Tallinn, a short historical overview
  The Tallinn region was settled on the shores of the Gulf of Finland by the
    Finno-Ugric people already about 3500 years ago. 
  By the 10th century ancient Tallinn was known as a port and marketplace
    among Scandinavian and Russian merchants. To protect the port a
    wooden fortress was built on the limestone cliff.
  1154 Arabian cartographer al-Idrisi marked Tallinn on his world map. 
  In 13th century the Knights of the Sword from Germany expanded to the
    eastern part of the Baltic Sea. Estonia became christianised and part of
    the European culture and economic life. 
The Danish Period: 1219-1346

In 1219 the Danes led by King Waldemar II, conquered Tallinn and Northern Estonia.
Hence the name Tallinn was derived: Taani linn (Danish city).
On Dome Hill (Toompea), the new stone fortress, and the Dome Church as a symbol of Christianity were built.

A populated city developed at the foot of Toompea. During the Danish period, a street network developed within the city walls that has remained to the present day. A town hall, guild houses, churches and convents, store-

houses and defensive structures were built. In 1248 the Lubeck law was mentioned for the first time in connection with Tallinn. The Danish king granted the Tallinners all the rights held by citizens of Lubeck in a document which remained the basis of the city organisation up until the late 19th century.

In 1285 Tallinn became a member of the Hanseatic League. The city now received two names, two coats of arms, and two flags.
By 1346 when Denmark sold Northern Estonia to the Germans, Tallinn was flourishing as a marketplace for traders.

Tallinn's golden age: from the 14th to the mid-16th century

The medieval Tallinn flourished from the 14th to the mid-16th century as a member of the powerful Hanseatic League. Tallinn's importance for the League rested on its strategic position as a port town on the trading route between Western Europe and Russia. Tallinn acts as a crossroads between East and West also today.
During this time Tallinn was one of the biggest towns in Northern Europe. The population grew up to 7,000-8,000 by the end of this period. Tallinn with its 66 defence towers belonged among the most powerful fortified towns in Northern Europe. The Lutheran Reformation (1524) replaced Catholicism with the Lutheran Church. This period witnessed the beginning of school education and the expanding of reading skill among the local people.
The influence of German culture was very strong on the language, building techniques, everyday life, and customs.

"The Good Old Swedish Time": 1561-1710

After the long hard years of Livonian War between Russian, Poland and Sweden this period is remembered as "the good old Swedish times" by the Estonians.
Tallinn capitulated to the Swedish king Erik XIV in 1561, while the whole Estonia was united as part of Swedish Kingdom in 1625.
During this period Tallinn forfeited its previous mercantile prosperity in the course of wars. Construction work concentrated on developing a powerful zone of earth fortresses outside the medieval town wall. The silhouette of the city changed - baroque, swelling tower tips rose beside the needle-sharp spires of older towers. The tall Gothic A-frame residential houses were kept, but their interiors were modernized. Churches and the Town Hall received new baroque interiors.
The era was significant for the rapid development of school education among the Estonians. 

The Tsarist Times: 1710-1917

Tallinn capitulated to Russian forces in 1710 as a result of the Northern War. Tsar Peter I guaranteed Tallinn a fair amount of autonomy within Tsarist Russia, whereas the local control over cultural and economy spheres was retained by the Baltic-German aristocracy.
Local government, civil and criminal laws, the court and school system, the Lutheran church and the conducting of official affairs in the German language was preserved.
The best part of the Tsarist Russian legacy in Tallinn can be seen in architecture. Baroque palace and park in Kadriorg, built by the orders of Peter I, the Estonian provincial government building on Toompea and many churches, theatres, banks and schoolhouses date from this period.
The mid-19th was the beginning of rapid industrial development and Tallinn became one of Russia's most important ports.

The 20th Century

February 24, 1918 marked the birth of the independent democratic Estonian republic, with Tallinn as its capital. The national tricolour was hoisted atop Tall Hermann.
During the next two years the Estonians fought against German and Russian forces to secure the independence. 
The War for Independence finished with the Tartu Peace Treaty signed in Tartu on February 2, 1920. Russia gave up all rights to sovereignty over Estonia with the peace treaty.
Independence gave such a strong thrust to the development of the city that the architectural additions of the 1920s and 1930s, particularly in residential buildings, remain among the best of the city's buildings.
Estonians proved their excellence at music, literature, sport and industry.
However, peaceful development lasted but twenty years. In 1939 Hitler and Stalin divided Europe in Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The secret protocols left Estonia in the sphere of interest of Russians.
The first Soviet occupation lasted from 1940-41, followed by a three-year German occupation. The second Soviet occupation ousted the Germans and remained from 1944 to 1991, nearly fifty years.
The Singing Revolution began in 1988, primarily at the initiative of creative unions and the Estonian Heritage Society.
On August 20, 1991, the Estonian Supreme Soviet declared the reestablishment of Estonian independence, on the basis of legal continuity, in Toompea Palace. 
Today, Tallinn is the capital of one of the most rapidly developing economies in the Baltic Sea Region. During the 10 years Tallinn has developed into a very modern and open city with tall glass and steel buildings, illuminated signs of major international companies, large shopping malls, newly renovated airport, ever growing cargo and passenger ports as well as dozens of new manufacturing and warehouse complexes. The medieval capital has turned into a modern IT-driven business cluster for various trades and industries.