Join us on a virtual tour of beautiful Tallinn. We will show you our favourite landmarks and the orders of knighthood that we associate them with.

Each day we will be visiting a different landmark. So make sure to visit us often!

We invite you to share your photographs of sites and insignia that go with them in the comments bellow.

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ST OLAv’S CHURCH – The Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav

St Olav’s Church is one of the oldest churches in the city. Built in the twelfth century, is dedicated to King Olav II of Norway and has been the focal point for the Scandinavian community of the city ever since. Many of the people that attend here can trace their heritage back to when Denmark conquered Tallinn in 1219. From 1549 until 1625, the church was the tallest structure in the world, standing and enormous 159 meters high! Unfortunately, being the tallest building had its downside and it was often hit by lightning, which resulted in it being burnt down. However, even today it is the highest building in Old Town Tallinn, no other buildings can be built higher than this church.

Olav was born to a powerful Norwegian noble family descended from kings. In 1007, when he was only 12, he led a raiding army against Estonians, attacking the island of Saaremaa (Ösel) and later succeeded in uniting Norway under his rule. Saint Olav became an important symbol of Norwegian national identity, and in 1847 King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway founded the Order of Saint Olav. 

After Norway became an independent kingdom in 1905, this order was the highest award conferred by the monarch (although the Order of the Norwegian Lion was officially its senior, no appointments were made in independent Norway, and it was eventually dissolved). The Order of Saint Olav exists to this day as a five-class order of chivalry, bestowed for remarkable accomplishments on behalf of the country and humanity.

Pic: Commander Star, Civil Division, 1st type (1847-1905); gold, silver (United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway)

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Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – the Russian Imperial Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Tallinn’s largest Orthodox Church, built between 1894 and 1900 when Estonia was part of the Russian Empire. It is dedicated to Alexander Nevsky, the name he got for the battle he won in 1240, at the Neva River, near modern-day St. Petersburg, against allegedly Swedish invaders. In 1242 he achieved another legendary victory over the Teutonic Knights at Lake Peipus. For his deeds, Alexander Nevsky was canonised as a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Peter the Great, after having established his new capital on the Neva, resolved to found an order in the name and under the patronage of this great warrior. He started work on the statutes of the Order in 1724, in preparation for a military campaign to Persia.

The Order, modelled after the French Military Order of St. Louis, was supposed to be awarded strictly for bravery in battle, but Peter died before finalising his work. The first investiture was made by his wife Catherine I, on 21 May 1725, on the occasion of the wedding of Peter’s daughter Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna to Karl Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. By awarding the Order to about a dozen wedding guests Catherine made the Order open to both military and civilian recipients.

Pic: Diamond badge of the Order of Alexander Nevsky

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the Garden of the Danish King – the Order of the Dannebrog

The sculpture ‘Tuli lipp’ – The Flag Desended – by Mari Rass and Liina Stratskas has been a welcome addition to the Danish King’s Garden since 2012. “Tuli lipp” symbolizes the legend of the red flag with a white cross that fell from the sky on 15 June 1219 in Tallinn and encouraged the Danish troops to win over the Estonians in the battle under Lyndanise, as the site was called then. It became the Danish national flag – believed to be the oldest state flag in the world still in use and has been the basis for the national flags of other Nordic countries.  It was also the inspiration for Denmarks second highest order – the Order of the Dannebrog.

The Order of the Dannebrog (Danish: Dannebrogordenen), or the Order of the Flag of the Danes, was established by King Christian V in 1671, on the occasion of the birth of his first son Frederick. According to the Statutes of the Order from 1693, the Order had one class and was limited to fifty Knights of royal or noble birth. They were known as the White Knights to distinguish them from the Blue Knights who were members of the higher-ranking Order of the Elephant. Prior membership of the Order of the Dannebrog was required to become a member of the Order of the Elephant. In 1808, King Frederick VI reformed and extended the Order. It became an Order of Merit, open to all worthy subjects irrespective of their social status.

The badge of the Order is a white-enamelled Scandinavian cross  with a red-enamelled border. At the top of this cross is the letter R (Rex or Regina) combined with the initial of the reigning monarch crowned with the Danish royal crown. In the centre of the badge is the letter C with the figure 5 inside for Christian V, on the arms of the cross – the motto of the Order: Gud og Kongen (God and the King). On the white-enamelled reverse are the crowned royal cyphers of Valdemar II and Frederik VI, as well as the years 1219, 1671 and 1808. 

