almoravid (Tabula Rogeriana) by the Arab 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 one possible transcription, 'Qlwn', may have denoted a predecessor of the modern city[18][19] and may somehow be related to another name, 'Kolyvan', which has been discovered from later East Slavic chronicles.[20][21] However, a number of modern historians have considered connecting any of al-Idrisi's placenames with modern Tallinn erroneous, unfounded or speculative.[22][7][23][24]

Henry of Livonia in his chronicle called the town with the name that is also known to have been used up to the 13th century by Scandinavians: Lindanisa (or Lyndanisse in Danish,[25][26][27] Lindanäs in Swedish and Ledenets in Old East Slavic). The Icelandic Njal's saga mentions an event that took place somewhere in the area of Tallinn and calls the place Rafala, which was probably a derivation of Rävala, Revala, or some other variant of the Estonian name of the adjacent Ancient Estonian county. After the Danish conquest in 1219, the town became known in the Danish, Swedish and German languages as Reval (Latin: Revalia). Reval was in official use in Estonia until 1918.

The lesser coat of arms of Tallinn, which depicts the Dannebrog cross.

The name Tallinn(a) is Estonian. It is widely considered a historical derivation of Taani-linn(a), meaning 'Danish-town' (Latin: Castrum Danorum), after the Danes built the castle in place of the Estonian stronghold at Lindanisse.[a] However, according to minor theories it could also have come from tali-linna ('winter-castle or town'), or talu-linna ('house/farmstead-castle or town').[citation needed] 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 names in German About this soundReval  and Russian Revel (Ревель) were replaced after Estonia became independent in 1918. At first, both forms Tallinna and Tallinn were used.[28] The United States Board on Geographic Names adopted the form Tallinn between June 1923 and June 1927.[29] Tallinna in Estonian denotes the genitive case of the name, as in Tallinna Sadam ('the Port of Tallinn').


Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Raekoja plats 2.jpg
CriteriaCultural: ii, iv
Inscription1997 (21st Session)
Buffer zone2,253 ha
Historical affiliations

  Revala (county) pre-1219
Kingdom of Denmark 1219–1227
Livonian Brothers of the Sword 1227–1237
Livonian Order 1237–1238
Kingdom of Denmark 1238–1332
Livonian Order (protectorate) 1332–1340
Kingdom of Denmark 1340–1346
Teutonic Order 1346–1347
Livonian Order 1347–1561
Kingdom of Sweden 1561–1710
Russian Empire (Tsardom) 1710–1917
Russian Provisional Government 1917
Soviet (bolshevik) government 1917–1918
 Republic of Estonia 1918
German Empire German occupation 1918
 Republic of Estonia 1918–1940
Soviet Union Soviet occupation 1940-1941
Nazi Germany German occupation 1941–1944
 Republic of Estonia 1944
Soviet Union Soviet occupation 1944-1991
 Republic of Estonia 1991–onwards

The Danish flag falling from the sky in the 1219 Battle of Lindanise.
Seal of Reval, 1340

The first traces of hunter-fisherman community migrations[8] in the present day Tallinn's city centre, found by the archeologists are about 5,000 years old. The comb ceramic pottery found on the site dates to about 3000 BCE and corded ware pottery c. 2500 BCE.[30]

Old Thomas is one of the symbols and guardians of Tallinn
Port of Reval in 1853. Painting by Alexey Bogolyubov

Around 1050, the first fortress was built on Tallinn Toompea.[16]

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, Tallinn, then known more widely as Reval, became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The king of Denmark sold Reval along with 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 about 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. Old Thomas has later become a popular symbol of the city.

Already in the early years of the Protestant Reformation the city converted to Lutheranism. In 1561, Reval 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 industrialisation of the city and the port kept its importance. During the last decades of the century Russification measures became stronger. Off the coast of Reval, in June 1908, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra of Russia, along with their children, met their mutual uncle and aunt, Britain's King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, an act which was seen as a royal confirmation of the Anglo-Russian Entente of the previous year, and which was the first time a reigning British monarch had visited Russia.[citation needed]

On 24 February 1918, the Independence Manifesto was proclaimed in Reval (Tallinn), followed by Imperial German occupation and a war of independence with Soviet Russia, after which Tallinn became the capital of independent Estonia. During World War II, Estonia was first occupied by the Red Army and annexed into the USSR in 1940, then occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944. When German forces invaded there were about 1,000 remaining Jews in the city of Tallinn, nearly all of whom would die in the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis before the war's end.[31] After the German retreat in 1944, the city was occupied again by the Soviets. After the annexation of Estonia into the USSR, Tallinn became formally "the capital city" of the Estonian SSR within the Soviet Union.

