estonia-nature

Places To Visit In Estonia And Travel Tips

Estonia is an authentic experience: what to know before visiting this country

Estonia is a country with a rich history, diverse culture and many experiences waiting for the travellers.  Throughout the history Estonia has adopted different traits from the neighbouring countries, thus forming a unique destination in the Baltic area.  This country has topped several travelling lists by the quality of experience, thus here are some local tips and advice to help you discover Estonia from a different angle.

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The Hidden Gems of Tallinn

It’s no surprise that both foreign investors and local business people looking into purchasing a residential property or an office space first plump for the prestigious and historic Vanalinn, or Old Town, for a taste of late-Medieval charm. The old town’s castle-like masonry architecture, with its partly-exposed stone walls, pale coloured stucco, deep window sills, exposed raw timber beams and heavy wooden doors replete with hammered iron hardware are all features that will take you right back to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

As the secondary choice for many, and in fact the primary choice for more than a few IT and telecoms companies, small business owners and sometimes students, the area immediately outside the old town (called the Kesklinn, or town centre) is also attractive in terms of available residential and office buildings. Such buildings vary greatly in quality, style and facilities – starting with the inter-war period masonry buildings which are almost as robust as their Old Town counterparts and which can be anything from fascinatingly detailed to utterly minimalist, through to the sombre early Soviet era concrete pseudo-classic style blocks. The range continues all the way up to the glass and metal post-independence boom-period “new” buildings which nonetheless seem to age quite quickly, with their glory fading away much faster than the older adjacent buildings.

Recently the eyes of investors as well as the “new locals” have shifted their focus to the district of Kalamaja – an area which is also situated immediately next to the Old Town, where both masonry Art Deco and traditionally detailed weatherboard-clad multifamily houses stand side by side in harmony. The area is characterised by its calm, airy feel, where residents enjoy the ever-changing colours of light shining through the mature leafy trees in summer as much as the warm, amber light from the living rooms and kitchens escaping onto the thick layer of snow in winter.

Some landowners who have clearly been misguided by the false sense of “per square meter” economy have constructed an array of concrete panel “imitation” apartments in Kalamaja, replacing the empty lots and dilapidated or even burnt down old buildings. However, some wise land owners have constructed new buildings using mostly traditional methods and the original blueprints combined with more functional thermal insulation and heating technologies, offering more comfort yet an aesthetic typical to the area and matching the surroundings. Such phenomena as unoccupied quality apartments are becoming scarcer, unless they are ridiculously overpriced, and more and more young families are relocating to Kalamaja.

This also meant that the residents of older generations are slowly being pushed out of the area due to increasing rent and maintenance costs of old buildings, meaning that the area is very young and becoming more “cultural”. A local former industrial complex now hosts a restaurant, bars, cafes, weekly flea-markets and other attractions to meet the young families’ needs for a meeting place as well as economical ways to get much-needed children’s supplies as well as kitsch vintage decor items.

There is another adjacent area, Pelgulinn, not yet deeply explored by either foreign buyers or local developers. Pelgulinn offers a much greater variety of building age, styles, sizes, finishes and prices than does Kalamaja. If Kalamaja is geographically separated from the Old Town by the railway station and the tracks, Pelgulinn is further separated from Kalamaja by more railway tracks and a marked lack of commercial activities. It lies sandwiched between the industrial railway depot and the main thoroughfare in North Tallinn, Sõle Street, with many more compact lower-income housings at the Northern end of the district close to or actually on Sõle, while more beautiful yet not overly elaborate buildings can be found at the Southern end towards Telliskivi street. There are numerous cul-de-sacs and shortcuts for pedestrians compared with Kalamaja, making an almost ideal neighbourhood structure according to urban planning textbooks on what constitutes a liveable neighbourhood. Even though most buildings share the same periodic influence as of those in Kalamaja, Pelgulinn has a markedly different atmosphere. Pelgulinn is an area where a good mix of buildings in various states await an injection of financial investments and new generation of residents to raise the quality of the streets.