Pic: Commander Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog

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the Garden of the Danish King – the Order of Malta

The sculptures of the monks in the Danish King’s Garden were inspired by stories and legends, and have set up residence here in 2015. 

Since the end of the 18th century, this area was one of the most haunted places in the city. The most popular ghost was a monk, sometimes even several monks at a time. Usually, the monk appears as a giant figure of light and at other times as a provider of cautioning or inspirational messages. The last time that the ghost monk appeared was in the 1980s during Old Town days.

the Order of Malta which dates back to the second half of the 11th century when a Christian mission led by Benedictine monks appeared not far from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The monks took on the responsibility of maintaining a hospital, providing care to pilgrims on their journey to the Holy Land.

In the beginning, during the Crusades, the Knights Hospitaller used a plain Latin cross. The eight-pointed crosses first started to appear on coins minted by Grand Masters of the order under Foulques de Villaret (GM 1305–19). Only in 1489 did the statutes of the Order began to include the requirement that all knights of Malta should wear ‘the white cross with eight points’. The fully modern design is found on a copper coin dated 1567, minted by Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette (GM 1557–68).

The eight points of the eight-pointed cross have been given a number of symbolic interpretations, such as representing the eight Langues of the Knights Hospitaller (Auvergne, Provence, France, Aragon, Castille and Portugal, Italy, Germany, and the British Isles) or alternatively the ‘eight obligations or aspirations’ of the knights.

Pic: Badge of the Order of Malta in Barock style, gold, c 1700-20

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Estonian Knighthood House and the Royal Cavalry Armory of Seville

The present Estonian Knighthood House was built in the middle of the 19th century and originally occupied by the German nobles of Estonia who formed the Estonian Knighthood. It is already the 4th Knighthood House in Tallinn, as two previous ones burned down and one became too small for the needs of the knights. Today it is in the process of renovation and in the future will become an event venue.

As a place where knights gather it would surely be open for the Royal Cavalry Armory of Seville or the Noble Chapter of Knights of Mercy if they chose to hold their meetings in Tallinn.

The Royal Illustrious and Discreet Noble Chapter of Knights of Mercy (Real Ilustre y Primitivo Capítulo Noble de Caballeros de la Merced) is a public corporation formally established on 26 June 1974 in Madrid. In essence it was the recreation of the Catholic Brotherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Merciful, founded on 3 September 1724 in the Madrid Monastery, as part of the religious institutions of the monastic Order of the Mercedarians. In 1827, Ferdinand VII of Spain declared himself the Hermano Major (Big Brother) and protector of the Order of Mercy , therefore, Royal appeares in its name. 

Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla (from maestro – teacher) is an association under the patronage of the King, comprising representatives of the local ancient Catholic hereditary nobility, whose lineage goes back 13 centuries to the Reconquista, when monarchs relied on the support of their vassals for the defence of territories, granting them privileges and titles in return. The knights of the Maestranza dealt with the military, religious and cultural issues in the entire region.

As a special distinction, the nobles of the Seville Maestranza were granted the privilege of wearing their uniforms without restrictions, which equated them to the honour of army officers. In 1823, Ferdinand VII decided to further honour the noble knights of Seville by accepting the title of their Hermano Major himself. The current King, Philip VI, also heads the Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla.

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the Embassy of finland – the Orders of Finland

The flag over the Embassy of Finland can be seen flying high over Tallinn among the spires of the city’s towers. 

The Finnish Embassy is situated in Toompea, in a beautiful mansion from the middle of the 19th century, designed by Georg Winterhalter for Bernhard Otto Jakob von Uexküll. After the declaration of Estonian independence, it was sold to the later president Konstantin Päts, who partially rented out the estate to embassies and lived himself in one of the wings of the building. The Finnish Embassy has been occupying the premises since 1923. In 1926, Päts sold the property to the state of Finland, in turn renting his living premises.

The Order of the Cross of Liberty, founded in 1918. Badge of the Cross of Liberty, 1st Class with swords.

