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 Editor's Review
Amber roofs rest atop pastel Gothic and Romanesque façades. Sturdy cone-topped turrets and elaborate 17th-century spires crowned with filigree weathervanes tower over medieval squares. Secret cobbled courtyards thrive with market stalls and artisan shops. Set free in 1991 after a bloodless revolution, Estonia’s entrepreneurial spirit is up to par with the city’s heyday as a Hanseatic trading centre. Toompea castle stands confident above the city, inviting you to drink in the view. There are Tsarist legacies to be proud of – Peter the Great’s miniature Versailles out at Kadriog Park or the onion domes of Nevski Cathedral – but Soviet shadows have made way for hip cellar brasseries, stylish lounge bars and giant clubs that reverberate to a whole new beat.
Estonia only came into existence through the retreat of the last ice age – it’s an old country. It has always had strong maritime links; the capital Tallinn being a major port for the Middle Ages Hanseatic League and now a highly popular sailing centre. Tallinn is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and the Old Town is a tourist treasure of history and beautiful architecture with narrow cobbled streets, ramparts and towers. The 13th century St Olav’s church was long the tallest building in the world and is still hugely impressive, as is the superb Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Other enduring monuments are castles such as Toompea, used by Estonia’s parliament. After centuries of foreign oppression, the present freedom was sparked by 1989’s ‘Singing Revolution’ by a 2 million-strong human chain, somehow typical of Estonian life – the national Song Festival is a huge event with its own permanent site. Outside Tallinn, lie magnificent forests and mountains, perfect for summer hiking and winter sports – Nordic and Alpine skiing, snowboarding, and novel snow-tubing. Less-known is Estonians love of marzipan; Tallinn’s Marzipan Room boasts a vast and delicious array of every form of the sweetmeat.

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