Tram along the Pärnu maantee street in Tallinn on June 26, 1983, during the Soviet-era of Estonia.

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 Tallinn TV Tower, "Olümpia" hotel, the new Main Post Office building, and the Regatta Centre, were built for the Olympics.

In 1991, an independent democratic Estonian nation was reestablished and a period of quick development as 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:

  • Toompea (Domberg) or the "Cathedral hill", which has been the seat of central authority: the bishops, Danish viceroys, then the komturs of the Teutonic Order, and Swedish and Russian governors. It was until 1877 a separate town (Dom zu Reval) with mostly aristocratic residents; today it accommodates the seat of the Estonian parliament, government as well as some embassies and residencies.
  • All-linn or "old downtown", the old Hanseatic merchant town, which was not administratively united with Toompea until the late 19th century. It was the centre of the medieval trade on which it grew prosperous.
  • The "new Estonian town", a crescent to the south of the medieval city wall which grew over time as more commoners settled in the area. It was not until mid-19th century censuses that ethnic Estonians replaced ethnic Germans as the majority among the residents within Tallinn's enlarged city boundaries.

The city of Tallinn has never been razed, however around 1524 Catholic churches in many towns of 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)[verification needed] high Gothic spire was built for St. Olaf's Church. Between 1549 and 1625 it may have been the tallest building in the world.[dubious ] After several fires and subsequent periods of rebuilding, its overall height is now 123 m (403.54 ft).

Toompea Castle (Toompea loss)


Panorama of the city centre

Tallinn is situated on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, in north-western Estonia.

The largest lake in Tallinn is Lake Ülemiste (9.44 km2 (3.6 sq mi)), which serves as the main source of the city's drinking water. Lake Harku is the second largest lake within the borders of Tallinn and its area is 1.6 square kilometres (0.6 sq mi). Tallinn does not lie on a major river. The only significant river in Tallinn nowadays is Pirita, in the eponymous Pirita city district. Historically, the small Härjapea river flowed from Lake Ülemiste through the town into the sea, but the river was diverted into underground sewerage system in the 1930s and has since completely disappeared from the cityscape. References to it still remain in the street names Jõe (from jõgi, river) and Kivisilla (from kivi sild, stone bridge).

Härjapea river, 1889

A limestone cliff runs through the city. It can be seen at Toompea, Lasnamäe and Astangu. However, Toompea is not a part of the cliff, but a separate hill.

The highest point in Tallinn, at 64 meters above sea level, is situated in Hiiu, Nõmme District, in the south-west of the city.

The length of the coast is 46 kilometres (29 miles). It comprises three bigger peninsulas: Kopli peninsula, Paljassaare peninsula and Kakumäe peninsula. The city has a number of public beaches, including those at Pirita, Stroomi, Kakumäe, Harku and Pikakari.[32]

The geology under the city of Tallinn is made up of rocks and sediments of different composition and age. Youngest are the Quaternary deposits. The material of these deposits are till, varved clay, sand, gravel and pebbles that are of glacial, marine and lacustrine origin. Some of the Quaternary deposits are valuable as they constitute aquifers or, as in the case of gravels and sands, are used as construction materials. The Quaternary deposits are the fill of valleys that are now buried. The buried valleys of Tallinn are carved into older rock likely by ancient rivers to be later modified by glaciers. While the valley fill is made up of Quaternary sediments the valleys themselves originated from erosion that took place before the Quaternary.[33] The substrate into which the buried valleys were carved is made up of hard sedimentary rock of Ediacaran, Cambrian and Ordovician age. Only the upper layer of Ordovician rocks protrudes from the cover of younger deposits cropping out in the Baltic Klint at the coast and at a few places inland. The Ordovician rocks are made up from top to bottom of a thick layer of limestone and marlstone, then a first layer of argillite followed by first layer of sandstone and siltstone and then another layer of argillite also followed by sandstone and siltstone. In other places of the city hard sedimentary rock is only to be found beneath Quaternary sediments at depths reaching as much as 120 meters below sea level. Underlying the sedimentary rock are the rocks of the Fennoscandian Craton including gneisses and other metamorphic rocks with volcanic rock protoliths and rapakivi granites. The mentioned rocks are much older than the rest (Paleoproterozoic age) and do not crop out anywhere in Estonia.[33]