The Order of the White Rose of Finland, founded in 1919. Commander 1st Class

The Order of the Lion of Finland, founded in 1942. Commander, 1st Class, Civil Division

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War of Independence Victory Column – Cross of liberty

The Estonian Cross of Liberty was instituted in the spring of 1919. It had three distinct grades: I – awarded for military services; II – awarded for personal bravery in the War of Independence; III – awarded for civil services rendered during the founding of the Republic of Estonia. Each division had three classes. The shape of the Cross was based on the Grand Master insignia of the Teutonic Order, which ruled Estonia in the Middle Ages.

The very first crosses were conferred on officers of the British Navy who aided Estonia in the War of Independence.

The highest decoration for personal courage – 1st Class of the II Grade of the Cross of Liberty – was never conferred. However in 2009, when the War of Independence Victory Column was built in Tallinn’s Freedom Square, this decoration was incorporated into the monument’s design and thus symbolically awarded to everyone who fought for Estonia’s independence.

Pic.: Order of the Cross of Liberty: badge of the Order, Grade II, 3rd Class

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the Stenbock House – Order of the National Coat of Arms and the Order of the Cross of the Eagle

The Stenbock House on Toompea Hill houses the Government of Estonia.  It was designed by architect Johann Caspahr Mohr for the courts of the province of Estonia but, when finished in 1792, it became the town residence of Count Jakob Pontus Stenbock. After his death, the house was used for various purposes until it first became a courthouse. It was the seat of courts until 1987. The first Government session in Stenbock House was held on 8 August 2000. The house prominently displays on its facade the coat of arms of Estonia which includes a picture of three blue lions showing their red tongues. The lions are similar to those on the coat of arms of Denmark, which ruled northern Estonia in the thirteenth century. 

When the Constitution of Estonia was adopted in 1920, it aimed to remove state decorations from public life. Article 7 stipulates: ‘The Republic of Estonia does not bestow orders or medals on its own citizens except servicemen in times of war. Neither have Estonian citizens the right to accept medals or orders of foreign countries.’ The Constitution emphasised the equality of all citizens before the law and complete absence of estates in the Republic of Estonia. Orders were thought to violate these principles. However, the State was left without any honour system for acknowledging the services of its citizens which also led to a somewhat embarrassing situation in international diplomacy where exchanging state decorations was a typical gesture of respect.

1st Class of the Order of the Cross of the Eagle

So the State used semi-official ways to award its citizens and foreign dignitaries with decorations. Such an award was the Order of the Cross of the Eagle, instituted in 1928. It was created as a token of recognition by the Estonian Defence League (EDL – Estonia’s voluntary paramilitary defence organisation), but effectively became a five-class military order of the State. Its badge is a Maltese cross with the emblem of the Defence League in the centre. At the beginning of the 1920s, this emblem was considered as a possible design for the Estonian coat of arms. It depicts the Northern Eagle, which, according to the national epic ‘Kalevipoeg,’ carried Kalev, the forefather of Estonian people, to native shores in mythic times.

  The Order of the National Coat of Arms  was instituted as the highest token of recognition by the Republic of Estonia and to commemorate the day of the declaration of independence – 24 February 1918. It was intended to be the highest honour for all services rendered, and could be awarded only if the recipient had already received another state decoration. The Order of the National Coat of Arms was designed by Paul Luhtein, who decorated it with the coat of arms of Estonia, which had previously also been the coat of arms of the Estonian Knighthood and the province of Estonia in the Russian Empire.

Pic.: 1st Class of the Order of the National Coat of Arms from the exhibition of the Estonian State Decorations at the National Library of Estonia in Tallinn

The Order of the National Coat of Arms consisted of five main classes, five medal classes and two special classes: the collar and the special sash. Only one unique collar was made, and it became the badge of office of the President of Estonia. The Order of the National Coat of Arms is, therefore, the most prestigious Estonian order, with the head of state alone being eligible for membership in its highest class.

