After what had been a thoroughly enjoyable day meandering around Tallinn’s Old Town I’d left myself the next morning to see some of the rest of the city before hopping on a ferry back to Helsinki and wanted to explore Kadriorg Palace, a miniature Versailles minus the hordes of tourists.
Hopping from a tram just outside the park gate and noting neither a map or sing posts I ambled around admiring the lush landscaping and fountains for a spell but being on a tight timeline asked a passing couple walking their dog for directions who pointed me in the direction of the palace. Following a high wall and expecting to see it from a distance the palace Russian Czar Peter the great built for his wife Catherine (Kadriorg is both Estonian and German for “Catherine Valley”) surprised me by suddenly being there after rounding a corner and the view down from a small hill was enough to stop me in my tracks.
Having the intimate and immaculate French garden at what is the rear of the palace all to myself without another soul in sight was a treat and one I took full advantage of scoping the view from dozens of different angles with each as photogenic as the last.
After a successful siege of Tallinn in the Great Northern War Peter moved into a small cottage nearby while plans were made and work started in 1718 on this palace which was completed 7 years later at around the same time as the czar’s death. After falling out of the Russian royalties favor the small palace served for most of the rest of its life as a government building and residence of the Estonian president before most recently becoming the Kadriorg Art Museum.
The little cottage the czar occupied was preserved and now houses Peter the Great House Museum .
After vacating the Kadriorg Palace the Estonian President has had to make do with a residence in a nearby building that while bearing more than a passing resemblance to the palace is without quite the same regal panache.
The parking lot is as far as I ventured all the while under the watchful eyes of the guards posted to the entrance.
The striking Kumu Art Museum houses mostly modern Estonian art but some 18th century works and exhibitions from abroad are also on display at the museum which opened in 2006 to much fanfare.
Sadly as the opening hours conflicted with my ferry schedule I wasn’t able to explore the interior which by all accounts is as architecturally interesting as the exterior.
After a return tram ride to the hotel and packing I opted to walk the 10 minutes to the ferry terminal to await my sailing back to Helsinki. In scanning the active port and spires of Old Town in the background I was grateful I’d opted to stay the first two nights of my Nordic holiday in Tallinn as anything less would not have done the historical port justice.