Tallinn has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with mild, rainy summers and cold, snowy winters.[34] Winters are cold but mild for its latitude, owing to its coastal location. The average temperature in February, the coldest month, is −3.6 °C (25.5 °F). During the winter months, temperatures tend to hover close to the freezing mark but mild spells of weather can push temperatures above 0 °C (32 °F), occasionally reaching above 5 °C (41 °F) while cold air masses can push temperatures below −18 °C (0 °F) an average of 6 days a year. Snowfall is common during the winter months. Winters are cloudy[35] and are characterised by low amounts of sunshine, ranging from only 20.7 hours of sunshine per month in December to 58.8 hours in February.[36]

Spring starts out cool, with freezing temperatures common in March and April but gradually becomes warmer in May when daytime temperatures average 15.4 °C (59.7 °F) although nighttime temperatures still remain cool, averaging −3.7 to 5.2 °C (25.3 to 41.4 °F) from March to May.[37] Snowfall is common in March and can occur in April.[35]

Summers are mild with daytime temperatures hovering around 19.2 to 22.2 °C (66.6 to 72.0 °F) and nighttime temperatures averaging between 9.8 to 13.1 °C (49.6 to 55.6 °F) from June to August.[37] The warmest month is usually July, with an average of 17.6 °C (63.7 °F).[37] During summer, partly cloudy or clear days are common[35] and it is the sunniest season, ranging from 255.6 hours of sunshine in August to 312.1 hours in July although precipitation is higher during these months.[38][36] As a consequence of its high latitude, at the summer solstice, daylight lasts for more than 18 hours and 30 minutes.[39]

Fall starts out mild, with a September average of 12.0 °C (53.6 °F) and increasingly becomes cooler and cloudier towards the end of November.[35] In the early parts of fall, temperatures commonly reach 16.1 °C (61.0 °F) and at least one day above 21 °C (70 °F) in September. In the latter months of fall, freezing temperatures become more common and snowfall can occur.

Tallinn receives 700 millimeters (28 in) of precipitation annually which is evenly distributed throughout the year although March, April and May are the driest months, averaging about 35 to 37 millimeters (1.4 to 1.5 in) while July and August are the wettest months with 82 to 85 millimeters (3.2 to 3.3 in) of precipitation.[38] The average humidity is 81%, ranging from a high of 89% to a low of 69% in May.[40] Tallinn has an average windspeed of 3.3 metres per second (11 ft/s) with winters being the windiest (around 3.7 metres per second (12 ft/s) in January) and summers being the least windy at around 2.7 m/s (8.9 ft/s) in August.[35] Extremes range from −31.4 °C (−24.5 °F) in January 1987 to 34.3 °C (93.7 °F) in July 1994.[35]

According to a 2021 study commissioned by the British price comparison site Uswitch.com, Tallinn is the most unpredictable of European capitals in terms of weather conditions, with a total score of 69/100; the high score is mainly due to the high number of rainy days in the city and the variation in the duration of sunshine. Riga and Helsinki took 2nd and 3rd places.[41][42][43]

Climate data for Tallinn, Estonia (normals 1991–2020 and extremes 1805–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 9.2
Average high °C (°F) −0.7
Daily mean °C (°F) −2.9
Average low °C (°F) −5.5
Record low °C (°F) −31.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 56
Average rainy days 10 8 9 12 11 13 13 14 17 18 16 12 153
Average snowy days 19 18 13 5 0.4 0 0 0 0 2 11 18 87
Average relative humidity (%) 89 86 80 72 69 74 76 79 82 85 89 89 81
Mean monthly sunshine hours 29.7 58.8 148.4 217.3 306.0 294.3 312.1 255.6 162.3 88.3 29.1 20.7 1,922.7
Average ultraviolet index 0 1 1 3 4 5 5 4 3 1 0 0 2
Source 1: Estonian Weather Service[37][38][40][36][44]
Source 2: Pogoda.ru.net (rainy and snowy days)[35] and Weather Atlas[45]

