Tallinn (recent historical name: Reval) is the capital city and main seaport of Estonia, located on Estonia's north coast to the Gulf of Finland, 80 kilometres south of Helsinki.
First mentioned in 1154, when Tallinn was marked on the world map of the Almoravid cartographer al-Idrisi. In 1285, the city became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League. Medieval Tallinn enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. The city, with a population of 8,000, was very well fortified with city walls and 66 defense towers. Before Independence Manifesto on February 24, 1918, the city was conquered by Danish, Swedish, and Russian authorities.
After manifesto, Estonia experienced a German occupation and a war of independence with Russia. On February 2, 1920, Tallinn became the capital of the independent Estonia. When World War II started, Estonia was occupied by the USSR in 1940 and later occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941-44. In 1944, after Nazi regime, Estonia was occupied by the USSR again which extensively bombed the city centre and old town. About 8,000 buildings were destroyed. During the Soviet era new suburbs were built to accommodate the massive immigration from Russia.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Estonia was one of the first countries to restore its independence. In August 1991, an independent democratic Estonian state was re-established and Estonia’s economy and politics were turned back to the west. Major investments came to Tallinn. Besides traditional economical sectors, Tallinn has also seen development of an information technology sector. The New York Times characterized Estonia as "a sort of Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea.”
Due to its dramatic history, the city is full of architectural contrasts. The picturesque old town and city centre co-exist with new towers of glass and steel. All of this diversity has made Tallinn a massive museum of architecture.