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Tartu linn
City of Tartu
Tartu Sights And Skyline.jpg
From top to bottom: City Centre, Old Town of Tartu, University of Tartu
Tartu flag.svg
Tartu coat of arms.svg
Coat of arms
Heade mõtete linn ("City of good thoughts")
Estonia relief map.png
Red pog.svg
Location of Tartu in Estonia
Europe relief laea location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Tartu (Europe)
Coordinates: 58°23′N26°43′E / 58.383°N 26.717°E / 58.383; 26.717 Coordinates: 58°23′N26°43′E / 58.383°N 26.717°E / 58.383; 26.717
CountryFlag of Estonia.svg Estonia
County Tartumaa lipp.svg Tartu County
First settled5th century AD
First mentioned1030
City rightsbefore 1262
Named for Taara or tarvas (Aurochs)
  Mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform Party)
  Total38.80 km2 (15 sq mi)
  Land37.9 km2 (14.6 sq mi)
  Water1.3 km2 (0.5 sq mi)  3.39%
57.2 m (188 ft)
Highest elevation
79 m (259 ft)
(2018) [1]
  Rank 2nd
  Density2,508.6/km2 (6,497/sq mi)
Resident registration (2017)
   Estonians 80.1%
   Russians 14.6%
Time zone UTC+2 (EET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
50050 to 51111
Vehicle registration T
Website tartu.ee

Tartu (Estonian pronunciation:  [ˈtɑrtˑu] , South Estonian: Tarto) is the second largest city of Estonia, after Estonia's political and financial capital Tallinn.

South Estonian dialect/language spoken in South-Eastern Estonia

South Estonian is spoken in south-eastern Estonia, encompassing the Tartu, Mulgi, Võro and Seto varieties. There is no academic consensus on its status, as some linguists consider South Estonian a dialect of Estonian whereas other linguists consider South Estonian an independent Finnic language. South Estonian is largely mutually intelligible with modern standard Estonian, although diachronically North and South Estonian are separate branches of the Finnic languages.

Estonia Republic in Northern Europe

Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia, is a country in Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland with Finland on the other side, to the west by the Baltic Sea with Sweden on the other side, to the south by Latvia (343 km), and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia (338.6 km). The territory of Estonia consists of a mainland and 2,222 islands in the Baltic Sea, covering a total area of 45,227 km2 (17,462 sq mi), water 2,839 km2 (1,096 sq mi), land area 42,388 km2 (16,366 sq mi), and is influenced by a humid continental climate. The official language of the country, Estonian, is the second most spoken Finnic language.

Tallinn City in Harju, Estonia

Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It is on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland in Harju County. From the 13th century until 1918, the city was known as Reval. Tallinn occupies an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) and has a population of 453,033.


Tartu is often considered the intellectual centre of the country, [3] [4] [5] especially since it is home to the nation's oldest and most renowned university, the University of Tartu. The city also houses the Supreme Court of Estonia, the Ministry of Education and Research, and the new building of the Estonian National Museum, opened to the public in October 2016.

University of Tartu university in the city of Tartu, Estonia

The University of Tartu is a classical university in the city of Tartu, Estonia. It is the national university of Estonia. The University of Tartu is the only classical university in the country and also the biggest and most prestigious university in Estonia. It was established by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1632.

The Supreme Court of Estonia is the court of last resort in Estonia. It is both a court of cassation and a constitutional court. The courthouse is in Tartu.

Ministry of Education and Research (Estonia)

The Ministry of Education and Research is a government ministry of Estonia, responsible for the planning and carrying out education, research, youth, and language policies, developing the national curricula and other educational standards and performing state supervision over the compliance of national curricula and other educational standards and educational institutions. Its head office is in Tartu and it also maintains offices in the capital, Tallinn. The current Minister of Education and Research is Mailis Reps.

It is also the birthplace of Estonian Song Festivals.

Estonian Song Festival music festival in Estonia

The Estonian Song Festival is one of the largest amateur choral events in the world, a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It is held every five years in July on the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (Lauluväljak) simultaneously with the Estonian Dance Festival. The joint choir has comprised more than 30,001 singers performing to an audience of 80,000.