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“Metskits”Order of st hubert (bavaria)

 Before the capital of Estonia was called Tallinn, it was known as Reval. Interestingly both names are attributed to the Danes, and one Dane in particular – King Valdemar II. There is a legend which claims, that after conquering Northern Estonia and converting the population to Christianity, Valdemar was hunting on the spot of the future city of Tallinn when he came upon a deer. The creature was so beautiful, that rather than hunt it, he decided to have it captured and kept as a pet. But the cornered deer with no place to go jumped off the highest point of Toompea Hill thus evading capture. And it is said that Reval – Reh-fall (dear fall) was named after this magnificent creature. At the foot of the hill where the incident happened, you can now find a little park, with a statue of the deer. In 1929, the sculptor Jaan Koort poured three sculptures of a deer. One statue is located in Moscow, the other in the Estonian Art Museum, and the sculpture, which has stood for more than 60 years, is kept hidden in the Tallinn City Museum. There is a copy on Nunne Street because the original was repeatedly vandalized. 

The Bavarian Order of Saint Hubert is dedicated to the patron saint of hunters, mathematicians, knights, opticians, and metalworkers. The Order’s namesake, Saint-Hubert, was born to the ducal family of Aquitaine about the year 656. After the death of his wife, he withdrew into the forests of the Ardennes and gave himself up entirely to hunting. According to legend, once, while pursuing a stag, Hubert suddenly witnessed a crucifix appear between its antlers and he received a vision telling him to turn to the Lord and also hold animals in higher regard as they are all God’s creatures. Hubert renounced his worldly possessions, titles, and wealth and, following the messages of his visions, went to Maastricht, where a certain Lambert was bishop. Bishop Lambert instructed Hubert in matters of faith, and he himself eventually became the Bishop of Liége (not far from the later site of the Battle of Linnich) in 708. Hubert distributed his episcopal revenues among the poor, was diligent in fasting and prayer and became famous for his eloquence in the pulpit. He died peacefully in 727 and was canonized in 743.

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Town Hall Pharmacy – Order of the red cross (estonia)

The Town Hall Pharmacy, located opposite the Town Hall, is one of the oldest continuously running pharmacies in Europe,with first mentions of it going back to 1422. For the longest time – over 325 years (1582-1911), it was run by  the family Buchard. It is Tallinn’s oldest commercial enterprise and the oldest medical establishment of the city.  On the first floor there is a small museum displaying old medical instruments, historical chemist tools and other curiosities. 

The Order of the Estonian Red Cross, initially a memorial badge, was granted from 1920 to both Estonian and foreign citizens for contributions to the organisation and the Republic. In 1926, new statutes were adopted for the badge which in effect turned it into a five-class civil order of the State. 

You can download more information about the Estonian orders from the site of the National Library of Estonia.

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Tallinn Flower ball – Orders of the chrysanthemum and the rising sun (japan)

There are many festivals in Tallinn during the Summer, and the Flower Ball – Tallinna Lilleball – is one of the favourites of locals and visitors alike! Organised by Tatjana Tridvornova, it is usually held at the beginning of Summer and showcases the most beautiful flowers and talents from all over Estonia and the world with the majestic chrysanthemum in all of its colourful variety taking central stage. 

Flowers play a significant role in Japnese culture. In Japan the crown is not used as the symbol of the Empire, in its stead, the Imperial crest has been employed. It is customary for each prominent Japanese family to have its own characteristic crest or ‘mon’ which is commonly displayed on the kimono. Since the 13th century, the crest of the emperors has been the chrysanthemum. The flower, which is associated with integrity and endurance, was first introduced to Japan in the seventh century. It quickly became popular for its beauty and medicinal properties.  Japanese monarchy, the Emperor and the Imperial Family are often referred to as the Chrysanthemum Throne.  The Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum (Japanese: 大勲位菊花章 Daikun’i Kikka-sho) was established in 1876 by Emperor Meiji as Japan’s highest order. It is restricted to members of the Imperial Family, high nobility, national heroes and foreign sovereigns. 

The Order of the Rising Sun (Japanese: 旭日章 Kyokujitsu-sho) is the oldest Japanese national award. It was established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji. Today it is the third highest order bestowed by the Japanese government and the highest ordinarily conferred award. The Order is conferred for distinguished achievements in the fields of international relations, for the promotion of Japanese culture, achievements in the scientific fields, social welfare or environment preservation. The Grand Cordon of the Order is also awarded to all Japanese Nobel Laureates. The badge  of the Order is suspended from a crest of three rows of purple paulownia flowers with three green paulownia leaves. 

