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When I was looking up things to do in Tallinn, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was high up on my list of things to go and see. Although I didn't know much about the cathedral, it looked extremely beautiful from the pictures I saw online.
== Location ==
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral can be found at the top of Toompea hill in the old town of Tallinn. From anywhere in the old town, the hill is visible and although the cathedral is slightly hidden from the lower parts, you will still be able to see where you need to head to. The hill takes a good 5-10 minutes to walk up from the bottom and some of the cobbled streets can be quite confusing to navigate around but because of the height, the cathedral is quite easy to see once you start making your way up.
== History ==
The cathedral was built during the very late 1800s when Estonia was a part of the Russian Empire. From the day the doors opened, the building has always been an orthodox cathedral and is still used for those purposes today. As the name would suggest, the cathedral is named after and dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky and is also Tallinn's largest orthodox cathedral. Estonians showed a huge dislike to the cathedral as it was seen as a symbol of oppression and it has caused much controversy over the years. When Estonia regained their independence in 1991, the cathedral began being restored. The cathedral had been ordered to be demolished at one point but this was never carried out due to the sheer size of the building and lack of funds to carry out such an event. The exact spot of the cathedral is the place where a statue of Martin Luther once stood and it was placed here purposely.
== My Experience ==
The first thing I noticed about this beautiful cathedral was how out of place it seemed in the old town of Tallinn. Smack bang in the middle of old, cobbled streets is this massive structure that looks extremely expensive and luxurious. It certainly didn't fit in well with its surroundings. That being said, it instantly took my breath away as soon as I got remotely close to it. I couldn't get over how stunning this building was up-close. The first thing that I really noticed were the five black onion domes which stand out in comparison to the rest of the building which is a mix of cream and red brick. Dotted around the exterior of the building are gold and colour religious pictures which show just how lavish a structure this really is.
As you enter the cathedral, there are plenty of signs warning that photography is not allowed anywhere in the building. I thought that this was a real shame as the interior was even more stunning than the exterior but obviously, I would always respect some where's rules and wishes. As well as photography not being allowed, I would also say that respect is a big thing in this cathedral as it is used for services. Most people were quiet as they walked around the cathedral making the most of its beauty and the extravagant decoration. Fitting in with the exterior's use of gold, inside is a large gold screen which houses 13 religious paintings as well as a large gold door. This screen was sectioned off though so you aren't able to get very close to it. The rest of the interior is adorned with more spectacular religious paintings as well as lit candles all around. Although I am not religious at all, I could truly appreciate the work that has gone into this cathedral and how people who attend services here must feel.
We visited the cathedral at around midday and it was swarming with people. It seemed like a lot of the tourists visiting at this time were on group walking tours and as they were all at the same time, I would advise people to go in the late afternoon when it will be less busy. Entrance to the cathedral is free but there is a gift shop where you are encouraged to buy souvenirs where a lot of the proceeds go towards the upkeep of the building. The gift shop mainly sells postcards and candles and these you are able to light and place around the cathedral itself which I thought was a really nice touch for anyone who is religious. I only bought a couple of postcards but they were well priced at 0,70.
While I was sad that I couldn't take photos of the interior, I did purchase a couple of postcards which show this part of the cathedral so I will be able to always remember how beautiful it was. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral isn't a place that takes a long time to visit and you can really stay as long or as short as you please but it is definitely worth while to take your time and take in the amazing interior decoration. I am so glad that I made the trip up Toompea Hill to see this cathedral and it was certainly a highlight of my visit to Tallinn.
== Opening Hours ==
1st May - 30th September
Monday - Friday: 8am - 7pm
Saturday: 8am - 8pm
Sunday: 8am - 7pm