Administrative districts

Map of the districts of Tallinn
District Flag Arms Population
(November 2017)[46]
Area[47] Density
Haabersti Flag of Haabersti district, Tallinn, Estonia.svg Haabersti linnaosa vapp.svg 45,339 22.26 km2 (8.6 sq mi) 2,036.8/km2 (5,275.3/sq mi)
Kesklinn (centre) Kesklinn linnaosa lipp.svg Kesklinn linnaosa vapp.svg 63,406 30.56 km2 (11.8 sq mi) 2,074.8/km2 (5,373.7/sq mi)
Kristiine Kristiine linnaosa vapp.svg 33,202 7.84 km2 (3.0 sq mi) 4,234.9/km2 (10,968.5/sq mi)
Lasnamäe Flag of Lasnamäe district, Tallinn, Estonia.svg Lasnamäe linnaosa vapp.svg 119,542 27.47 km2 (10.6 sq mi) 4,351.7/km2 (11,270.9/sq mi)
Mustamäe Mustamäe linnaosa lipp.svg Mustamäe linnaosa vapp.svg 68,211 8.09 km2 (3.1 sq mi) 8,431.5/km2 (21,837.5/sq mi)
Nõmme Flag of Nõmme district, Tallinn, Estonia.svg Nõmme linnaosa vapp.svg 39,540 29.17 km2 (11.3 sq mi) 1,355.5/km2 (3,510.7/sq mi)
Pirita Flag of Pirita district, Tallinn, Estonia.svg Pirita linnaosa vapp.svg 18,606 18.73 km2 (7.2 sq mi) 993.4/km2 (2,572.8/sq mi)
Põhja-Tallinn Põhja-Tallinn linnaosa lipp.svg Põhja-Tallinn COA.svg 60,203 15.9 km2 (6.1 sq mi) 3,786.4/km2 (9,806.6/sq mi)

For local government purposes, Tallinn is subdivided into 8 administrative districts (Estonian: linnaosad, singular linnaosa). The district governments are city institutions that fulfill, in the territory of their district, the functions assigned to them by Tallinn legislation and statutes.

Each district government is managed by an elder (Estonian: linnaosavanem). They are appointed by the city government on the nomination of the mayor and after having heard the opinion of the administrative councils. The function of the administrative councils is to recommend to the city government and commissions of the city council how the districts should be administered.

The administrative districts are further divided into subdistricts or neighbourhoods (Estonian: asum). Their names and borders are officially defined. There are 84 subdistricts in Tallinn.[48]


Largest ethnic groups[49]
Ethnic group Population (2020) %
Estonians 228,845 52.29
Russians 158,588 36,24
Ukrainians 12,717 3,10
Belarusians 6,021 1,37
Finns 2,998 0.68
Jews 1,419 0.32
Latvians 1,255 0.29
Lithuanians 1,052 0.24
Germans 1,034 0.24
Tatars 1,034 0.24
Armenians 997 0.23
Poles 851 0.19
Azerbaijanis 825 0.19
Other 10,052 2,30
Unknown 9,089 2,08

The population of Tallinn on 1 January 2020 was 437,619.[1]

According to Eurostat, in 2004 Tallinn had one of the largest number of non-EU nationals of all EU member states' capital cities with Russians forming a significant minority (~34% belong to the Russian ethnic group, but a majority now hold Estonian citizenship).[50] Ethnic Estonians made up over 52% of the population (as of 2020).

Tallinn was one of the urban areas with industrial and military significance in north Estonia that during the period of Soviet occupation (1944–1991) underwent extensive Russification of its ethnic composition due to large influx of immigrants from Russia and other parts of the former USSR. Whole new city districts were built where the main intent of the then Soviet authorities was to accommodate Russian-speaking immigrants: Mustamäe, Väike-Õismäe, Pelguranna, and, most notably, Lasnamäe, which in 1980s became, and is to this day, the most populous district of Tallinn.

Indigenous ethnic Estonians made up over 80% of Tallinn's population before World War II, but make up only 52% in 2020. Tallinners made up about 29,7% of Estonia's population in 2009.

The official language of Tallinn is Estonian. In 2011, 206,490 (50.1%) spoke Estonian as their native language and 192,199 (46.7%) spoke Russian as their native language. Other spoken languages include Ukrainian, Belarusian and Finnish.[51]

Year 1372 1772 1816 1834 1851 1881 1897 1925 1959 1989 2000 2005 2010 2017 2018 2019 2020
Population 3,250 6,954 12,000 15,300 24,000 45,900 58,800 119,800 283,071 478,974 400,378 401,694 406,703 426,538 430,805 434,562 437,619


Tornimäe business area
Rotermann business district

Tallinn is the financial and business capital of Estonia. The city has a highly diversified economy with particular strengths in information technology, tourism and logistics. Over half of the Estonian GDP is created in Tallinn.[52] In 2008, the GDP per capita of Tallinn stood at 172% of the Estonian average.[53] In addition to longtime functions as seaport and capital city, Tallinn has seen development of an information technology sector; in its 13 December 2005, edition, The New York Times characterised Estonia as "a sort of Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea".[54] One of Tallinn's sister cities is the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos, California. Skype is one of the best-known of several Estonian start-ups originating from Tallinn. Many start-ups originated from the Soviet-era Institute of Cybernetics. In recent years,[when?] Tallinn has gradually been becoming one of the main IT centres of Europe, with the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) of NATO, the EU Agency for large-scale IT systems and the IT development centres of large corporations, such as TeliaSonera and Kuehne + Nagel being based in the city. Smaller start-up incubators like Garage48 and Game Founders have helped to provide support to teams from Estonia and around the world looking for support, development and networking opportunities.[55]

