If Tallinn is the actual capital of Estonia, Pärnu is the “summer” capital, then Tartu is considered to be the “intellectual” capital, primarily due to the venerable University of Tartu, built in 1632 by the Swedish king Gustav Adolf. In addition, Tartu is the second largest and most populated city in Estonia, but despite this, the Old Town of Tartu is quite compact and can be explored in two to three hours.
If there is enough time at your disposal, I recommend spending at least one night in Tartu and exploring the "university capital" without rush and fuss. For an overnight stay in Tartu, I can safely recommend solid three-star hotel (Bucking rating 8.5) on the banks of the Emajõgi River, near the beach, very good Hotel Tartu (rating 8.5) with an excellent location - within walking distance of the Old Town and Aura Water Park, as well as amazing eco-friendly apartments Domus dorpatensis (Review rating 9.3), located in a medieval house. In all three places, I stayed during my several visits to Tartu in 2016-2017 - and I was invariably very pleased.
I bring to your attention your itinerary in the center of Tartu, we will call it “10 best sights of Old Tartu”:
1. Tartu Town Hall Square and City Hall
Tartu Town Hall Square
This is the third building of the town hall, the two previous ones burned down in the fires of the XVII and XVIII centuries:
A romantic sculpture has been erected in front of the town hall, which has now become a symbol of the city: the fountain "Kissing students«:
According to legend, two young lovers walked along the streets of old Tartu, and suddenly it started to rain. The guy took out an umbrella, hugged the girl and kissed, and the girl, at the moment of happiness, wished that the kiss would never end. Heaven heard her request and was not slow to fulfill - an arrow fell from the sky and turned the lovers into stone. So they stand now in an eternal kiss, turning into one of the most important symbols of Old Tartu. But you could live and live ... Fear your desires - they sometimes come true!
A little south of Town Hall Square on the street Kuuni one of the most famous monuments of Tartu - “Father and son»Sculptor Hulot Yoon:
Tartu: sculpture "Father and Son"
The sculptor himself became the model for the father, and for the child - his son Christian at the age of one and a half years. It is interesting that both figures are the same in size. And, judging by the brilliance, someone rubs certain places of the statues “for good luck”)
Monument to Pirogov near Tartu Town Hall Square:
3. University of Tartu (Uulikooli, 18)
The building of the University of Tartu was built at the beginning of the 19th century on the site of the Church of St. Mary, destroyed during the Northern War. Over time, the portico on the main facade of the university has become a symbol of higher education in Estonia.
In a small square opposite the building of the University of Tartu, you can see a modest monument to Jan Tonisson - journalist and politician, former Prime Minister of Estonia in 1918-1919 and the head of state from 1928 to 1929, as well as in 1933:
Tartu: Monument to Jan Tonisson
In addition, Tonisson owned one of Estonia's largest newspapers, Postimees. Such publicity did not benefit politics: after the establishment of Soviet power in Estonia in 1940, he was arrested and there was no more news about his fate, even the date and place of his death were unknown.
Amusing stoppers for cars on Küyutli street 2, opposite the university - in the form of either hares or some other eared animals:
North of the city hall down the street Ruutli Another of Tartu's attractions is located:
4. Church of St. John
Heavily damaged during the Second World War, the Church of St. John was only relatively recently restored.
Tartu: St. John's Church
Next to the church is another noteworthy street of old Tartu:
5. Tartu Attractions - Jaani Street
Its main attractions are Tampere House (Jaani, 4) and Uppsala House (Jaani, 7) - their names are explained by the close ties that the city of Tartu maintained with Finnish Tampere and the Swedish university city of Uppsala.
Tartu: “Uppsala House”
In house number 16 you can see the “Museum of a Citizen of the 19th Century”, where the atmosphere of those times is carefully recreated.
After exploring the street Jaani I recommend on a very picturesque street Lutsu walk to the hill Toomemyagi - Another attraction of the city of Tartu.
7. Toomemägi Hill
In the park on the top of the hill stands a statue of an imposing man named Christian Jakob Petersen - a poet, writer, one of the “fathers” of modern Estonian literature and a graduate of the University of Tartu. A rather extraordinary appearance was a man:
He described himself as “the peasant poet of Estonia” and was not known among his compatriots during his life - the name Petersen attracted the attention of the public only after his manuscripts were found in the archives of the Estonian Scientific Society.
On the southeastern edge of Toomemägi hill, the ancient fortress of Tartu once stood, destroyed in 1224 by the crusaders. Later, a bishop’s castle was built in its place, but he was also lucky: the castle was destroyed during the Northern War. On the northern edge of the hill, at the same time as the bishop’s castle, a cathedral was erected, destroyed in 1624 by a fire, the ruins of which can still be seen today:
8. The ruins of the cathedral in Toomemyagi park
Judging by the symmetrical holes in the walls, restoration work is underway on the ruins of the cathedral. Apparently, they are still trying to restore it completely, but so far not very successfully:
Tartu: Cathedral Ruins
Or it’s just that they are Estonians, they are not in a hurry ...
