Monday, February 17, 2014

#42: Alexander Nevsky Cathedral!

As mentioned in my last post, Tallinn’s old city is gorgeous with its cobblestone streets, medieval passageways, and colourful buildings.  The entrance into the old city was a throwback to medieval times when a long wall and series of towers guarded the city.

Once inside, however, the look and feel became strictly modern Western European.  Well-maintained buildings housed fancy boutiques, cute restaurants, and more than a few souvenir shops.

For me, the jewel of the old city was the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a gorgeous Russian Orthodox Church built in the late 1800’s.  As a Russian building, it was once viewed negatively by Estonians and, with many other churches under Soviet rule, was left to decline.  After independence, however, the church was restored and is now somewhat of a symbol of the city.  And what a pretty symbol it is!

Pictures weren’t allowed inside the building, unfortunately, but I snapped a few of the outside and am pleased to have crossed this site off my list of 103 Things.

Aside from the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, I also visited St Olav’s Church.

While the architecture itself wasn’t as grandiose as the Nevsky, the best part of this church was its tower.  A narrow, winding 258 steps led up to the top where sweeping views of the city could be found.  When I arrived in the morning, the skies were gray and dreary, but somewhere between step 1 and step 258, the sun did me a favour and poked out.

I wandered around more of the old city, hitting up the medieval street of Katariina Kaik, following the old city walls, and finding my way to Raekoja Plats, the central square.

I also visited the hilariously named Kiek in de Kok (ok, it’s only hilarious if you’re English-speaking and immature like me, but come on… kick in the cock!)  The name actually means something along the lines of “peep into the kitchen” because of the ability of occupants in the tower to look down into homes and other buildings.  The tower was one of many surrounding Tallinn and contained cannons and other artillery to protect the city.  Nowadays, it contains a museum about the city.  Of course, I was instantly drawn to the maps portion of the museum and learned that Estonia once belonged to the Swedish Empire.

Atop a one of the city’s hills, my big walking tour wound down at one of the best viewpoints over the whole city.

It was from this point that I could really see the old versus the new represented in the buildings in the background.

Tallinn was a surprising and enchanting city, and while I was sad to leave, I was excited to get back across the gulf and check out what Helsinki had on offer.

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