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Tallinn: Making It New

The Facts: Tallinn
There are no direct flights from the United States to Tallinn, but you can fly from any major European city on Estonian Air. Ferries cross the Gulf of Finland frequently from Helsinki; the trip takes 1 1/2 hours.

Good hotels are still scarce in Tallinn. The best two are in the Old Town—and run by the same hotel group. Park Consul Hotel Schlössle 13—15 Pühavaimu; 011-372/699-7700, fax 011-372/699-7777; www.consul-hotels.com; doubles from $245. Heavy wooden beams, stately drawing rooms, wrought-iron chandeliers, and massive stone fireplaces fill this 13th-century building. The 23 guest rooms have been painstakingly renovated, down to the doorknobs. Hotel St. Petersbourg 7 Rataskaevu; 011-372/628-6500, fax 011-372/628-6565; www.consul-hotels.com; doubles from $220. This 27-room luxury hotel in a historic building is just steps from Town Hall Square. There's also a traditional sauna.

Pegasus 1 Harju; 011-372/631-4040; www.restoranpegasus.ee; dinner for two $50. Upstairs, fresh pastas, wild Estonian rabbit, and sushi. Downstairs, hipsters hugging the bar. L'Artiste Olümpia Hotel, 33 Liivalaia; 011- 372/631-5891; dinner for two $58. The sommelier will help you select the right vintage to match the game-based dishes, which include flambéed frog's legs, ostrich filet mignon, elk steak, and pheasant. Egoist Restaurant 33 Vene; 011-372/646-4052; egoist.gourmet.ee; dinner for two from $50. A seasonal menu of three-, four-, five-, and eight-course meals, served by candlelight.

Now a collection of museums spread among several buildings, the Art Museum of Estonia was founded in 1919. Closed in 1991 for repairs, it finally reopened last July in the restored Kadriorg Palace as the Museum of Foreign Art, but by then much of the collection had been heavily damaged by water and by the constant rotation from one temporary exhibition space to another. Still, the works on view range from Flemish painting to Russian, German, and French porcelain. The Estonian art in the museum's holdings will be displayed in a new building, to be designed by Finnish architect Pekka Vappavuori. For now, it can be seen at its temporary home, the Knighthood House (1 Kiriku Plats; 011-372/644-9340), on Toompea Hill in the Old Town. Kristjan Raud House 8 K. Raua St., Nömme; 011-372/670-0023. Raud, a founder of the original Art Museum of Estonia, was himself an artist, whose drawings and charcoal sketches are infused with the Symbolist mysticism common to Scandinavian painters of the early 20th century. In this house, he produced his best-known work, his illustrations for the Estonian epic Kalevipoeg. Tallinn City Museum 17 Vene; 011-372/644-6553. The history of Tallinn, including Soviet-era artifacts—posters, World War II photographs, and more—is displayed in a merchant's house that dates from the 1300's. Museum of Estonian Architecture 2 Ahtri; 011-372/625-7000; www.arhitektuurimuuseum.ee. Nineteenth- and 20th-century architectural drawings, maps, and models, and a small collection of furniture, mostly from the 1920's and 30's. Housed in the old Rotermann Salt Storage building, near the harbor. La Galerie Passage 15 Narva Rd.; 011-372/662-3332. A frame, print, and art gallery. City Gallery 13 Harju; 011-372/644-2818. Contemporary Estonian art, mostly video and installations. —Hillary Geronemus


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