Toompea is the hill where the Danes built their fortress after conquering what is now Tallinn in 1219. According to legend, it is also the grave of Kalev, the mythical ancestor of the Estonians. Approach through the sturdy gate tower – built by the Teutonic Knights to contain the Old Town’s inhabitants in times of unrest – at the foot of Pikk jalg. This is the cobbled continuation of Pikk, the Old Town’s main street, that climbs up to Lossi plats, dominated by the impressive-looking Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral. This imposing onion-domed structure was built at the end of the nineteenth century for the city’s Orthodox population – an enduring reminder of the two centuries Tallinn spent under tsarist rule.
At the head of Lossi plats, the pink Toompea Castle stands on the site of the original Danish fortification. Rebuilt many times, the building is now home to the Riigikogu, Estonia’s parliament.