May 2019

The forests and cleared forests of Estonia

I took the bus from Pärnu to Tartu (Lux Express, 9 euros) and passed through more forests, including areas which had been cleared and the church on the mound in Viljandi, approximately half way along the 105 kilometre journey between the two cities.

Tartu is the second largest city with 101.000 inhabitants and the total population of the country is smaller than the population of Bucharest.

Tartu University

Located in eastern Estonia, it’s known for the prestigious, 17th-century University of Tartu (the population is made up of one fifth students). The old town is centred around the university’s neoclassical main building, and the cafe-filled Town Hall Square, home to the Kissing Students fountain.

The Kissing Students fountain.

The modern Science Centre AHHAA has hands-on exhibits and a 4D cinema.

Kirik (a bit like Scots kirk) St John’s (above and below).

Still in use but in a poor state of repair

In contrast to Estonia’s political and financial capital Tallinn, Tartu is often considered the intellectual and cultural hub.

Tartu is renowned for its beautiful pastel coloured 18th century buildings

Cars actually stop if you want to cross the road.

There are hiking tracks along the banks of the river Emajõgi, and I am told that you can be in a more natural environment in 15 minutes, but the weather was very cold until my last hour, so I didn’t go there until then.

St Paul’s red turret – detail

If you stay at Hektor Design Hotel or the Looming hostel, don’t believe g…. maps about how to get to the tourist part of the town! Instead, wind your way through the streets which are parallel and at right angles to Rïgli, and you will find all sorts of interesting places:

The University natural history museum
Impressive graffiti
Karl Luik, mayor of Tartu 1920-34
The award winning architecture of St Luke’s United Methodist Church, Tartu, Estonia

Next to Looming is a yoga centre and I had a lovely class with Anna Morozova (see YogawithAnna on Facebook).

I stayed in Hektor which has a lot going for it – a clean, private, single room with writing desk and a kitchenette and toilet right outside, shared with 3 other rooms, but there is no sound proofing and every door closing and footstep echoed and reverberated. For an extra 3 and 5 euros you can use the washing machine / dryer (once) and sauna (unlimited) respectively. I had the latter (women separate from men) to myself all 3 times I used it. There is a cafe downstairs which looked good, a smart, shared kitchen and a book collection to borrow from. Other downsides: there is something wrong with the drains so my shower / toilet smelled terrible, it is on a very busy main road, quite pricy, the basement where the sauna and stuff was creepy, especially in the evenings, and it was approximately half an hour’s walk from the centre.

The Toomemägi Park is on a steep hill and is well worth a visit: a beautiful green area, cafe, playpark and below –

The Observatory
The ruined Tartu Cathedral, in hilltop Toomemägi Park, has two restored towers with viewing platforms
Chimneys coming out of grassy mounds. This was my view when I did my Tai chi one morning
The Angel Bridge, named after either the English or the pretty face of Rector Parrot
The Devil Bridge
View from the park

To find the park, go to the foot of the hill by the playpark, in front of the pink church which is now a kino / cinema and either climb the steps or walk up the cobbles under the Angel Bridge (above).

This debonair gentleman stands in the calm sitting area next to the Elektricteater cinema

Here was my favourite café – Kohvik Krempel is a few minutes walk from the main square. The middle two photos are of an Estonian healthy drink called … which was different both times I had it (one to be eaten with a spoon and the other the consistency of coffee – it’s cold, made with oatmeal, fruit and kefir – delicious!

Like lots of the coffee shops, it looks shut from the outside. Do not be deterred!

I loved the Botanic Gardens.

Bridge looking towrads the main house, Botanic Gardens, Tartu
Spring’s bright colours – tulips
Pansies, hyancinth and tulips in contrasting colours

oznorReflections and Dandelion

Lillies in front of the ornamental lake, bridge and summer house
They have an extensive collection of mosses and lichens
The glasshouses

Other sights include the Toy Musem:

Tartu Toy Museum with lots of barbies

The leaning art museum:

Unfortinately closed between exhibitions, when I was there

The theatre museum:

Theatre Museum, Tartu

The Natural History Museum

The side of the Natural History Museum – the windows are an art work

It turned out that the charming Kogo Gallery was a minute away from my hostel. I was impressed by the woman who watched over it (friendly, helpful and knowledgeable), as well as by the exhibition of Ede Raadik‘s Sailin’ on the Red Sea contemporary art work.

In a cosy square with cafes and interesting buildings.

The black, white and gold building I have used for the title photo is the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Tartu.

Visit Tartu city blog

City planner blog

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