Tallinn is a pretty city at all levels, but it takes on an almost fairytale quality the higher up you travel. With its red roofs and pretty spires, viewed from above, the Estonian capital looks completely untouched by time. And, luckily for visitors, there are plenty of viewing platforms dotted around, meaning you can admire the city from every angle.
Patkuli Viewing Platform
In order to reach Patkuli, travellers must scale Tallinn’s city walls on the edge of the Tornide väljak – or Tower Square. From here, it’s possible to see the city pretty much in its entirety. This allows visitors to gage the scale and layout of the medieval municipality while also drinking in the magical scenery. With that in mind, this view probably provides the best overview of Tallinn – showing the historic city encircled by red-capped fortifications and a sea of green.
A visit to the Linnamüür Plaform allows tourists to truly step back in time. After climbing a vertigo-inducing spiral staircase, visitors will emerge on top of Tallinn’s famous city walls. From there, they can enjoy the views from a small section of wall. It’s also possible to climb a few of the capital’s ancient watch towers. Entry costs €2, but that’s a pittance for the unique perspective into Tallinn’s past.
Kohtuotsa Viewing Platform
I’m going to make a bold statement here and say that this viewing platform offers the best panorama of Tallinn old town and the Baltic beyond. You feel that much closer to the action than on the other observation decks, while still maintaining a perspective distance. From here, everything looks so red and vibrant, making the city look even more inviting than ever before.
Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin Bell Tower
If you’re not afraid of enclosed spaces and perilous climbs, then this could be the option for you. Here, thrill-seekers can ascend a well-worn stone spiral staircase – that’s barely wide enough for one-way traffic, never mind two – to the top of the church’s bell tower.
Standing at 69-metres above street level, the tower offers a pretty impressive vista of Tallinn. Three sides of the steeple each frame a different panorama; one over the old town, one out to sea and one of the iconic Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
It costs €5 to climb the tower but that price also includes entry to the Lutheran cathedral. The church itself has a pretty interesting history. Founded by the Danes in the 13th century, it’s the oldest church in Tallinn and also in mainland Estonia. Today its white walls bear the coats of arms of the Estonian nobility dating from the 17th century, giving it a rather unique atmosphere.
St Olaf’s Church
Many people believe St Olaf’s Church Tower was the tallest building between the year 1549 to 1625. However, that claim is up for fierce debate. There’s no doubting though that the building is pretty tall, even by todays standards.
The building’s iconic spire was intended to be a signal to weary sailors that they were approaching the city. But, being so tall, the structure served an unintended purpose – providing the whole of Tallinn with a massive lightening rod. As a result, it has burned down three times. But luckily for us, the Estonians just kept rebuilding it.
Being one of the tallest buildings in the city, the view from the church tower is pretty sensational. It’s possible to walk right round the base of the spire for a full panorama of the city. But, with that said, the best view is probably that looking back towards the old town with the famous spires of Tallinn sitting high on Toompea Hill.
So, that’s my round-up of the Estonian capital’s most eye-catching vistas. However, there’s no doubt countless more views to be enjoyed across the city. So, if you know of any others, let me know in the comments below.