On foot, the best way to reach Toompea, Cathedral Hill, is from Town Hall Square 1. Leave the square by the street named Voorimehe, which is in the middle of its narrowest side.

At its end is a gateway that leads to Pikk jalg, meaning the Long Leg. This is one of the two roads linking the old town to Cathedral Hill. We'll come back by the other one, a short, steep alley called Lühige jalg or Short Leg.Highslide JS

With a few exceptions, Cathedral Hill is not as interesting architecturally as the Old Town. Most of its buildings are government and administration.

There is little to buy and it falls quiet in the early evening, when the pubs and clubs below it are just getting going. But because it is a hill, it offers fine views of the Old Town and the new city beyond.

RUSSIAN CATHEDRALLong Leg street emerges onto Cathedral Hill behind the 2 Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, brightly coloured and topped by cupolas.Highslide JS

It is a Russian Orthodox church, built in 1894-1900, when Estonia was part of the Russian Empire. It is dedicated to Alexander Nevsky, an early Russian prince. For his skill at slaying enemies, he was made a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Building a Russian church on this spot was a slap in the face for Estonian nationalists, who scheduled it for demolition after the country became independent in the 1920s. Fortunately the demolition order was not carried out.Highslide JS

Since Estonia took back its independence from the Soviet Union in 1988, the Cathedral has been carefully restored.

From the church walk down Kohtu street to the observation platform 3 for a fine view over the Old Town.

LUTHERAN CATHEDRAL
The other large church on the hill is far older and dates from the time when the Danes controlled this area. The stone church, completed in 1240, is now the Cathedral of St Mary the Virgin.

It is more commonly known as the Dome Church 4 because its name in Estonian is Toomkirik. Highslide JSActually toom means cathedral and the Dome Church does not have a dome.

Various notables are buried here, including two unlikely foreigners. Pontus de la Gardie was a French mercenary who fought for the Swedes, while Samuel Greig was a Scot who became an admiral in the Russian Navy.

If you believe the local guides, their crowning achievement was to die in Estonia. The Frenchman was carried off by the River Narva, but the old sea dog died in his bed in Tallinn, attended by the physician of Catherine the Great of Russia.Highslide JS

TOOMPEA CASTLE
The other notable building on Cathedral Hill is Toompea Castle 5 which is used by the Parliament of Estonia for its sessions. It has been built, extended and rebuilt many times. One of the early buildings on this spot, Taani linn meaning "Danish Castle", is probably the origin of Tallinn's name.

Highslide JSSecurity considerations prevent tours of the parliament building, but it has a pleasant garden open to the public, with a fine view to the west. From Castle Square the short way back to the Lower Town is via Lühige jalg, Short Leg Street.

If time allows, there is an interesting museum at the bottom of Toompea Street, about 320 meters (1000 feet) away, down the hill. The Museum of the Occupations 6 is devoted to showing what life was like in Estonia in 1939-91, when the country was controlled first by Germany and then for a much longer period by the Soviet Union.

Highslide JSThere is little else of interest in this neighbourhood, so it's best to return the same way, back up the hill to Castle Square.

ST NICHOLAS'
If your appetite for churches has not yet been completed sated, there is one more en route to Town Hall Square. The Church of St Nicholas or Niguliste Kirik 7 dates from around 1230.

It was completely untouched by later Lutheran reformers, so it still contains major medieval works of art. The most famous is Danse Macabre, a painting by the Lübeck master Bernt Notke, showing the skeletal figure of Death seizing the high-borne and the humble alike.Highslide JS

From the church on Chevalier Street or Rüütli, it's a walk of a kilometre back to the Town Hall Square 1 and out of the Old Town via Viru Gate.

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