The youthful university city of Tartu in southern Estonia is also the birthplace of the national song festival tradition, which started in 1869. An important symbol of the town is a fountain with a statue of students kissing under an umbrella, located in Tartu’s Town Hall Square. On one side of the historical late 18th century square stands a building that has been called Estonia’s leaning tower of Pisa, built partly on the city wall, partly on wooden piles that collapsed, now the site of an art museum. The city’s most important structures are close by, the main building of the University of Tartu, founded in 1632, and the recently restored St. John’s Church, which contains over 1,000 well-preserved terracotta sculptures. A key geographical feature of the city is Toomemägi, the site of an ancient citadel. It is now an English- style park and a popular place for students who congregate near its Angel’s and Devil’s Bridge. Pedestrian paths follow the crest of the hill to the red brick ruins of the Dome Church, once the largest cathedral and brick structure in Eastern Europe, now housing Tartu’s Museum of History in the renovated part of the church. Bisecting the city is the river Emajõgi, a navigable waterway with a functioning replica of a traditional trading vessel, a Hanseatic lodi, that sailed Estonia’s inland waters long ago. Tartu’s Antonius Courtyard is a handicraft and art centre where visitors can watch craftsmen working with leather, glass, porcelain, fabric and other materials. Tartu is also a city of museums. The Toy Museum displays the different kinds of toys Estonian children have played with over two centuries. The Estonian National Museum displays historical and ethnological artefacts connected to Estonian folk culture. The University of Tartu Botanical Gardens has over 6,500 plant species from all of the world’s climatic zones of the world. The Gardens’ greenhouse is the biggest in the Baltics.
Tartu’s other sites of interest include the former KGB cells near the city centre and the Aviation Museum on the outskirts of Tartu with its displays life size helicopters, fighter aircraft and smaller planes. Tartu’s 19th century wooden houses district of Supilinn (Soup Town) is a sight unto itself.
Source Visit Estonia & “Tartu Maavalitsus & Tartu County Tourism Foundation”
Here’s a sampling of major yearly recurring events in Tartu:
Tartu Cycling Rally
One of the most important cycling events in the Eastern-Europe.
For more info visit the official website www.tartumaraton.ee/en/events/rattaralli/35/
Tartu Hansa days
During the Hanseatic Days the centre of Tartu turns into an area with medieval atmosphere where you can taste locally produced food, participate in several workshops and enjoy many concerts.