Tartu is the second largest city of Estonia. In contrast to Estonia’s political and financial capital Tallinn, Tartu is often considered the intellectual and cultural hub, especially since it is home to Estonia’s oldest and most renowned university. Situated 186 km southeast of Tallinn, the city is the centre of southern Estonia. The Emajõgi River, which connects the two largest lakes of Estonia, crosses Tartu. The city is served by Tartu Airport. Historical names of the town include Tarbatu an Estonian fortress founded in the 5th century, Yuryev called in c. 1030 by Yaroslav I the Wise, and Dorpat by German crusaders in the 13 century. Tartu is a Hanseatic city and a nice old university town and the second largest city in Estonia with a population of 100,000. The city is about 1000 years old – the oldest in the Baltics. Tartu, lying 185 kilometres south-east of Tallinn, is also the centre of Southern Estonia. The Emajõgi River, which connects the two largest lakes of Estonia, flows for the length of 10 kilometres within the city limits and adds colour to the city. The first written records of Tartu date from 1030. Being a student town, English is pretty widely understood. As usual the older people are more likely to only speak Estonian and Russian but most can understand you if you speak clearly. There are 49 members on the town council, elected by residents every four years using a proportional system of representation. The executive branch of the town government consists of a mayor and five deputy mayors.  The current mayor is Urmas Kruuse. Andrus Ansip, the current Prime Minister of Estonia, was mayor for many years. Both Ansip and Kruuse are members of the Estonian Reform Party, which has dominated in Tartu in recent years. The city is best known for being the home to the University of Tartu, founded by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1632. Mainly for this reason, Tartu is also – tongue-in-cheek – known as “Athens of the Emajõgi” or as “Heidelberg of the North”. Tartu is also the seat of the Estonian University of Life Sciences, the Baltic Defence College, Tartu Aviation College, and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. The Estonian Supreme Court, which was re-established in Tartu in the autumn of 1993, is likewise in the city, as well as the Estonian Historical Archives and Estonian national theatre Vanemuine Tartu’s Old Town is pretty much navigable by foot, but if you want to go out of Old Town, then luckily Go Bus Tartu provides a public transport service with Automen. Tartu public transport is provided by Go Bus Tartu. There are 19 bus lines, plus an additional 2 night lines that make a circle in Tartu (21 in one direction, 22 in the opposite). Tickets are rather cheap. The architecture and city planning of historical Tartu mainly go back to the pre-independence period, with Germans forming the upper and middle classes of society, and therefore contributing many architects, professors, local politicians, etc. Most notable are the old Lutheran St. John’s Church (Estonian:Jaani Kirik, German: Johanneskirche), the 18th-century town hall, the university building, the remainders of the 13th-century cathedral, the botanical gardens, the main shopping street, and many buildings around the town hall square. The historical slum area called Supilinn is located on the bank of river Emajõgi, near the town centre and is regarded as one of the few surviving poor neighbourhoods in Europe from the 19th century. At the moment Supilinn is rapidly being renovated. In the suburbs, classic Soviet neighbourhoods – blocks of high-rise flats – were built during the period between the Second World War and restoration of Estonian independence in 1991. Presently, Tartu is also known for several modern, rather sterile-looking buildings of the “steel, concrete and glass” type, but has managed to retain a mix of old buildings and new buildings in the historical centre of town. Being the intellectual and cultural centre of Estonia, the Estonian Prime Minister often takes state guests to Tartu. Famous guests have included Charles, Prince of Wales, the presidents of Finland, Latvia, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, and Lithuania, as well as religious leaders like the Dalai Lama and the head of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, Patriarch Bartholomew I. Churches include St. John’s Church. The probably 14th century god’s house is famous for its thousands of medieval terracotta figures. Cathedral ruins on top of the Dome Hill is from the 13th century and was dedicated to apostles St. Peter and Paul. Today the choir part situates the Tartu University History Museum and the towers are reconstructed to sightseeing platforms. St. Paul’s church is a redbrick Finnish Jugendstil by the famous Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. On Riga street. St. Peter’s Church is a pseudogothic lutheran church form the 1903 is built on the grounds of the first general Estonian song festival which took place in 1869. Narva str. 104. Roman Catholic Church a beautiful neo-Histirical redbrick builing from 1899. Veski 1. St. Alexander`s Orthodox Church A two- storey church (architect V. Lunski) with cupolas inspired by the Old Russian church architecture. The congregation driven out 40 years ago. The church was reconsecrated in summer 2003. Sõbra 19a. Uspensky Orthodox Church is a early classical church built in 1783 with typical Russian classical elements. It´s located on the same place as the St. Mary- Magdalena’s Church of a Domonican cloister founded before 1300. Magasini 1. The Hanseatic Days is a summer party for the people of Tartu and also for the visitors to our city. Exciting to see and experience can be found for younger and older. This years Tartu Hanseatic Days include many times – the past, the present and the future. „Let’s go forward in history!“ In the Hanseatic Jaani Town there will be an enticing medieval atmosphere, in River Town you can experience prehistoric life and Contemporary Times give tone in Rae Town. This years’ update Children’s and Future Town is focused on children. Here you can find exciting events for children, the young but also those who feel young at heart and you can also learn more about visions for the future in this town. Many musicians and dancers from Tartu and elsewhere will perform. Different exhibits and interesting master classes and workshops invite guests. What adds colour to this summer’s Hanseatic Days is cooperation between two other great festivals – Glass Bead Game Festival and Barrel Organ Festival. Hundreds of traders will find their way to Tartu – they will sell unique handicrafts made of traditional or natural materials, interesting goods and foods and introduce medieval handicraft skills. The visitors of Hansamarket can choose from among necessary, interesting or just funny handmade things. The Hansamarket unites different ages into one big party of ages, towns, cultures and trade and makes Tartu Hanseatic Days a merry and joyful party. Tartu’s large student population means that it has a comparatively thriving nightlife, with some bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Annually, in the summer, Tartu hosts the Hansa Days Festival (Estonian: Hansapäevad) under the motto “History lives” when the old town is bustling with activty from handicraft markets and historic workshops to a jousting tournament.
Tartu Tourist Information Guide