Posted by: Bob Fisher | May 16, 2009

Spirit and Inspiration in Tartu, Estonia

headphonesymbol50… with Karin Jaanson, Deputy Mayor of Tartu


In Tartu, there is an idealism that is almost palpable; even the graffiti is upbeat and positive. This is a city in which youthfulness and “looking forward” is a way of life — no matter how old you are.

And given the complex history that this small European nation has experienced, it is all the more ennobling that the university town of Tartu quietly embodies the modernity of the new Europe in the 21st century.

A member of both the European Union and NATO, Estonia is a very modern and progressive nation; and according to more than one writer, Tartu is its “the spiritual capital.”

Human settlement in Tartu goes back thousands of years and the long history of the area up to modern times saw great and turbulent historic events as well as many conquests and occupations: Tsarist Russian, Soviet, German, Swedish, Polish. There is even an historic connection to the War of 1812 and Napoleon’s campaign.

Over time, the city has been known by three names: Tartu, Dorpat, and Jurjev. Tartu, by the way, was also visited by Catherine the Great who ordered it rebuilt in her favourite neo-classicist style. Examples of this architectural legacy are still visible in Tartu.

For me however, the Tartu spirit is best evoked by the captivating innocence and playfulness of the “Kissing Students” fountain and statue in front of the Town Hall in the Raekoja Plats (Central Square). The freedom of expression that this statue suggests, and the fact that it was placed in the most prominent position in the city, also clearly conveys the message that despite everything, renewal and regeneration are the essence of this city’s self-determination and optimism.


And now for that video, “The Best Pub in Tartu, Estonia.”

See also “Videomemories of Estonia.”

The official website of the city of Tartu

I invite you to watch an amusing and extremely well-done promotional video for Tartu (Let the video completely load before viewing. It will open in Windows Media.)

To access more grassroots information on the city of Tartu from “a guy who lives in Estonia with his family,” you may wish to read this blog.

You can also visit the official Estonia Tourist Board.

For a concise overview of Tartu, you may wish to read this webpage.

For additional information on Tartu, enter “This just in … from Tartu, Estonia” in the Search engine.


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