Tallinn receives 4.3 million visitors annually,[56] a figure that has grown steadily over the past decade. The Finns are especially a common sight in Tallinn;[57] on average, about 20,000–40,000 Finnish tourists visit the city between June and October.[58] The cheaper price of alcohol products in particular is one of the main reasons for Finns to visit Tallinn.[58] Tallinn's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a major tourist attraction; others include the Seaplane Harbour of Estonian Maritime Museum, the Tallinn Zoo, Kadriorg Park, and the Estonian Open Air Museum. Most of the visitors come from Europe, though Tallinn has also become increasingly visited by tourists from Russia and the Asia-Pacific region.[59] Tallinn Passenger Port is one of the busiest cruise destinations on the Baltic Sea, serving more than 520,000 cruise passengers in 2013.[60] From year 2011 regular cruise turnarounds in cooperation with Tallinn Airport are organised.

Eesti Energia, a large oil shale to energy company,[61] has its headquarters in Tallinn. The city also hosts the headquarters of Elering, a national electric power transmission system operator and member of ENTSO-E, the Estonian natural gas company Eesti Gaas and energy holding company Alexela Energia, part of Alexela Group. Nord Pool Spot, the largest market for electrical energy in the world, established its local office in Tallinn.

The SEB Pank building in Tornimäe district

Tallinn is the financial centre of Estonia and also a strong economic centre in the Scandinavian-Baltic region. Many major banks, such as SEB, Swedbank, Nordea, DNB, have their local offices in Tallinn. LHV Pank, an Estonian investment bank, has its corporate headquarters in Tallinn. Two crypto-currencies exchanges officially recognized by the Estonian government, CoinMetro[62] and DX.Exchange[63] have their headquarters in Tallinn. Tallinn Stock Exchange, part of NASDAQ OMX Group, is the only regulated exchange in Estonia. Port of Tallinn is one of the biggest ports in the Baltic sea region.[64] Old City Harbour has been known as a convenient harbour since the 10th century[dubious ][verification needed], but nowadays the cargo operations are shifted to Muuga Cargo Port and Paldiski Southern Port. There is a small fleet of oceangoing trawlers that operate out of Tallinn.[65] Tallinn's industries include shipbuilding, machine building, metal processing, electronics, textile manufacturing. BLRT Grupp has its headquarters and some subsidiaries in Tallinn. Air Maintenance Estonia and AS Panaviatic Maintenance, both based in Tallinn Airport, provide MRO services for aircraft, largely expanding their operations in recent years. Liviko, the maker of Vana Tallinn liqueur, strongly associated with the city, is based in Tallinn. The headquarters of Kalev, a confectionery company and part of the industrial conglomerate Orkla Group, is located in Lehmja, southeast of Tallinn. Estonia is ranked third in Europe in terms of shopping centre space per inhabitant, ahead of Sweden and being surpassed only by Norway and Luxembourg.[66]

Notable headquarters

The Fahle House accommodates many corporate headquarters

Among others:

  • NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE)
  • European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice[67][68][13] is based in Tallinn.
  • Skype has its software development centre located in Tallinn.[69]
  • Telia Company has its IT development centre located in Tallinn.[70]
  • Kuehne + Nagel has its IT centre located in Tallinn.[71]
  • Arvato Financial Solutions has its global IT development and innovation centre located in Tallinn.[72]
  • Ericsson has one of its biggest production facilities in Europe located in Tallinn, focusing on the production of 4G communication devices.[73]
  • Equinor has announced moving the group's financial centre to Tallinn.[74]


Institutions of higher education and science include:



Tallinn is home to more than 60 museums and galleries.[75] Most of them are located in Kesklinn, the central district of the city, and cover Tallinn's rich history.

