Eastern and Central Europe (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

(Ben Green) #1

Toompea Castle^0

Toompea loss

Lossi plats 1a. Map B4. Tel 631

  1. v 3, 4. # 10am–4pm
    Mon–Fri. 8 call in advance. 7
    ^ http://www.riigikogu.ee

The unassuming pink façade
of Toompea Castle belies the
history behind this vital seat
of power. The castle now
houses the Riigikogu
(Estonia’s Parliament), but for
some 700 years it belonged to
various occupying foreign
powers. In the 9th century, a
wooden fortress stood on the
site, which was conquered by
the Danes in 1219, who then
constructed the stone forti-
fications around the hill,
much of which still survives.
The architecturally diverse
castle complex features the
50-m (164-ft) Pikk Hermann
Tower, above which flies the
Estonian flag. The unique-
looking Riigikogu, which was
built in 1922, is situated in the
castle courtyard. Toompea was
a town in itself enjoying its
own rights and privileges until
1878, when it was merged with
the rest of Tallinn below.

The austere façade of Toompea Castle

Alexander Nevsky

Cathedral q
Aleksander Nevski

Lossi plats 10. Map B4. Tel 644

  1. v 3, 4. # 8am–7pm daily.
    ^ = http://www.orthodox.ee

The imposing Alexander
Nevsky Cathedral was built
between 1894 and 1900, under

orders from Tsar Alexander
III. As intended, the Neo-
Byzantine edifice dominates
Castle Square (Lossi Plats) with
its towering onion domes and
golden crosses. A number of
icons, mosaics and the bell
for the tower were carried all
the way from St Petersburg.
Legend has it that the
cathedral was built on the
grave of the Estonian folk hero
Kalev. However, it is named
after the sainted Russian Duke
Alexander Nevsky (1219–63),
who defeated the Livonian
knights on the banks of Lake
Peipsi in 1242 and conquered
a great part of Estonia.
Disliked by many Estonians
as a symbol of the Russification
policies of Alexander III, it
was due to be demolished in
1924, but the controversial
plan was never carried out.
The extravagant altar is
made up of a dazzling display
of icons, while the sheer scale
of the cathedral’s interior is
equally impressive.

Kadriorg Palace w
Kadrioru loss

Weizenbergi 37. Map F1. Tel 606

  1. May–Sep: 10am–5pm Tue–

    Sun; Oct–Apr: 10am–5pm Wed–Sun.
    & 8 7 - = http://www.ekm.ee

Built in 1718 under orders
from the Russian Tsar Peter
the Great, this palace was
meant to serve as a summer
residence for the imperial
family. The palace was named
Kadriorg – which means
Catherine’s Valley in Estonian –
to honour his wife, Empress
Catherine. Designed by the
famous Italian master architect
Nicola Michetti, it was built in
Baroque style and made to
look like an Italian villa. The
main attraction of the palace,
however, is the astonishingly
ornate Great Hall, which
ranks among the finest exam-
ples of Baroque exuberance
in North Eastern Europe.
Kadriorg Palace today
houses the Museum of
Foreign Art which has an
excellent col lection of
European paintings and
sculpture. The palace is also
used as a venue for lectures
and theatre perform ances.
Just behind the palace, in
the kitchen build ing, is the
Mikkel Museum which has
some 600 works of foreign
art, including a selec tion of
European, Chinese and
Russian paint ings, dona ted by
Johannes Mikkel (1907–2006).
Also worth a visit is the
magni fi cently designed Kumu
Art Museum near the palace. It
is one of the five branches of
the Art Museum of Estonia.

The manicured ornamental garden of Kadriorg Palace
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