Photo: Toomas Tuul
Photo: Toomas Tuul

    Rocca al Mare – exciting animals and traditional country life

    Sitting at the western edge of the city is the coastal Rocca al Mare district. The area's name, meaning 'Rock by the Sea' in Italian, comes from a summer manor established here in 1863 by local baron Arthur Girard de Soucanton.

    That estate is now the site of the sprawling Estonian Open Air Museum, a forested park where you can learn about traditional Estonian village life. You can explore dozens of buildings from the past two centuries, including farms, mills, net sheds, a village school, a chapel, a firehouse, and much more. Museum workers in period costumes demonstrate different crafts and provide a glimpse into the bygone days. Also, if you happen to be in Tallinn on Shrove Tuesday, Easter, or Midsummer's Eve, be sure to visit the museum to get a glimpse of the local holiday customs. 
    Another exciting attraction in the area is Tallinn Zoo. African giants (elephants and rhinos), majestic predators, playful primates and a large number of other exotic and endangered species are represented. The Zoo also includes an impressive polar bear world and a children's petting Zoo. Tallinn Zoo lays claim to having one of the best collections of mountain goats and sheep in the world.

    If you are looking for something more adventurous, then head over to the FK Centre and try your hand at motorised karting and paintball. Located across the road from the Zoo is also Rocca al Mare Shopping Centre, a family-friendly mall with many restaurants, cafés, and a children's playground.
    Rocca al Mare is also where you find Saku Suurhall, the location of many of the city's major events, including fairs, pop concerts, and sports matches. Ice hockey and skating fans should head over to the nearby Škoda Ice Arena.

    The Rocca al Mare (or Haabersti) district is located only a few kilometres from the city centre and is easily accessible by public transport, bike or car.