Kadriorg is a quiet, leafy area within easy walking distance of Old Town. After Russian tsar Peter the Great conquered the Baltics in the early 1700s, he established an estate with a public park on this spot.
He named the area Ekaterinenthal (Catherine’s Valley, or Kadriorg in Estonian) after his wife, Catherine I. The Baroque palace he had built – along with the surrounding forests, ponds and fountains – are still the neighbourhood’s prime draw.
Over the next two centuries, the streets near the park became lined with ornate wooden mansions as Kadriorg developed into an upscale residential district. Unsurprisingly, the area also played a role in the early development of Estonia's spa culture – it was here in 1813 that a Doctor Benedikt Georg Witte established what would be the first seaside resort of the Russian Empire. Even today, having a Kadriorg address is a sign of prestige. The Estonian president’s residence and many foreign embassies are located in the area.
Kadriorg Park continues to be one of Tallinn's favourite spots for a stroll. It's remarkable for its diverse landscape architecture, which is showcased by the various smaller gardens on the estate, such as the Japanese Garden.
Not far from the park are located two other important Tallinn sights – Russalka and Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. Russalka is a monument by the sea, in memorial to those lost when the Tsarist armoured ship Russalka sank.
Take a short walk from there to the East, along the Pirita promenade, and you will see the most hallowed event venue in Estonia, the birthplace of the Singing Revolution - Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. It was here in 1988 that Estonia's massive, musical demonstration against Soviet rule set the nation on its road towards re-independence. However, most famously the site is home to the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration, an unforgettable event that takes place every five years, drawing together up to 34,000 performers and 200,000 spectators.
Culturally-minded visitors should note that Kadriorg is home to the nation’s best art museums, the quaint 1920-30s style houses of many classic Estonian authors and a children’s museum. The Kadriorg Palace itself acts as the showcase for the nation's foreign art collection, while the extensive Kumu, awarded the accolade of European Museum of the Year in 2008, displays both classical and contemporary Estonian art, and hosts international exhibitions.