Summer 2016. This is the second time I am visiting Toompea Hill in Tallinn, Estonia. The first visit was September 2007, on our honeymoon.
Toompea was built as a stronghold by the danes. Then came german merchants in the 11th century, and Tallinn was divided into the lower town (around the town hall square) and the upper town, which is Toompea. In the 12th century, the danish king sold Tallinn to Germany (reminds me of how Spain sold my country the Philippines to US) and the city flourished.
As we walk around Toompea hill, I remember the portal to the hill, the cobbled ascent, the café run by a potter and the imposing Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with its imposing onion domes and crosses. I also still remember the viewpoint where tourists flock to see the city down below. I got my first green amber in Tallinn – a pair of dangling earrings – as a honeymoon present. The Baltic states are known for their ambers.
This second time of visit, we are able to see more and register more information.
Let me start with Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the beautiful neo-byzantine church that was actually disliked by many Estonians because it reminded them of Russification policies under Alexander III , the emperor of Russia, king of Poland, and grand duke of Finnish (so many titles, such vast power!).
“Russification” meaning he removed foreign institutions – German, Swedish, Danish and Polish – and ridiculed Slavophilia. At first I thought that Slavophilia is simply loving anything Slavic. It turns out there was an intellectual movement in the 19th called Slavophilia, which disliked western influences, and wanted Russian empire to develop values based on its earlier history, i. e. Slavic.
The church was so despised that it was due to be demolished in 1924. But then again, the plan wasn’t carried out.
We are able to get inside Russian orthodox church, but it is forbidden to take photos.
More about the sights in Toompea hill soon…