Estonia may not be on the usual tourist trail, but this year it's a must-see destination. In particular, the capital city, Tallinn, an unspoiled medieval delight which has been chosen as one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2011.
The history of Tallinn has its roots back in the thirteenth century, when Vikings came to the land of lakes and forests that is the present day Baltic republic of Estonia. Despite the ravages of the intervening centuries, Tallinn remains such a well-preserved example of a north European trading town that it's not in the least surprising that it was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO back in 1997. Its medieval setting is complete with quaint houses, narrow streets, an impressive castle, churches and mansions, and the picturesque main square, typical of the city's commercial heritage, now bustles with cafes and restaurants. Trading towns are open to influence from many sides, and Tallinn is no exception: the beautiful city displays an interesting blend of cultures and architectural styles from Russian to German and Scandinavian. Our photo gallery focuses on some of the delightful scenes that await you if you accept our suggestion and make Tallinn the destination for your next getaway.
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Tallinn's Old Town was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997
During the winter months, this outdoor skating rink is set up in Harju Street, alongside the church of St. Nicholas in the Old Town
St Catherine's Passage is one of the most picturesque alleyways of the Old Town, and houses craft shops where speciality glass, leather and textile work is on sale, made in the workshops using traditional methods
The spectacular Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox church built in 1900 when the country was part of the tsarist Russian empire
The Town Hall Square, once the main market place, has been the central point of Tallinn for the last eight centuries; today it is one of the busiest tourist areas
The winter snow can only make the beautiful city all the more like a picture postcard
Everyone in Tallinn loves ice skating and even after dark, when the temperatures fall, the locals still take to the streets on their skates
Even on the coldest days of winter, the streets of Tallinn’s Old Town bustle with activity
During the Estonian winter, the weather is extreme, snow covers the whole country and rivers and lakes freeze over
In summer, the cafes and restaurants around the Town Hall Square set tables outside, making it an ideal place to enjoy an al fresco drink or meal
Toompea, a limestone hill in the centre of Tallinn, is the setting for Toompea Castle, home to Estonia's government