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Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) with a population of 425,249. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, 80 km (50 mi) south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn’s Old Town is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is ranked as a global city and has been listed among the top 10 digital cities in the world. The city was a European Capital of Culture for 2011, along with Turku in Finland. Tallinn is the oldest capital city in Northern Europe. The city was known as Reval from the 13th century until 1917 and again during the Nazi invasion of Estonia from 1941 to 1944.
Tallinn is a city with a remarkable historic urban heritage as well as a vibrant scene of contemporary architecture. The core of the city to this day is its Old Town: a UNESCO-listed heritage site with an intricate medieval street network and a great number of houses that testify to the city’s golden age as part of the Hanseatic League. Time has added its succession of layers: from Classicist palaces to functionalist town houses to Soviet experimentation. The period of Estonia’s regained independence, i.e. the last twenty years, have seen a remarkable building boom with a number of noteworthy new public, commercial and private structures designed by Estonian architects. A unique phenomenon compared with the European context is the fact that many design commissions have gone to the youngest generation of architects, mainly by winning open competitions. This has often resulted in architecture that is bold and experimental, testing diverse possibilities of contemporary design strategies. Another phenomenon speciﬁ c to Tallinn is its great diversity and contrasting elements compressed to a tight scale – within easy walking distances, one can get a glimpse of local controversial history as embodied by buildings from different historical periods that stand closely side by side.