Nevertheless, the far half of the ancient cathedral has been restored, and the Museum of the University of Tartu is located in it:
University of Tartu Museum
The park on the top of the hill is a pretty pleasant place for unhurried walks: buildings of calm colors, monuments, mossy stones, ruins of the cathedral ...
Everything is peaceful, sedate, measured.
9. Angel Bridge and Devil's Bridge
There are two beautiful bridges on Toomemägi Hill: one, painted, is called the “Angel Bridge”, and the second, unpainted, is the “Devil's Bridge”:
Tartu: Angel Bridge
Tartu: Devil's Bridge
There are several versions of the origin of the name of the first of them: for example, some believe that the name came from "English bridge“Others - that the bridge owes its name to a memorial medal with an angel-like image of the rector of the University of Tartu Perrota, fixed on the bridge span. The second bridge is named so simply for symmetry :-)
Both of them are thrown across the street Lossi:
Tartu: Lossi Street
10. Tartu Observatory
The Tartu Observatory was built at the beginning of the 19th century and its builders took similar structures of the universities of Goth, Göttingen and Uppsala as samples.
This building with a neoclassical facade and an observation tower, which was originally crowned with a dome, had a meridian circle in the western hall of the observatory. In 1825, a lens telescope was installed in the Tartu Observatory, which at that time became the largest in the world and which is still used by amateur astronomers.
How to get to Tartu
Plane : once a week planes fly from Tallinn to Tartu, travel time is about 45 minutes - in my opinion, this method loses both to the bus and train, since it is unlikely that you will be able to get to Tallinn faster by plane: first you will need a couple of hours before departure to arrive at the airport, then there is a chance that the flight will be delayed, and after arrival it will be necessary to wait for luggage and somehow get from the airport to the center of Tartu - all this will take time a little less than a bus, at an incomparable ticket price.
Train : trains leave for Tartu from the Tallinn Baltic Station four to five times a day, and the journey takes about 4 hours.
Bus: Buses to Tartu also depart from the Tallinn Baltic Station, they run more often than trains, and buses often have Wi-Fi.
And the last - but, from my point of view, the best way - Tartu is very convenient to visit, moving from Russia to Tallinn by car across the border at the Koytula and Luhamaa checkpoints, Tartu is located about an hour from the Russian border.
Useful articles about Estonia:
Cultural and historical sights of Tartu with photos and descriptions
A city with a thousand-year history has been subjected to architectural changes more than once. The whole cause of the war and fires, which almost completely destroyed the original appearance of each building. The greatest tragedy was the fire of 1775, when almost the whole city was burned. But it pleases that culture is not subject to natural disasters in any way, so after some time the city was rebuilt anew. In addition, most of the national traditions were born here, which made Tartu the cradle of Estonian cultural life. I will try to tell you about my impressions of Tartu and what you can see in the city, spending a minimum of time.
The first thing I decided to do in Tartu was to Town Hall Square in the Old Town, where the heart of the square flaunted - City Hall buildingbuilt in 1786 the year before which the main market was once located. Now this area has much greater attractiveness. The current building of the Town Hall is a structure built for the third time. Medieval wars left no stone unturned from the first building, so the city office had to occupy a room in a neighboring pharmacy from 1642.
After more than 50 years, the Swedes dominating in Estonia are building a new town hall building, but during the Northern War, not only the new structure was destroyed, but also the neighboring pharmacy. The architect of the current building of the town hall was Johann Walter, who was able to give the building a special magnetism. As early as the 18th century, the ground floor of the building was used as a prison and a shelter for the poor.
Town Hall Square pleased and Crooked house, which attracts the eyes of anyone passing by. Construction dates 1793 year. At that time, there was a city wall near the house, which served as a support on one side, and on the other, support was provided with the help of long poles resting against a neighboring building. Among locals, the building is called the Tartu Leaning Tower of Pisa. The second name is the Barclay House, whose history began as a result of the death of the important commander Barclay de Tolly in 1819, when the widow of the deceased acquired this building and lived here for a short time. The appearance of the structure fits very well into the architectural ensemble of the square.
There he met with the country's oldest university - University of Tartufounded in the middle of the XVII century. The author was the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf and called him Academicia gustaviana. The university structure consists of 9 faculties and 5 colleges, where more than 17,000 students study, 600 of which are foreigners. He was impressed by the main building of the University of Tartu, built at the beginning of the 19th century by the architect Johan Wilhelm Krause. He won the attraction with his classic Estonian architecture, which is simply mesmerizing.
Do not miss such architectural buildings:
- Fortress Dorpat, Neuhausen, Kirumpäe, Helme, Laiuse and Tarvastu.
- Castles of Uue Castre, Põltsamaa and Kursi.