Pelgulinn does not share the feel of a seaside town which Kalamaja hints at. For some strange reason the Old Town appears far more elevated when viewed from Heina Street in Pelgulinn, where it looks almost like a Medieval castle town situated in more mountainous country such as that surrounding Salzburg or Prague. This makes you wonder whether a great river divides the Old Town and your standing point – in no such river runs through Tallinn. Pelgulinn is an area which offers a very different feel from other parts of Tallinn. The district features former workers’ wooden terraces, railway tracks, idiosyncratic house number discs and street names in both Estonian and Russian, and garages and disused factories the area lacks of cold industrial feel. The streets are slightly narrower than those of Kalamaja and the lack of pastel-colour houses found in the latter gives a more authentic look of a residential suburb which the Western European countries lost back in the seventies. There is something of a nostalgic feel to the area yet it is not left undeveloped either. Brand new apartments cleverly blend into the surroundings, and although some old buildings look well-worn from outside their interiors can be very contemporary.

Pelgulinn is best explored on foot, even without a map. There are so many things to be discovered every day throughout the year. It may even offer the perfect excuse to walk or ride a bike in order to go shopping for groceries at Jaama Turg – the Railway Station Market – rather than driving to a hypermarket.

text by: Satoshi Joshua Ogawa
The author is a Tallinn-based architect recently moved from Brussels and specialising in residential building designs.

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Tallinn’s Two Transport Agencies To Be Merged

The two major public transport companies in Tallinn, Estonia, are to be merged, according to a report by Ott Tammik on the Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) English language site.

The Tallinn Bus Company (TAK) and the Tallinn Tram and Trolley company will be merged into one, making a saving of some 10 million Euros per year, according to the report.

This rationalisation will see a streamlining both in the transport routes themselves (with 47 of the 103 trolleybuses to be replaced by, presumably more reliable, buses) and also in administration, avoiding duplication in management, accounting, personnel and IT, according to the report. However, the number of trams will actually increase, with a fourth route being added (the trams system currently stretches East to West from Lasnamäe to Kopli, and from Kadriorg to Kopli, with an additional stretch southwards to Tondi).

The decision was announced by Deputy Mayor Arvo Sarapuu and comes just a few months after the referendum which decided the provision of free public transport to all registered Tallinn residents, starting in 2013.

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Demand For Office Space Outstripping Supply In Tallinn, Estonia

Demand for good quality (A class plus) in Tallinn is currently outstripping supply, according to a report on the Estonian Press Digest from News2Biz.

Whilst the period from late 2010 well into 2011 saw an upsurge in construction, including office space, rising construction costs have since dampened down this phenomenon, the report stated.

Quoting sources at Uusmaa real estate firm, the report went on to explain that whilst many of the developments during the more frenetic period of construction were of good quality and in prime locations in the centre of Tallinn, since then the lack of modern, high class office space has become ‘acute’.

 

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“Why You Should Be Investing In Tallinn Real Estate – Your Essential Guide to the Tallinn Property Market”: Available Soon!

We haven’t forgotten about our promise to launch the new Guide “”Why You Should Be Investing In Tallinn Real Estate – Your Essential Guide to the Tallinn Property Market”: Available Soon!”.

Our team are putting the finishing touches to the publication and it will be out very soon so watch this space!.

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier residential and commercial property service based in Tallinn, Estonia, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

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Tallinn Summer Beer Festival Kicks Off Tonight

Today sees the first day of the annual Tallinn Õllesummer (‘beer summer’) festival, at the Lauluväljak (Song Festival Ground) in Tallinn.

This is the 18th year the festival has been held, and it has now grown to include not only beers from Estonia and around the world, but several major music acts, including Welsh band The Manic Street Preachers (Friday), and Estonia’s Eurovision entry for 2012 Ott Lepland (Thursday).

In all the festival lasts for four days.

More information is available here.

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier residential and commercial property service based in Tallinn, Estonia, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

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Tallinn Mayor States Orthodox Church Construction On Schedule

Controversial Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar has announced that a Russian Orthodox Church in the Tallinn district of Lasnamäe will be completed in 2013 as per schedule, according to a report by Ingrid Teesalu on the English site of Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR).

Mr. Savisaar, 62, leader of the centre-left Keskerakond  (Centre) Party and Mayor of Tallinn since 2007 (he had previously held the post between 2001-2004) recently returned from a trip to Moscow, where he met with heads of the Andrei Pervozvannoi Fund, supporters of the Church’s construction, according to the report.

