Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, one of the three Baltic countries that achieved independence from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Tallinn has many houses of prayer, including a Roman Catholic Church, within its old town walls. The spires of some of these churches dominate the skyline. The old town is a beautiful place just to wander around and walking is the best way to see all the churches.
On the edge of the Toompea district, opposite the National Library, stands Charles’s Church, regarded as the centre of the Estonian Lutheran Church. It gets its name from the previous church occupying the site, a wooden structure built in the late 1600’s during the reign of King Charles XI of Sweden. This church was burnt down in 1710 by the Russians. The site then lay vacant for 150 years before the current church was built over a period of 20 years in the late 1800s. The interior seated 1,500 people and allowed Estonians to meet in large numbers at a time when Russian rule was being severe on any evidence of Estonian nationalism. Today, to emphasize this point, the funerals of notable Estonians are held in this church.
Walking along the street called Toompea towards the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral make sure to visit the Occupation Museum, which documents the times in the 20th Century when Estonia was occupied by either the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. Do not miss the statues of Communist notables in the basement outside the entrance to the washrooms.
‘I believe that the human face is the best document of time,’ says Birgit Püve. Since 2012, she has been capturing the humour and defiance, modernity and traditionalism in Estonia as the country forges ahead two decades after the last Soviet soldiers left