- Tyravere Observatory.
Monuments of Tartu
The most memorable for me was Kissing Students Fountain on Town Hall Square, depicting students in love. The original monument-fountain was installed back in 1948 a year that literally immediately gained popularity among the inhabitants of the city, becoming a favorite vacation spot. The modern fountain stands on the square a little less than 20 years and is decorated with bronze figures of young people, the creation of which was the responsibility of the sculptor Mati Carmine. In 2006, the monument was supplemented with special plates telling about sixteen twin cities.
A small white building also caught my attention - Mausoleum of Barclay de Tollyhaving columns and a triangular pediment at the entrance. The mausoleum dates from 1823, the project of which was carried out by the famous architect Peter Apollon Shchedrin. Inside the mausoleum you can see the tombstone, and in the basement, according to the stories, there are sarcophagi with the bodies of Barclay de Tolly and his wife.
Could not pass by Monument to the Two Wildededicated to the famous writers Oscar Wilde and Edward Wilde. The author of the monument, an Estonian artist, came up with the idea of fantasizing about a meeting of two pen workers, although in reality the classics have never seen each other. The idea was embodied in a monument, near which you just can not help but take a photo.
A nearby surprised sculptural composition "Father and son", depicting a man and his son going to the Town Hall Square nude.
In addition, the city is rich in other interesting monuments:
- scientists - Pirogov Nikolai Ivanovich, Friedrich Felmann, Morgenstern, Ernst von Bergmann, Hugo Treffner, Wilhelm Ostwald and astronomer Friedrich Struve,
- cultural figures - Kreutzwald, Oscar Luts, Jacob Hurt, Friedebert Touglas, Kristjan Jaak Peterson and Eduard Tubin,
- historical figures - Peeter Pöld, Jan Tynisson, Willem Reiman, the Swedish ruler Gustav II Adolf, Johan Skitte, commander Barclay de Tolly.
Museums in Tartu
The most valuable examples of Estonian paintingrelated to the XX century, was able to observe in the meetings Tartu Art Museum. In addition, the museum has numerous works related to the XIX century. This is the work of famous artists: Karl Ludwig Maybach, Paul Raud, Johan Köhler and others. The genre diversity of the museum is striking, from portraits to landscapes. Often, temporary exhibitions are also located here.
I advise you to look into such museums of the city:
- Toy museum.
- Estonian Post Museum.
- Oscar Luts House Museum.
- Museum of the Blind.
- Exhibition House of the Estonian National Museum.
- Estonian Sports Museum.
- Museum of Estonian Literature.
- Estonian National Museum.
The student capital of Estonia has something to boast of - its bridges. Those that are in the old part of the city were symbolically installed and many legends and traditions still go about them. Among them are the most famous Bridges - Angels and Devilswhich are located very close.
Angel Bridge - Inglisild - was erected in 1838. Its author was the architect J.V. Krause. The bridge is decorated with an interesting bas-relief with an inscription in Estonian, meaning "Rest restores strength."
Devil's Bridge - Curadisild - Built by the Tartu architect Arved Eichhorn and dates from the beginning of the 20th century. The bridge also surprised with a bronze bas-relief of the emperor with the inscription "Aleksandro Primo".
Be sure to also walk along the practical bridges that connect the banks of the Emajõgi River:
- Arochny, which is a continuation of the Town Hall Square,
- Of freedomproviding movement of cars.
What to see in Tartu for a tourist in 1 day
I advise you to use this list-route for a walk in Tartu, because the city is rich in various attractions, and it’s difficult to figure out what to see in one day. Therefore, the best option would be to visit the Old Town with Tartu business cards:
- Town Hall Square with many historical sites and National Geographic symbols.
- Tartu Town Hall with eighteen bells.
- Falling house similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
- Kissing Students Fountain with bronze sculptures frozen in a passionate kiss.
- Monuments Father and son, Struve, Eduard Tubin, Oscar Wilde and Eduard Wilde, Johan Skitte and other monuments, introducing tourists to the famous personalities of the city and country.
- Bridge of Angels and Devil's Bridge.
Where to go with children in Tartu
- AHHAA Science and Entertainment Center with a water entertainment room, an elevator to the bowels of the earth, a rotating tunnel, a curved room and a room of mirrors, a bicycle on a cable under the ceiling, a manually controlled elevator, a planetarium and an airplane flight simulator.
- Theater house with performances and games of the theater world
- Toy museum with toys for every taste, cinema dolls, a room for games and skill.
- Botanical Garden with 6,500 species of plants from different climatic zones of the Earth, and Estonia’s largest palm greenhouse.
- Aura Water Center with pool, water park, bath complex and jacuzzi.
blockquote_gray »In the world there are so many water parks for children and adults. If you like traveling around Europe, then visit the Legoland children's entertainment park in Germany or the Lebyazhy water park in Minsk. I think you and your kids will really like it. / Blockquote_gray