Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

By Jeanine Barone
Since the fall of the USSR, Tallinn has managed to look unblinkingly to the future while still retaining vital elements of its past. A hotbed of northern art and design encircling a UNESCO World Heritage site, this Baltic City is fast becoming an architect’s paradise.

Estonia’s capital city is located along the Baltic Sea, and though it may be synonymous with its medieval Old Town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Tallinn is hardly frozen in the 14th century. This thoroughly wired burgh, where citizens easily vote and pay parking tickets online, is a hotbed of technological and design innovation as well as the birthplace of the free Internet phone service, Skype. The old continues to inform the new. The Rotermann Quarter, a former factory district, is being transformed into an attractive mixed-use neighborhood with a contemporary art nouveau style while maintainingits 19th-century merchant motif. Kultuurikatel, an old power station with a dramatic 290-foot-high chimney along the 28-mile-long former industrial waterfront, will soon see new life as a cultural center. The waterfront, an off-limits military border zone during Soviet times, is the centerpiece of development in preparation for Tallinn’s becoming a European Cultural Capital for 2011.

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