Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Close to godliness in Tallinn

My sister and I were surprisingly efficient in seeing everything there was to see while we were in Tallinn those three days, so instead of giving a complete blow-by-blow account of everything we did, I’ve decided to just highlight the things I think everyone would be interested in. If you want to know more information, feel free to contact me and I’d be more than happy to indulge you with more.

Day 2 in Tallinn started out pretty relaxing – we took our time with free breakfast at the hotel and ended up meandering back into Old Town around noon, strolling along new paths and only generally checking the map to make sure we were going into parts of town we hadn’t yet seen.

Along one of these paths we ended up finding the Niguliste Church, which is a church that has been converted to a museum to house a lot of precious religious artwork. It still functions as a church as well, but many of the artworks within are from the 1300’s or so, giving it a bit more fame and fortune than others around it.

It is also the home of the famous painting, the “Danse Macabre” (aka “Dance of Death”), by Berndt Notke, which portrays skeletal figures dancing to music and cajoling members from each social class to  join them – unsurprisingly the humans look less than enthusiastic. My sister thought I had made up the name of this painting until we saw it in person and she realized that I wasn’t kidding…I explained that I would have come up with something much more ridiculous, like “Yikes McDeath Dance,” or something of the sort, but that’s another story.

There was a board game to buy in the gift shop, related to this painting, and I was this close to buying it, but seeing as how I already have a hard enough time convincing people to play normal board games with me, not including further embellishments such as medieval background music, I decided not to push my luck with period-specific games. Plus it was a two-player game…chances were slim there would be anyone nearby (i.e. in Finland), that would be as enthusiastic as me about this game. Oh well, I’ll take what I can get.

Anyway, once again our timing was perfect, and as soon as we paid the entrance fee, a small concert started. Unfortunately it wasn’t another bout of period minstrels, but it was a dang fine professional choir. We’re talking Gregorian-chant style choir, not typical gospel choir. It was beautiful and impressive. We sat through the entire thing and to be honest it was one of the most peaceful times I’ve had in a long time. As far as I could tell there was no album to buy, so no music was purchased, but had there been a CD available I would have considered adding it to further fuel my epic music collection (board game or no).

Another well-known church we visited the same day is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Lovingly referred to as, “the obscenely over-iced cake at a funeral feast” in the guide book, it was a cathedral built with the expressed purpose of reminding the Estonians that they were under the heel of the Russians. Sure was showy enough – not sure I’ve seen a cathedral more decked out and elaborate than this one. Every surface inside and out was decorated in some way – painted, covered in jewels, curlicues, had some sort of statue…anything to keep it from being plain. There is beauty in moderation…and these people had never heard of it. I’m just gonna go with something something tsarist times/see our power on this one.

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