Estonia: Tartu

Tartu lies 185 kms south of Tallinn and this town of 93,00 people is an easy town to like. Parks, a river with cycle and walking tracks, an attractive old town and energetic young students pretty much sums up Tartu. Our two days here sped by.

Tartu is the intellectual hub of Estonia honoured with the oldest university in Europe. It was built in 1632.



Town Hall Square


In Town Hall Square there is a Statue dubbed ‘Kissing Students’. The myth attached to it goes like this: Two students who are in love are walking down the dark streets of old town on an autumn night. They are laughing and kissing when it starts to rain. He opens his umbrella, gives the girl a hug and a kiss. Their love reaches heaven and she wishes the moment never ends. A blue arrow from heaven catches the couple and turns them to stone. Been a nice story since 1948.


These next photos are taken around Town Hall Square area.








Just near Old Town is the Emajõgi River.


This church was built in the mid 1300s.


Tartu Cathedral Towers must have been magnificent in its day. It was built in the mid 1200s but started crumbling in the 1800s.


In the parkland is this 1977 sculpture of father and son by Ulo Oun. It is himself and his 1.5 year old son. Oun is expressing ties between different generations.


Tartu Statue of Liberty commemorates the heroes who fell in the Independence War of 1918-1920.


Eesta Rahva Museum – Estonia’s National Museum is found here in Tartu and it gives an impressive social history of this country.



The human chain story is an interesting one. On the evening of 23 August 1989 at 7 pm, 2 million people held hands and formed a continuous human chain from Tallinn to Vilnius. Candles were lit to commemorate the victims of the Soviet occupation while people chanted ‘freedom’. ‘The Baltic Chain’ is in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register as an event that affected world history.


In August 1991, the Baltic states became independent of Soviet rule. Their freedom came at a price though. They did not have their own currency, defence force, border guard, banks or railways. The new political system brought a decrease in the standard of living and it wasn’t until 15 years later that life became more stable.

Opposite the Museum is the upside down house which gives you a whole different perspective of space. Estonia supports entrepreneurs in a big way and the young men who built this house and charge an entry admission fee, will have paid for it within two years. A remarkable feat.


We arrived in Tartu from Tallinn on board a Lux Express bus. I’d booked the tickets online a couple of days before. I liked this old bus on display at the Tallinn bus station.


Tomorrow, we are leaving Estonia and going to Latvia. We’ll be spending 4 nights in Riga the capital. Looking forward to our second Baltic country!

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