Mr. Savisaar stated that details surrounding the Church’s construction, including its bell tower (whilst being a new building, the Church is being constructed along traditional Orthodox architectural principles) had been discussed and that everything was on track. He declined to state the sum received from the Andrei Pervozvannoi Fund, but also claimed that private donations from within Estonia had been snowballing and that the Church would be a place that worshippers could be pleased with, the report stated.

Lasnamäe is a residential district, the most populous in Tallinn, to the east of the centre. It is the largest of the three later Soviet-era dormitory districts and was constructed through the course of the 1970s and ’80s. It has a majority Russian-speaking population; the new Church will join the existing Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Toompea, which was completed in 1900.

Estonian daily newspaper Postimees had previously (in 2010) discovered that funds of around 1.5 million Euros had been received by Mr. Savisaar from Russian sources, earmarked for the Church’s construction.

The Russian Orthodox Church in Estonia falls under the Moscow Patriarchy and has around 150 000 adherents in Estonia as a whole; a far smaller Estonian Orthodox Church also exists.

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Apartment Prices Showing Slight Y-o-Y Rise in Tallinn, Estonia

Most of the major newspapers in Tallinn are taking a break today after Jaanipäev but here at Tallinn Property we don’t want to take a break from bringing you up to speed on all that is happening in real estate in Tallinn and Estonia in general!

According to a report on Tõnu Toompark’s adaur blog, signs of very slight price increases in property prices in Tallinn and Estonia as a whole can be gleaned from the latest kv.ee index. The kv.ee index currently stands at 61 points which is all of a 0.5 per cent y-o-y increase. Offer prices statistics for both Tallinn and some of the provincial towns show more concrete evidence of modest increases.

Meanwhile the volume of apartment offers remains at about the same level it was a year ago, though in Tallinn the level is about one per cent lower with 8 700 apartments currently under offer, writes Tõnu.  Average offer prices for the whole of Tallinn (apartments) currently stands at 1 317 Euros/square metre.

That said, agents have shown some optimisim in reporting a slight rise in offer prices on Tallinn flats, Tõnu continues. At the same time it needs to be pointed out that offer price rises remain below the growth in actual deal prices. Whereas the offer price on Tallinn apartments has seen a five per cent rise y-o-y, actual deal prices have seen a seven per cent rise over the same period, Tõnu says.

According to the data, within Tallinn, the district to have seen the highest rise in offer prices is Kristiine with an eight per cent increase from 9 May, 2011 to 9 May, 2012 (average price of 1 316 Euros/square metre). The Old Town actually saw a decrease of one per cent in offer prices over the same period (average price of 2 792 Euros/square metre). The greatest increase in volume of offers over the same period was in North Tallinn with an increase of 13 per cent (to 1 418 offers) though many areas saw a fall y-o-y, as high as -18 per cent in Pirita (278 offers). Outside of Tallinn, Tartu has also seen a fall in the volume of offers (-22 per cent) whilst simultaneously experiencing an increase in offer prices of eight per cent (average of 1 051 Euros/square metre).

Estonia as a whole has seen only small increases in both number of apartment offers at two per cent (18 511 currently) and an increase in average offer prices of three per cent (1 004 Euros/square metre).

The full article and statistics (in Estonian) can be viewed here.

The kv.ee index, which commenced on 18 February, 2008 (i.e. this is the date on which the value of the index is calibrated at 100) measures the week on week change in residential real estate prices in Estonia. The data has been measured back anachronistically to 1 January, 2005, when the index stood at an “all time” low of 49.9. The “all time” high came on 7 May, 2007, when it stood at 108.

Goodson & Red Tallinn Property Consultancy is a premier residential and commercial property service based in Tallinn, Estonia, with a strong focus on consultancy services for overseas property investors. Our recent media accolades include mentions in both the UK quality newspaper the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

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Happy Jaanipäev From All At Tallinn Property!

We at Tallinn Property and Goodson & Red would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone both in and outside of Estonia a Happy Jaanipäev!

For anyone not familiar with this tradition, Jaanipäev, literally ‘John’s Day’ is the midsummer celebration here, usually marked by overnight partying around a bonfire, and even leaping over it! The weather here this year has not been conducive to the festivities, with rain, rain and more rain, and due to the way the calendar has fallen there is no day off work, but that hasn’t stopped people having a good time!

Head Jaanipäeva!

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