One of the most visited historical museums in Tallinn is the Estonian History Museum, located in Great Guild Hall at Vanalinn, the old part of the city.[76] It covers Estonia's history from prehistoric times up until the end of the 20th century.[77] It features film and hands-on displays that show how Estonian dwellers lived and survived.[77]

The Estonian Maritime Museum provides a detailed overview of nation's seafaring past. This museum in also located in city's Old Town, where it occupies one of Tallinn's former defensive structures – Fat Margaret's Tower.[78] Another historical museum that can be found at city's Old Town, just behind the Town Hall, is Tallinn City Museum. It covers Tallinn's history from pre-history until 1991, when Estonia regained its independence.[79] Tallinn City Museum owns nine more departments and museums around the city,[79] one of which is Tallinn's Museum of Photography, also located just behind the Town Hall. It features permanent exhibition that covers 100 years of photography in Estonia.[80]

Estonia's Museum of Occupation is yet another historical museum located in Tallinn's central district. It covers the 52 years when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.[81] Not far away is another museum related to the Soviet occupation of Estonia, the KGB Museum, which occupies the 23rd floor of Sokos Hotel Viru. It features equipment, uniforms, and documents of Russian Secret Service agents.[82]

Tallinn is also home to two major natural science museums – Estonian Museum of Natural History and Estonian Health Care Museum, both located in Old Town. The Estonian Museum of Natural Science features several seasonal and temporary themed exhibitions that provide an overview of wildlife in Estonia and around the world.[83] The Estonian Health Care Museum features permanent exhibitions on anatomy and health care; its collections and displays cover the history of medicine in Estonia.[84]

Estonia's capital is also home to many art and design museums. The Estonian Art Museum, the country's biggest art museum, now consists of four branches – Kumu Art Museum, Kadriorg Art Museum, Mikkel Museum, and Niguliste Museum. Kumu Art Museum features the country's largest collection of contemporary and modern art. It also displays Estonian art starting from the early 18th century.[85] Those who are interested in Western European and Russian art may enjoy Kadriorg Art Museum collections, located in Kadriorg Palace, a beautiful Baroque building erected by Peter the Great. It stores and displays about 9,000 works of art from the 16th to 20th centuries.[86] The Mikkel Museum, in Kadriorg Park, displays a collection of mainly Western art – ceramics and Chinese porcelain donated by Johannes Mikkel in 1994. The Niguliste Museum occupies former St. Nicholas' Church; it displays collections of historical ecclesiastical art spanning nearly seven centuries from the Middle Ages to post-Reformation art.

Those that are interested in design and applied art may enjoy the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design collection of Estonian contemporary designs. It displays up to 15.000 pieces of work made of textile art, ceramics, porcelain, leather, glass, jewellery, metalwork, furniture, and product design.[87] To experience more relaxed, culture-oriented exhibits, one may turn to Museum of Estonian Drinking Culture. This museum showcases the historic Luscher & Matiesen Distillery as well as the history of Estonian alcohol production.[88]


The Estonian Song Festival (in Estonian: Laulupidu) is one of the largest choral events in the world[dubious ][verification needed], listed by the UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It is held every five years in July on the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (Lauluväljak) simultaneously with the Estonian Dance Festival.[89] The joint choir has comprised more than 30,000 singers performing to an audience of 80,000.[89][90]

Often referred to as The Singing Nation, the Estonians have one of the biggest collections of folk songs in the world[dubious ][verification needed], with written records of about 133,000 folk songs.[91] From 1987, a cycle of mass demonstrations featuring spontaneous singing of national songs and hymns that were strictly forbidden during the years of the Soviet occupation to peacefully resist the illegal oppression. In September 1988, a record 300,000 people, more than a quarter of all Estonians, gathered in Tallinn for a song festival.[92]

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (Estonian: Pimedate Ööde Filmifestival, or PÖFF), is an annual film festival held since 1997 in Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia. PÖFF is the only festival in the Nordic and Baltic region with a FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Association) accreditation for holding an international competition programme in the Nordic and Baltic region with 14 other non-specialised festivals, such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice. With over 250 feature films screened each year and over 77500 attendances (2014), PÖFF is one of the largest film events of Northern Europe and cultural events in Estonia in the winter season. During its 19th edition in 2015 the festival screened more than 600 films (including 250+ feature-length films from 80 different countries), bringing over 900 screenings to an audience of over 80, 000 people as well as over 700 accredited guests and journalists from 50 different countries. In 2010 the festival held the European Film Awards ceremony in Tallinn.


World's largest kiluvõileib, some 20 m in length, created at Tallinn Town Hall Square on 15 May 2014[93]

The traditional cuisine of Tallinn reflects culinary traditions of north Estonia, the role of the city as a fishing port, and historical German influences. Numerous cafés (Estonian: Kohvik) have played a major role in a social life of the city since the 19th century, as have bars, especially in the Kesklinn district.