Situated 186 kilometres (116 miles) southeast of Tallinn and 245 kilometres (152 miles) northeast of Riga, Tartu lies on the Emajõgi ("Mother river"), which connects the two largest lakes of Estonia. The city is served by Tartu Airport.

Emajõgi river in Estonia flowing into Lake Peipus

Emajõgi is a river in Estonia which flows from Lake Võrtsjärv through Tartu County into Lake Peipus, crossing the city of Tartu for 10 km. It has a length of 100 km.

Tartu Airport airport in Estonia

Tartu Airport, is an airport in Reola, Ülenurme Parish, 5.9 nautical miles south southwest of Tartu, the second largest city in Estonia. It is also called Ülenurme Airport due to its proximity to the village of Ülenurme. The Tallinn–Tartu–Võru–Luhamaa highway (E263) passes near the airport.

Names and etymology

Since 1918, the Estonian name Tartu has been used, but as the town has come under control of various rulers throughout its history, there have been various names for it in different languages. Most of them derive ultimately from the earliest attested form, the Estonian Tarbatu. In German, Swedish and Polish the town has been known and is sometimes still referred to as Loudspeaker.svg Dorpat  , a variant of Tarbatu. In Russian, the city has been known as Юрьев (Yur′yev, after Yuri, the baptismal name of Grand Prince Yaroslav I the Wise) and as Дерпт (Derpt, from the Low German variant of Dorpat). Similarly, the city has been known as Tērbata in Latvian, while Finnish-speakers use the toponym Tartto.

Swedish language North Germanic language spoken in Sweden

Swedish is a North Germanic language spoken natively by 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden, and in parts of Finland, where it has equal legal standing with Finnish. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and to some extent with Danish, although the degree of mutual intelligibility is largely dependent on the dialect and accent of the speaker. Both Norwegian and Danish are generally easier for Swedish speakers to read than to listen to because of difference in accent and tone when speaking. Swedish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era. It has the most speakers of the North Germanic languages.

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.


Historical affiliations

  Ugandi County pre-1030
Yarthewise.png Kievan Rus' 1030–1061
  Ugandi County 1061–1134
Yarthewise.png Kievan Rus' 1134
  Ugandi County 1134–1191/1192
Yarthewise.png Kievan Rus' 1191/1192
  Ugandi County 1191/1192–1220
Zakon Kawalerow Mieczowych COA.svg Livonian Brothers of the Sword 1220–1223
  Ugandi County 1223
Nowogrod.svg Novgorod Republic 1223–1224
Tartu coat of arms.svg Bishopric of Dorpat 1224–1558
Great banner of Ivan IV of Russia.jpg Tsardom of Russia 1558–1582
Choragiew krolewska krola Zygmunta III Wazy.svg Duchy of Livonia (Poland-Lithuania) 1582–1600
Sweden-Flag-1562.svg Kingdom of Sweden 1600–1603
Choragiew krolewska krola Zygmunta III Wazy.svg Duchy of Livonia (Poland-Lithuania) 1603–1625
Sweden-Flag-1562.svg Kingdom of Sweden 1625–1656
Flag of Oryol (variant).svg Tsardom of Russia 1656–1661
Sweden-Flag-1562.svg Kingdom of Sweden 1661–1704
Flag of Russia.svg Tsardom of Russia 1704–1721
Flag of Russia.svg Russian Empire 1721–1917
Flag of Russia (1696-1917).svg  Russian Republic 1917
Red flag.svg Russian Soviet Republic 1917–1918
Flag of Estonia.svg  Republic of Estonia 1918
Flag of the German Empire.svg Ober Ost 1918
United Baltic Duchy flag.svg  United Baltic Duchy 1918
Flag of Estonia.svg  Republic of Estonia 1918
Flag of the Commune of the Working People of Estonia.svg Commune of the Working People of Estonia 1918–1919
Flag of Estonia.svg  Republic of Estonia 1919–1940
Flag of Estonia.svg  Republic of Estonia (Soviet-occupied) 1940
Flag of Estonian SSR 1940 1953.svg Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic 1940
Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 1940–1941
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg German Military Administration 1941
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Reichskommissariat Ostland 1941–1944
Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 1944–1990
Flag of Estonia.svg  Republic of Estonia (in transition) 1990–1991

