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  • Post published:May 31, 2020

Stone & Sea:
The Roots of Estonia


© By Sheila 

The past has been kept alive in Estonia. In the small Baltic country, traditions are still cherished and nurtured. A first look at a place where spiritual trust, art, and digitization have come together.

A look along the city walls of Tallinn on a summer day. The three colors of the Estonian flag symbolize the Zeitgeist that has prevailed in this country. Blue stands for loyalty and trust. Black for the past and ancestors and white, that symbolizes snow and the future. Anyone who familiarizes herself with the country will discover how interwoven these qualities and the identity of its people are. To this day, the Estonians are strongly connected to their country’s nature and legends. It is a fairytale land, and home to a dark sea, dense pine forests and historic relicts around almost every corner and beyond the ground we are walking.

Calligraphy Postcard, old Town Tallinn
I found a beautiful little calligraphy shop in the heart of Tallinn, right around the corner of this stunning square.

The settlement of Estonia began around 9000 BC and many of these first villages have been inhabited until today. It is fascinating how the Estonians guard and celebrate traditions from ancient times, traditions that originated well before the Viking Age. Nature has been the center of faith here for millennia. The trees were considered sacred and the woods as sources of strength. Forest spirits were worshiped and their alleged refuge is still treated with great respect by the Estonians these days. I find this aspect particularly exciting and visited a “magical” source in a wood near Tallinn. Indeed, families came here not only for fun, but remained impressively quiet and prayed around the little ponds.

Medieval house Tallinn Old Town
One of the countless medieval relicts in Tallinn, Estonia.

Tallinn itself radiates a special magic. I was able to experience it in a unique way, inmidst the strange vacuum of the Covid lockdown in April. The chimney smoke wobbles over the city all day, and many of the beautifully preserved houses are up to 600 years old. The modern buildings are carefully adapted to this architectural tradition. And what I loved most: Hidden in Tallinn’s tiny streets wait dozens of shop windows full of elves and sparkling crystals.

Tallinn Old Town View from above
View from the old city gate: The historic town center of Tallinn.

There are dark shadows in the Estonian chronicles. The independent Estonian people were oppressed for long periods and had to fight for their identity again and again. Could it be that people’s friendly distance comes from this trauma? I asked a museum guide about it. He thought that was true gradually, but for the most part it is simply due to the Nordic nature. It fascinated me and stands in stark contrast to the Netherlands, where people immediately speak plain text to strangers.

Historic church Tallinn
Historic Church, app. 14th century. Tallinn Old Town.

What has remained is a proud and innovative country (Estonia is one of the pioneers of digitization in the EU). And yet, the modern developments of the past few years have been shaped by the Estonian roots. First thoughts, to be continued.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral View
View on the beautiful Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the heart of Tallinn.
Tallinn Old Town
Another medieval beauty in the old town of Tallinn
Tallinn Old Town with a drink
Enjoying daylight till 11pm in the old town of Tallinn.

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