Gothic Town Hall – Tallinn

The Great Northern War, I refer of course not to the local difficulties between the Picts and Scots, or even to the social divide between Middlesborough and Newcastle, but to the early 18th Century difference of opinion between Russia and Sweden. Sweden then of course included the eastern province that we call Finland today, and also the Baltic states. Russia’s Peter the Great, formed a coalition with Denmark, Norway, Saxony, Poland and Lithuania to face down the Swedes. At the close of the war Sweden packed-up and went home refusing ever to fight again and have been ‘neutral’ ever since.

As a direct result of all that there is a strong Swedish influence in Estonia as well as the Russian influence from two periods, that of Peter the Great who built a palace here and the more recent history of annexation from the end of World War II until 1991.

The city itself is divided into two parts the old and the new. The old city dates back mainly to the 16th Century and has been sympathetically developed. Of the original 3½ miles of defensive wall and 46 fortified towers, just over 1 mile of wall and 26 towers survive today. The streets are crammed with tourist souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants, but all tastefully done.

Tallinn is a great stopover place for those going on Baltic holidays or visits to St Petersburg which is only just over 200 miles away.

I have been here for thirty-six hours long enough for most places. The two owners of the hotel I chose are, by chance, English and Classic Car Owners! One has a Triumph TR3 and the other a rather nice Bentley. They have hosted at the hotel both the Finnish MG Car Club and the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost club, so Bridget has felt very honoured.

I have just heard about a car museum in Riga and thought it would be good to pop-down there! However, according to their website the museum is under reconstruction, so I am trying to make special arrangements. Let you know.

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