For those wishing to escape the throng of tourists in Tallinn’s beautiful medieval Old Town, or indeed the occasional “p*ssed up in Pikk” hen/stag party touring the Estonian capital, a quick trip on a tram to the classy district of Kadriorg, less than 2km east of the Old Town is the perfect place to escape to.
With its vast green spaces, its recently landscaped Japanese garden, its ponds and fountains and some rather nice modern museums, Kadriorg Park is a popular spot for strolling couples and picnickers. The biggest draw of the park however, is undoubtedly Kadriorg Palace:
The notorious and rather extravagant Russian Tsar ‘Peter the Great’ built the palace and its stunning French gardens for his beloved wife Catherine I after conquering Estonia in the early eighteenth century. He named the area in honour of Catherine, ‘Kadriorg’ meaning ‘Catherine’s Valley’ in Estonian. Today, the baroque and delightfully over-the-top palace is a public art museum housing Estonia’s largest collection of 16th – 20th century Russian and West European art.
As well as its permanent collections, the palace also presents temporary art exhibitions where the artist and/or the art on display have strong links with Estonia. In May 2014, the palace displayed works by the silhouette portrait artist Eveline von Maydell who had lived and studied art in Estonia until 1918.
Just beyond the palace, a short walk further into the park is the Estonian Presidential Palace, the official home of the country’s president. Understandably, the Presidential Palace is not open to the public, but the changing of the honour guards on the steps of the palace can be watched daily at noon.
If a stroll along the shore is more desirable than a stroll in the park, then the Baltic sea is only a stone’s throw away from Kadriorg. Arguably, it is not the prettiest stretch of coastline in Estonia but it is a good place for, amongst other things, ferry-spotting.
Trams 1 and 3 going east along Narva maantee (there’s a tram stop close to the Hotel Viru) terminate at the gates of Kadriorg Park.
Kadriorg Palace, Gardens and Museum are open daily to the public. Details of opening times, ticket prices and exhibitions can be found here (in English).
There are other places of interest within the park also, including the Kumu (Kunstimuuseum), the House of Peter the Great and the Mikkel Museum, details of which can be found at the official Visit Estonia website here.
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