The marzipan industry in Tallinn has a very long history. The production of marzipan started in the Middle Ages, almost simultaneously in Tallinn and Lübeck, both members of the Hanseatic League. In 1695, marzipan was mentioned as a medicine, under the designation of Panis Martius, in the price lists of the Tallinn Town Hall Pharmacy.[94] The modern era of marzipan in Tallinn began in 1806, when the Swiss confectioner Lorenz Caviezel set up his confectionery on Pikk Street. In 1864 it was bought and expanded by Georg Stude and now is known as the Maiasmokk café. In the late 19th century marzipan figurines made by Reval confectioners were supplied to the Russian Imperial Family.[95] Today, along with mass production, unique projects are made, such as a 12 kg scale model of the Estonia Theatre.[96]

The most symbolic seafood dish of Tallinn is "Vürtsikilu" – spicy sprats, pickled with a distinctive set of spices including black pepper, allspice and cloves. Making vürtsikilu presumably originated from the city outskirts, beginning in the late 18th or the early 19th century. In 1826 Tallinn merchants exported nearly 40,000 cans of vürtsikilu to Saint Petersburg, then the capital of the Russian Empire.[97] A closely associated dish is a "Kiluvõileib" – a traditional rye bread open sandwich with a thin layer of butter and a layer of vürtsikilu as a topping. Boiled egg slices, mayonnaise and culinary herbs are optional extra toppings. Alcoholic beverages produced in the city include beers, vodkas, and liqueurs, the latter (such as Vana Tallinn) being the most characteristic. Also, the number of craft beer breweries has expanded sharply in Tallinn over the last decade, entering local and regional markets.


What can arguably be considered to be Tallinn's main attractions are located in the old town of Tallinn (divided into a "lower town" and Toompea hill) which is easily explored on foot. The eastern parts of the city, notably Pirita (with Pirita Convent) and Kadriorg (with Kadriorg Palace) districts, are also popular destinations, and the Estonian Open Air Museum in Rocca al Mare, west of the city, preserves aspects of Estonian rural culture and architecture.

Toompea – Upper Town

Stenbock House on Toompea hill is the official seat of the Government of Estonia

This area was once an almost separate town, heavily fortified, and has always been the seat of whatever power that has ruled Estonia. The hill occupies an easily defensible site overlooking the surrounding districts. The major attractions are the medieval Toompea Castle (today housing the Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu), the Lutheran St Mary's Cathedral, also known as the Dome Church (Estonian: Toomkirik), and the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

All-linn – Lower Town

This area is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe and the authorities are continuing its rehabilitation. Major sights include the Town Hall square (Estonian: Raekoja plats), the city wall and towers (notably "Fat Margaret" and "Kiek in de Kök") as well as a number of medieval churches, including St Olaf's, St. Nicholas' and the Church of the Holy Ghost. The Catholic Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul is also in the Lower Town.


Kadriorg is 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) east of the city centre and is served by buses and trams. Kadriorg Palace, the former palace of Peter the Great, built just after the Great Northern War, now houses the foreign art department of the Art Museum of Estonia, the presidential residence and the surrounding grounds include formal gardens and woodland.

The main building of the Art Museum of Estonia, Kumu (Estonian: Kunstimuuseum, Art Museum), was built in 2006 and lies in Kadriorg park. It houses an encyclopaedic collection of Estonian art, including paintings by Carl Timoleon von Neff, Johann Köler, Eduard Ole, Jaan Koort, Konrad Mägi, Eduard Wiiralt, Henn Roode and Adamson-Eric, among others.


This coastal district is a further 2 kilometres north-east of Kadriorg. The marina was built for the Moscow Olympics of 1980, and boats can be hired on the Pirita River. Two kilometres inland are the Botanic Gardens and the Tallinn TV Tower.

Music culture

Tallinn has a few music venues for live music such as Kultuurikatel, Tapper, EKKM – Museum and nightlife, DM Baar. Yearly festivals like Tallinn Music Week and Stalker Festival take place.


A CAF tram operating in Tallinn

City transport

The city operates a system of bus (73 lines), tram (4 lines) and trolley-bus (4 lines) routes to all districts; the 33 kilometres (21 mi) long tram system[98] is the only tram network in Estonia.[99][100] A flat-fare system is used. The ticket-system is based on prepaid RFID cards available in kiosks and post offices. In January 2013, Tallinn became the first European capital to offer a fare-free service on buses, trams and trolleybuses within the city limits. This service is available to residents who register with the municipality.[101]


A Nordica aircraft landing at Tallinn Airport

The Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport is about 4 kilometres (2 miles) from Town Hall square (Raekoja plats). There is a tram (Line Number: 4 and local bus connection between the airport and the edge of the city centre (bus no. 2). The nearest railway station Ülemiste is only 1.5 km (0.9 mi) from the airport.

