Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) with a population of 412,341. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, 80 km (50 miles) south of Helsinki, west of Saint Petersburg.
One of northern Europe's most beautiful and best-preserved medieval towns, Tallinn never fails to make a positive first impression. Tallinn boasts myriad cultural attractions, historical sights and entertainment options, but retains an absorbing intimacy and is easy to explore on foot.
The largely pedestrianized Old Town (Vanalinn) is Tallinn's heart. An enjoyable, atmospheric and ultimately addictive jumble of medieval churches, striking cobblestone alleyways, slender steeples, barrel-shaped towers and gabled merchants' houses, it was once enclosed by medieval walls, of which significant stretches still survive. Its street plan is a confusion of curving streets and interconnecting passageways.
European Capital of Culture 2011
Tallinn was confirmed by the European Commission as the European Capital of Culture 2011 on 16 November 2007. The year of the Capital of Culture is a great occasion for all Estonia.
By this day, the tradition of the European Capital of Culture has given more than 40 cities an opportunity to present their distinct and diverse culture to millions of people from all over the world during one year.
The status of the event and the attention it attracts give the city a good chance to transform the existing cultural scene – carrying out daring ideas, creating new cooperation projects, reinforcing the existing organisations and structures, and including more people in the cultural life, may it be as organisers or as participants.
The idea of launching the European Capital of Culture project came to life in 1985, when the Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs of the European Union decided that each year a European city would demonstrate its colourful cultural scene. The movement was proposed by Melina Mercouri, Minister of Culture of Greece. Back in that time, the project was called "European cities of culture".
As the enterprise was a great success from the beginning, its scope was extended, and since 1999, the selected cities are called European Capitals of Culture. Since 2005, two cities are named the Capitals of Culture at the same time, like Stavanger and Liverpool in this year. All cities located in the European Union can apply for the title of European Capital of Culture.