Paulownia flowers (Japanese:  桐 kiri) bloom in early spring on the Paulownia tree. Originally the tree was called Pavlovnia, as it was named in honour of Anna Pavlovna, daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia, Queen consort of The Netherlands (1795–1865). For the same reason, it is also known as the ‘princess tree.’ In Japan it was once customary to plant a Paulownia tree when a baby girl was born. When the girl married, the tree would be cut down and made into a dresser as a wedding gift. Paulownia is the mon (crest) of the office of the prime minister, the cabinet, and the government.

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Old Town Christmas Market –  Order of Henry the Lion (Duchy of Brunswick)

Tallinn’s Old Town Christmas Market is most certainly among the best in Europe, and as customary for all such events, there is a wonderful Merry-go-round for children and all young at heart. 

It is believed that the first Christmas tree at Tallinn’s Town Hall Square was erected in 1441 by the Brotherhood of Blackheads – a guild for unmarried merchants, who first placed the tree for the holiday period in their brotherhood house. On the last night of celebrations, the tree was moved to the square and after a period of merriment, which included dancing  and singing around the tree with ‘a flock of maidens and women’, they then proceeded to burn it down. As such it was the first Christmas Tree ever put on display in Europe. 

The Tallinn Christamas Market is open from the 15th of December to the 7th of January.

For more beautiful photos of Tallinn visit the site of Kaupo Kalda

The Order of Henry the Lion is a Brunswick order that was founded on 25 April 1834 by Duke Wilhelm of Brunswick as a civil and military order.

The badge of the Order is a golden eight-pointed, light blue enamelled Maltese cross with a red medallion in the centre, on which is placed the crowned column with a jumping Saxon horse, on the arms of the cross are peacock feathers from the helmet depicted on the Brunswick family coat of arms. A lion stands beneath the crown and the arms of the cross have between them the crowned letter W for the founder of the order. The motto IMMOTA FIDES (Unwavering Faithfulness) and the founding year MDCCCXXXIV are written on the revers. 

Pic: A prototype of the Order’s insignia

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Tallinn Town hall – The Imperial Order of the Double Dragon  (China)

‘Here be Dragons’ – right in the centre of Tallinn on top of the Tallinn Town Hall – the oldest city hall in North-Europe and the only one in Gothic style. It dates back to the 13th century while its current form dates to 1404 and the two beautiful gargoyle dragons are working hard to guard the medieval roof against excess water during those Baltic rainy days.

The Imperial Order of the Double Dragon (Chinese: 雙龍寶星; Shuanglong Baoxing) was the first western-style order of the late Qing dynasty. It was founded by the Guangxu Emperor on 7 February 1882, at the suggestion of the Office of Foreign Affairs, as an award for outstanding services to the throne and the Empire.

The Qing government stated that decorations of the Order were made and given only to foreigners so as to encourage them to serve the Empire better. From its foundation, the Order had no membership restriction for foreign women. Native Chinese, however, were granted the right to the Order only in 1908, and very few have ever received the award. 

Derived from traditional Chinese medals (Gongpai), the first version of the Order’s insignia hung from an embroidered ribbon. They were square and heavy – quite inconvenient for foreigners to wear. In 1897, the Qing government issued a new design of the award. Following the style of western orders, the new badges were star-shaped and the ribbons no longer embroidered with dragon patterns.

All the badges over the Order’s history have had a similar design: two dragons surrounding a central precious stone and flames – symbols of imperial authority.

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Dragon Gallery – the Order of the Illustrious Dragon of Manchukuo

More dragons in Tallinn!

The art-nouveau building on Pikk 18, made by Jacques Rosenbaum, one of the most outstanding Tallinn architects of the early 20th century, has the most adorable dragons guarding the entrance. The Dragon Gallery now houses exhibition facilities run by the Estonian Artists’ Association.

The Order of the Illustrious Dragon (Chinese: Lung Kuang Ta Shou Chang), also known as The Order of the Dragon Ray, was established in March 1934 in the Grand Cordon Class only. It was the equivalent of the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun with the Paulownia Flowers and replaced the Order of the Auspicious Clouds when conferred.

