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Fat Margaret, Tallinn, Source: Visit Estonia

Tallinn’s Old Town seen in new light

Tallinn’s Old Town seen in new light

One of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe can be rediscovered thanks to the Vaata Vanalinna project

At a time when pandemic restrictions are keeping a stranglehold on travel and tourism, an innovative project helps residents and guests of Tallinn to rediscover one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe located at the heart of Estonia’s capital. 

Highlighting the cultural heritage

As part of the Vaata Vanalinna (See the Old Town) project, 40 historical landmarks, including Fat Margaret Museum and Visitor Centre, Patkuli steps, Kiek in de Kök artillery tower and Tall Hermann tower, have been recently illuminated, creating alluring light tracks after dark. Now, Old Town visitors can better trace these objects and delve deeper into their history with a free map application and an audio guide specially created for their convenience.

Compared to its predecessor, the new lighting solution is not just more welcoming but more energy-efficient as well. The almost 600 LED luminaires installed to the towers and walls of the Old Town ensure a 20-fold reduction in energy consumption and create a cosy environment due to the soft, warm light they emit.  

According to historian Jaak Juske, quoted by the city website, the new lighting solution highlights the construction stages of the medieval city wall which was upgraded throughout three centuries. "The invention of cannons forced the defensive wall to be constantly thicker and taller, adding defensive towers. The city wall was more than two kilometres long at the time, and despite the fact that six city gates were almost completely demolished in the 19th century, most of the wall has survived to this day. Although a large portion of the buildings in the Old Town have been rebuilt in later centuries and the Second World War also left its scars, the distribution of houses and the network of streets have largely remained unchanged since the Middle Ages,” explains the Estonian scholar, urging everyone to visit this UNESCO world heritage site.

Free map and audio guide

See the Old Town in New Light map application and audio guide, with instructions for their use, are available on the project’s website in English, Estonian and Russian. The audio-guided light tracks are open all the time and free to everyone.

The Vaata Vanalinna project is a good example of cross-border public-private partnership. Finnish company Lighting Design Collective Oy is the author of the lighting project, having won the competition organized by the city of Tallinn in 2017. The project was financed by the municipal real estate company Kapitel and the lighting solution was designed and built by Merko. The city of Tallinn is responsible for the operation, maintenance and repair of the lighting installation, and ensures the electricity supply of equipment and information stands.

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