A Run through Tallinn History

Culture Kilometre

Eight days into our journey and I had yet to get in an honest-to-goodness run. The ship’s treadmill doesn’t count. In port in Estonia, I was out the gangway early, determined to find a running route somewhere near the dock.

And there it was. As I walked through the security checkpoint, I could see a pedestrian path across the road.

The first kilometer had a bit of an industrial edge, lightly used and a bit weedy, but I felt perfectly safe as a solo runner.IMG_0289 I passed a couple of men walking to work, a mother and young son out for an early bike ride, and several of my shipmates getting in their morning run as well. Further along, a residential area with older homes bordered the path. The buildings displayed architectural elements on old, mostly wooden houses, IMG_0285what you would

expect to see in a fishing port but particular to Estonia.


Where the path ended, I emerged onto a street of new housing that replicated the features of the historic architecture. 


Midway along this route and to the left of the path sits a beautiful gate to a park entrance.


I thought perhaps I could add a mile or so through the park, but found the gate locked at this early hour. There was a serenity to that park and I paused at the gate, taking in the beautiful landscape and what may have been a church in the distance.

Tallinn Harbor

Moving on and adding a  couple of streets to my out-and-back, I threw in a brief run down this colorful  pier. With that, I was able to extend the run distance to just over five miles.

After returning home from our voyage, I did some research to ensure I had the correct location before adding this trail to the localeikki site. And, I was still curious about that iron-gated park just off the trail.

I learned the path is named the Culture Kilometre and the Kalamaja area is known for its wooden architecture and its thriving bohemian art community.

And the park with the iron gate? According to Wikipedia, on the other side of the gate is the former site of the oldest cemetery in Tallinn dating back to the 15th or 16th century and the burial place of ethnic Estonians and Swedes. The cemetery was flattened in 1964 during the Soviet occupation. Gravestones were reused as building material. The former graveyard is now a public park with only one identifier to its historic past: a small plaque on the restored chapel located in the park (a building which I could only see in the distance). The plaque identifies the location of the graveyard and memorializes those buried.

Tallinn, Kalamaja kalmista. Credit: lifar, Wikipedia
Tallinn, Kalamaja kalmista. Credit: lifar, Wikipedia 

Dig a little deeper as you travel and run. History is sometimes just below the surface and just beyond the locked gates.

What is the backstory behind your favorite or newly discovered trail?



  1. Oh, this is lovely. It gives me a sense of Tallinn and of your run. So challenging to run while in an unfamiliar place- and, especially country- as a lone female, don’t you think?Or maybe you’re braver than me!

  2. It is challenging. I usually do a “gut check” getting a vibe of the area before heading out. Not just safety, but I do have a tendency to get lost. Also to find good runs, I will check my localeikki app to see if there are any trails posted near my travel destination. Nothing is 100%, but if other runners, hikers, etc. have added a trail or path and provided information I feel more comfortable.

  3. Marylou, in northwest Poland I have visited small villages that were once German, but were overrun by Russians in spring 1945. Stalin wanted at the close of WW II to re-create Poland, giving it new lands that would be a barrier between Russia and Germany. The Russians army bulldozed village cemeteries to convince the Germans that it was time to flee–if Russian shooting, raping and pillaging hadn’t yet convinced them to abandon their property and land. Today the German cemeteries are gone, the old headstones used in construction by the Polish from the south who were forced into those northern lands.

    • I wasn’t aware it had happened there as well. In Estonia, the Kalamaja region was important for its access to the sea and the cemetery location is near the harbor.

    • That is a great goal and I’m glad she accomplished it. As we stopped at ports around the Baltic and North Sea, Russia was the only country where I didn’t get a run in. P.S. Love reading your travel posts.

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