The dragon is the highest-ranking animal in the Chinese animal hierarchy and the greatest of the four spirits of the gods, a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people who are worthy. It had been the emblem of the Chinese emperors since 2200 B.C. In the Qin dynasty, the five-clawed foot dragon represented the Emperor while the four- and three-clawed ones were assigned to the commoners. The dragon for the badge design of the Order was adopted from the emblem on the back of the robes worn by the Emperor at his coronation, just like the one on the central medallion of the Orchid Blossom Collar. The Badge depicts a five-clawed dragon surrounded on all sides by clouds, a ring of 28 red jewels and eight points of golden rays. The dragon is encircling a blazing golden sun. The reverse has four seal characters which read Order of Merit Badge. The sash is light blue with white stripes, representing the sky and white sun. The 28 jewels represent the 28 positions of the moon during its monthly cycle, and the clouds – good fortune.

Find out more about the Orders of Manchukuo in our article ‘Grand, Illustrious and Auspicious – Orders of Manchukuo’

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Viru gates – the Order of the Zähringen Lion

Our tour takes us next through the Viru Gates. The towers of Viru Gates were built in the 14th century when they were the foregates of a complex gate system. It included a large, square tower that stood further back along the street. Most of the gate was pulled down in the 1880s to make room for a horse-drawn tram line, but two towers remained and have since become a symbol of the town.

Pic: The way the Gate used to look and the way it looks now

The tower looks very much like the ruins of the Zähringen castle depicted on the golden medallion of the Order of the Zähringen Lion – an order of chivalry of the Grand Duchy of Baden. It was founded on 26 December 1812 by Charles I, Grand Duke of Baden, in memory of the Dukes of Zähringen from whom he was descended. The badge of the Order is a green-enamelled cross with golden clasps between the arms. In the middle of the cross is a golden medallion that depicts the ruins of the Zähringen castle – the original residence of the dynasty. A surrounding circle bears the Order’s motto: ‘Für Ehre und Wahrheit’ (German: ‘For Honour and Truth’). On the reverse, is the image of the Zähringen lion on a red background. As a special honour, the Order was granted with oak leaves, and from 1866 could also be awarded with crossed swords for military services.

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Kissing hill – the imperial Order of the rose

Tallinn is a very romantic destination. If you are visiting with someone special, make sure to take them to the Hill of Kisses located just before the main entrance to the Viru Gates. The park was developed in 1897 by Georg Kuphald, a landscape designer from Riga. Several sculptures by Tauno Kangro, were added in 2007. Couples sometimes attach love-locks to the benches as a sign of their love.

Tauro Kangro is also the author of the famous lucky Chimneysweep statue which greets visitors at another entrance into the Old City opposite the Drama Theatre (our next stop)

One of the most famous orders dedicated to love is the Imperial Order of the Rose, established by Emperor Pedro I of Brazil on 17 October 1829 to commemorate his marriage to Amélie of Leuchtenberg. Its motto – Love and Fidelity. The names Pedro and Amelia are written on the reverse.

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tallinn drama theatre – pour le merite

The beautiful Art Nouveau building that today houses the Estonian Drama Theatre was erected in 1910 by architects Nikolai Vassilyev and Aleksei Bubyr from St Petersburg and was initially the German theatre. It was later rented by the Draamastuudio Teater which was founded by the first graduating class of Estonia’s first theatre school in 1924,  and in 1937 the theatre got its present name. The theatre specializes in classical plays and contemporary drama.


The Pour le Mérite (French: For Merit) was an order of merit established on 6 June 1740 by King Frederick II of Prussia. Until 1810, the order was both a civilian and military honour. In January of that year, King Frederick William III decreed that the award could be presented only to serving military personnel, but a separate civil branch was later re-instituted as the Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts (German: Orden Pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste). It had three distinct sections: humanities, natural science and medicine as well as fine arts. While the military division of the Pour le Mérite became extinct as a result of the abdication of Kaiser William II as King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany in November 1918, the order for achievements in the arts and sciences was not abolished. Instead, the members re-established their order as an autonomous organization, with revised rules and processes for nomination, which continues to the present day. 

Among the recepients of the civil award were Johannes Brahms (1887), Giuseppe Verdi (1887), Albert Einstein (1923), Estonians Karl Ernst von Baer (1849) and Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve (1851). Recently the order was awarded to Latvian violinist Gidon Kramer (2016).