2024 European Capital of Culture Tartu, Estonia

Estonia´s second largest city (a bit over 97,000), astride the Emajõgi River a bit over two hours south of Tallinn by car or train, was founded in the 5th century and has long been known as an intellectual/cultural powerhouse (and home to the country´s national university, established in 1632). Much of Its center was destroyed in World War II, but there’s still a good deal of neoclassical architecture, and top attractions/landmarks include the old Lutheran Jaani Kirik (St. John's Church), its oldest, Gothic sections dating back to the 14th century when it was a Catholic church; the town hall, on the central square Raekoja Plats, d completed in a mix of neoclassical, Rococo, and Baroque in 1789; the older, early-19th-century buildings of the University of Tartu, the imposing ruins of the late-14th-century cathedral; and the Upside Down House (you/ve gotta see it to believe it). Other musts: the Tartu City Museum; the modern National Museum of Estonia; Tartamus art museum; the University of Tartu Museum; anhanging out in the boho neighborhood Karlova, the quirky nabe Supilinn (Soup Town), the factory.turned-complex of shops and restaurants Apaaratidas. and along the riverfront walk. And a final note: in addition to a good choice of great restaurants, the bar scene is also pretty lively, thanks of course to all the students.

Across a wide variety of more than a thousand events throughout the year, in addition to focusing on Tartu and southern Estonia the creative theme of Tartu 2024 is “Arts of Survival” —  concretely, “awareness,”  “co-creation,”  “uniqueness,” and “sustainability — make up “the knowledge, skills and values that will help us lead a good life in the future” (One of my faves: “A Washing Machine Made of Beetroot”). More info: Tartu2024.ee.

Read more in my post European Capitals of Culture 2024: Bad Ischl, Bodø, and Tartu.




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