Tartu is a university city located on the Emajogi River. It is Estonia’s second largest city and the oldest city in the Baltic States dating back to 1030. Tartu is known as the cradle of the Estonian Song Festival, Estonian Theater and the Estonian State. There are many wonderful things to see and to do in this interesting city.
A must when visiting Tartu is a look at Tartu University. This is one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe founded in 1632. The university has a large student population.
Tartu also has something unexpected and that is the “Tartu Ghost”. No one really know where the ghost resides but you can feel its presence most everywhere like in the city district Supilinn or “Soup Town”, on Toome Hill, in the lovely, little cafes and at the University. Perhaps it is because of this ghost that residents of Tartu say that time here goes just a little slower. Apparently there is not only one ghostly resident in Tartu and that is what makes it interesting. An example is that the Old Town has a street called Ghost Street which residents believe is haunted. So when visiting the city you can also do some ghost hunting as there are other spooky places in the Old Town as well.
To get a closer look at how some of the residents of Tartu live take a visit to Supilinn or “Soup Town”. This is an area of interesting architecture, affordable housing and vegetable gardens. The streets are named after vegetables like Potato, Pea and Bean Streets and the residents are really down to earth.
Tourists love to take a look at St. John’s Church which is a great example of European Gothic Architecture.
Close by the church is St. Anthony’s Court, a marketplace where you can see and purchase goods created by Estonian craftsmen. There is a wide range of goods from pottery to leather to cloth artwork.
Don’t forget to see the famous Tartu kissing statue. This is a fountain on Raekoja Square which shows two students kissing beneath an umbrella. The statue’s author was inspired by seeing his nephew kissing a girl in the rain.
The Old Town of Tartu is its heart and soul. Here you can walk along narrow, pedestrian streets which criss-cross each other. There is lots of interesting architecture to see. You will find lots of wonderful restaurants and pubs to choose from. When in the Old Town don’t forget to visit the “Leaning House” located at the northeast corner of Town Hall Square. The house was saved from falling over by Polish engineers. You can see the inside of the house by visiting the Tartu Art Museum. Another thing not to miss is Tartu’s Town Hall which stand tall over Town Hall Square. It is a most majestic, pink building built in 1789. The architecture is a mixture of early classicism with some baroque and rococo.
The City Museum is located in a lovely 18th century mansion standing across the river from the Old Town. Visitors can get to know all about Tartu’s history here. There is a computer-generated video showing what medieval Tartu would have looked like.
Visit the Estonian National Museum where you can get to know Estonian culture. There is a permanent exhibition about traditional Estonian folk culture displaying folk costumes and life-like displays of peasant life. To get a taste of Estonia food, visit the café downstairs. At the gift shop you can purchase authentic handicrafts and unique souvenirs.
Enjoy the quietness of Toome Hill which rises above Old Town. At one time Tartu’s original settlement, Tarbatu was established here in 600 AD. Today the hill is home to some of the city’s most interesting historic sights. It’s great place for quiet strolls looking out over Tartu.
You can have a great time taking a one hour cruise up the Emajogi River aboard the Pegasus. This is a wonderful way to get a different look at Tartu and while you’re relaxing on the river decide what other great sights you want to see.