The construction of the new section of the airport began in 2007 and was finished in summer 2008.

There has been a helicopter service to and from Helsinki operated by Copterline and taking 18 minutes to cross the Gulf of Finland. The Copterline Tallinn terminal is located adjacent to Linnahall, five minutes from the city centre. After a crash near Tallinn in August 2005, service was suspended but restarted in 2008 with a new fleet.[102] The operator cancelled it again in December 2008,[103] on grounds of unprofitability. On 15 February 2010, Copterline filed for bankruptcy, citing inability to keep the company profitable. In 2011 Copterline started again operating the Tallinn – Helsinki flights. In 2016, Copterline OÜ filed for bankruptcy[104] and there are no scheduled helicopter flights from Tallinn.


The port of Tallinn is one of the busiest cruise and passenger harbours in Northern Europe with over 10 million people passing through in 2016.

Several ferry operators, Viking Line, Tallink and Eckerö Line, connect Tallinn to Helsinki, Mariehamn, Stockholm, and St. Petersburg. Passenger lines connect Tallinn to Helsinki (83 km (52 mi) north of Tallinn) in approximately 2–3.5 hours by cruiseferries.


Railway platform at the Tallinn Baltic Station

The Elron railway company operates train services from Tallinn to Tartu, Valga, Türi, Viljandi, Tapa, Narva, Koidula. Buses are also available to all these and various other destinations in Estonia, as well as to Saint Petersburg in Russia and Riga, Latvia. The Russian railways company operates a daily international sleeper train service between Tallinn – Moscow.

Tallinn also has a commuter rail service running from Tallinn's main rail station in two main directions: east (Aegviidu) and to several western destinations (Pääsküla, Keila, Riisipere, Turba, Paldiski, and Kloogaranna). These are electrified lines and are used by the Elron railroad company. Stadler FLIRT EMU and DMU units are in service since July 2013. The first electrified train service in Tallinn was opened in 1924 from Tallinn to Pääsküla, a distance of 11.2 km (7.0 mi).

The Rail Baltica project, which will link Tallinn with Warsaw via Latvia and Lithuania, will connect Tallinn with the rest of the European rail network. A undersea tunnel has been proposed between Tallinn and Helsinki,[105] though it remains at a planning phase.


The Via Baltica motorway (part of European route E67 from Helsinki to Prague) connects Tallinn to the Lithuanian/Polish border through Latvia. Frequent and affordable long-distance bus routes connect Tallinn with other parts of Estonia. In 2013, the 320-meter-long Ülemiste tunnel was first opened.

Notable people

Pre 1900

1900 to 1930

1930 to 1950

1950 to 1970

1970 to date

Architects and Conductors


Twin towns – sister cities

Tallinn is twinned with:[106]

Image gallery

See also


  1. ^ The Danish heritage is also evident in the city lesser coat of arms, depicting the Dannebrog.


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Books and articles

  • Burch, Stuart. "An unfolding signifier: London's Baltic exchange in Tallinn." Journal of Baltic Studies 39.4 (2008): 451–473.
  • Hallas, Karin, ed.20th Century Architecture in Tallinn (Tallinn, The Museum of Estonian Architecture, 2000)
  • Helemäe, Karl. Tallinn, Olympic Regatta city. ASIN B0006E5Y24.
  • Kattago, Siobhan. "War memorials and the politics of memory: The Soviet war memorial in Tallinn." Constellations 16.1 (2009): 150–166. online
  • Naum, Magdalena. "Multi-ethnicity and material exchanges in Late Medieval Tallinn." European Journal of Archaeology 17.4 (2014): 656–677. online
  • Õunapuu, Piret. "The Tallinn department of the Estonian National museum: History and developments." Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore 48 (2011): 163–196.
  • Pullat, Raimo. Brief history of Tallinn (Estopol, 1999).
  • Tannu, Elena (1990). The living past of Tallinn. ISBN 5-7979-0031-9.

Travel guides

  • Clare Thomson (February 2006). Tallinn. Footprint Publishing. ISBN 1-904777-77-5.
  • Neil Taylor (2004). Tallinn. Bradt City Guide. ISBN 1-84162-096-3.
  • Dmitri Bruns. Architectural Landmarks, Places of Interest. ASIN B0006E6P9K.
  • Sulev Maèvali. Historical and architectural monuments in Tallinn. ASIN B0007AUR60.

External links

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