Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 1: Tallinn, Estonia

Tom is conducting field research in St Petersburg, Russia for two months.  We decided to meet for a holiday in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia (it is only a seven hour train ride from St Petersburg).  In addition to visiting Tallinn and Tom, I spent the night before I flew out with Jesse and Andrew in their new flat in London.  As a thank you I bought them a selection of cheeses from work, the remains of which can be seen on the table in the picture.

I arrive in Tallinn about 8 hours before Tom's train, giving me plenty of time to look around the Old Town, which is really small.  Tallinn is the largest city in Estonia and only has 300,000 people (the total population is 1.3 million).  Tom didn't arrive until late at night, so after he got in we went to a bar called Hell Hunt (Hell Hound) and then went to bed.  Not an extremely exciting day, but still good.  By the way, walking to the Tallinn Train station at night is kind of scary; ok, I tell a lie, very scary, especially if you go down the wrong road (like I did).

Before I go on to the next few days, I figure some history is in order (you knew it was coming at some point).   The following is an excerpt form a side bar in the free guide book I got at the TI called City Break Tallinn (pg 5).

8,000 - 3,000 BC: Finno-Ugric ancestors of the Estonians migrate to Baltic coast.

11th-12th centuries AD: Estonian clans use what is now the Tallinn area as marketplace and harbour; maintain wooden fortress on Toompea hill.

1154: Tallinn first mentioned in history records by Arab cartographer Al-Idris.

1219: Danish forces capture Tallinn.

1227-1238: German merchant families from Gotland settle at the base of Toompea, sewing the seeds of Tallinn as a German trading town.

13th-15th centuries: City sees massive growth as trading point between East and West.  In 1248, Tallinn adopts Lubeck Law, giving it self-governing status.  In 1284 it joins the Hanseatic League.

1346: Danes sell their Estonian holdings to the Linovian Order.

1558-1583: During the Linovian War, Tallinn was attacked and besieged by the forces of Ivan the Terrible.  Estonia ends up under Swedish rule [in exchange for help fending off Ivan, the Estonians subjected themselves to Swedish rule]

1710: Great Northern War (1700-1721) leaves Estonia under Russian Empire.  Tsar Peter the Great sets up summer estate in Kadriorg.

1860-1880: National Awakening gives Estonians a newfound sense of cultural identity.

1918: With World War I waging, Estonia declares independence on February 24.

1920-1930s: Independent Estonia established itself on world stage.

1940-1944: Red Army forces occupy and annex Estonia into the U.S.S.R.  Mass arrests deportations follow.  Nazi invasion in 1941 brings its own occupation and holocaust.  U.S.S.R. reinvades in 1944, tens of thousands flee to Sweden by ship.

1945-1991: Soviet occupation.  Estonia is cut off from the West.

1987-1988: The "Singing Revolution" - large-scale protest against Moscow rule in the form of traditional mass singing events.

1991: Estonia declares independence on August 20.

1990s: Economic transformation accompanied by widespread development of IT infrastructure.  In 1997, Tallinn is entered on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

2004: Estonia joins the European Union and NATO.

2011: The country becomes 17th member of the Eurozone.  Tallinn takes on its role as European Capital of Culture.

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