Advantages Free, an unusual and important sight, interesting photo exhibition
Disadvantages Better to visit when event taking place
Known in Estonian as the Lauluväljak, the Tallinn Songbowl is one of the most important (if not THE most important) locations tied up in the fall of Communism in Estonia. Singing is hugely popular in the former Baltic coast Soviet States and the Tallinn bowl is where national competitions and festivals have been held; the first Estonian song festival was held in 1869 though of course the song bowl is not that old. At that time Estonia was already part of the Russian empire and a man called Johan Jansen was responsible for establishing the festival and, in so doing, awakening a sense of Estonian national pride in her people.When, in September 1988, 300,000 Estonians gathered at the song bowl they sang traditional Estonian songs that had been discouraged under Communism because they celebrated a national pride for Estonia and didn't embrace the Soviet collective ideals.
You enter the park though the big iron gates and go up the hill to the building - it's right in front of you as you enter. Take either side - it doesn't matter which and walk around to the front of the songbowl where you can either keep walking up the grass bank and admire the graceful curve of the canopy from a distance or go through one of the open gates and climb on to the steps of the songbowl where the singers sit during performances.You can also climb the 42 metre high fire tower which stands just to the right of the stage as you face it, which gives an interesting alternative perspective. As you climb the tower, you'll see that there is an excellent exhibition of photographs from Song Celebrations (as the singing events are known) over the years. Once you get to the top, you can can use the binoculars there to look out over the Baltic and it's said that on a clear day you can just make out the first islands of Finland.
There's nothing more to see than the actual structure itself but it is quite striking and it is a major part of Estonia's recent history and therefore it's enough important enough to be a tourist attraction in its own right. It's not very far from town and there are some other attractions in the area, chief among them Kadriorg, a magnificent baroque palace built in 1718 by Peter the Great for his wife, Catherine. Alternatively, you could just go for a walk along the sea front.I'm sure there can't be many visitors who haven't tried at least a verse or chorus of one of their favourite songs while standing on the songbowl steps! Even I waited until the coast was clear and tried a rousing chorus of "Because the night".
Take buses number 1,8,34 or 38 from the centre and alight when you see the Song Bowl on the right
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