Tallinn Song Festival Grounds
On the following day, we investigated some of the more contemporary aspects of Estonia’s history. In the morning, we visited the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds which served as the backdrop to a culmination of Estonian nationalistic energy which had been suppressed under Soviet rule. As the country joined en masse to sing songs and hymns forbidden under the USSR, the force of this popular uprising prompted a bloodless revolution granting freedom to the Estonian people. The festival grounds continue both as a music venue and as a monument to the conviction of the Estonian people and the power released when a nation rises up with one voice to declare its identity.
Museum of the Occupation
Following the festival grounds, we visited the Museum of the Occupation. The museum documents the persecution Estonia endured under Nazi and Soviet rule. During the decades of oppression, many different peoples suffered hardship, exile, and death. The suitcases outside the museum door represent those who were told they were being relocated but instead were sent to their deaths. The exhibits were a moving and sobering reminder of the evil that can be done in the name of political goals.
We returned to the Old Town of Estonia in the afternoon to review some of the historic structures. The Old Town is home to the Estonian parliament and government offices. Numerous embassy buildings are also located within the walls of the old city. Also present are historic churches from both the Lutheran and Russian Orthodox traditions.