Freedom Square, Tallinn (Estonia)
This open area at the edge of Old Town is a place of national symbolism and civic pride, as well as a favourite gathering spot.
From the last days of the Tsars and through Estonia’s first period of independence, Freedom Square (Vabaduse väljak) was a place of parades and fanfare, but fell into neglect during the Soviet and post-Soviet period. In 2009, after extensive renovation, it was restored to its former glory.
Now it’s a sophisticated place to relax, filled with benches and cafés, and faced by two art galleries. Most of all this is one of best places to see evidence of the city’s 1930s-era building boom, with art-deco and functionalist buildings flanking two sides of the square. The large pillar with the cross that dominates the west side of the square is one of its new features. This is the Monument to the War of Independence, commemorating Estonia’s hard-fought struggle in 1918 – 1920 to free itself of foreign rule.
To get a glimpse of the square’s older history, all you have to do is look down. A glass panel in the street on the northwest corner of the square reveals the foundation and stairs of the Harju Gate tower, which stood here in medieval times.