Ugandi County

Ugandi was an independent county between the east coast of Lake Võrtsjärv and west coast of Lake Pskov, bordered by Vaiga, Mõhu, Nurmekund, Sakala, Tālava, and The Principality of Pskov. Ugandi had an area of approximately 3000 hides. Ugandi corresponded roughly to the present Estonia's territory of Võru County, Põlva County and half of Tartu County and Valga County, as well as Petseri County.

Kievan Rus Former federation of East Slavic and Finnic tribes

Kievan Rus' was a loose federation of East Slavic and Finnic peoples in Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century, under the reign of the Varangian Rurik dynasty. The modern nations of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine all claim Kievan Rus' as their cultural ancestors, with Belarus and Russia deriving their names from it.

The Livonian Brothers of the Sword was a Catholic military order established by Albert, the third bishop of Riga, in 1202. Pope Innocent III sanctioned the establishment in 1204 for the second time. The membership of the order comprised German "warrior monks" who fought Baltic and Finnic pagans in the area of modern-day Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Alternative names of the Order include Christ Knights, Sword Brethren, and The Militia of Christ of Livonia. The seal reads: +MAGISTRI ETFRM MILICIE CRI (Christi) DE LIVONIA.

Flag of Estonia.svg  Republic of Estonia 1991–onwards


Archaeological evidence of the first permanent settlement on the site of modern Tartu dates to as early as the 5th century AD. [6] [7] By the 7th century, local inhabitants had built a wooden fortification on the east side of Toome Hill (Toomemägi). [7]

The first documented record of the area was made in 1030 by chroniclers of Kievan Rus. Yaroslav I the Wise, Prince of Kiev, invaded the region that year, built his own fort there, and named it Yuryev [7] [8] (literally "Yury's" – Yury (a Russified form of George) being Yaroslav's Christian name). Kievan rulers then collected tribute from the surrounding ancient Estonian county of Ugaunia,[ citation needed ] possibly until 1061, when, according to chronicles, Yuryev was burned down by Estonian tribe called Sosols. [9] Kievan Rus' again controlled Tartu from 1133 for an unknown period, possibly up to 1176/1177. [10] In the 12th century Tartu was the most notable Slavic settlement in Chud territory. [11]

Estonian amateur historian Enn Haabsaar speculates that the "Yuryev" mentioned in this context is actually Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, a town that was also founded by Yaroslav I the Wise as Yuriev about the same time, 1032. [12] His views have been criticized by historian Ain Mäesalu. [7]

Medieval bishopric

The city of Tartu in 1533 Tartu 1553.jpg
The city of Tartu in 1533
Tartu Toomkirik - panoramio (1).jpg
Tartu Toomkiriku varemed 2012.jpg
Tartu Cathedral ruins

During the period of Northern Crusades in the beginning of the 13th century the fort of Tarbatu (or Tharbata, Tartu) was captured by the crusading Livonian Knights — also known as the Brothers of the Sword (German: Schwertbrüder) — and recaptured by Estonians on several occasions. In 1224, after Ugaunia had recognized the supremacy of Novgorod and Pskov princes who sent additional troops led by prince Vyachko of Kukenois to the fort, it was besieged and conquered for one last time by the German crusaders. [13] Subsequently, known as Dorpat (Latin: Tarbatum), Tartu became a commercial centre of considerable importance during the later Middle Ages and the capital of the semi-independent Bishopric of Dorpat.

In 1262 the army of Prince Dmitri of Pereslavl, son of Alexander Nevsky launched an assault on Dorpat, capturing and destroying the town. His troops did not manage to capture the bishop's fortress on Toome Hill. The event was recorded both in German and Old East Slavic chronicles, which also provided the first record of a settlement of German merchants and artisans which had arisen alongside the bishop's fortress.

In medieval times, after the Livonian Order was subsumed into the Teutonic Knights in 1236, the town became an important trading city. In the 1280s Dorpat joined the Hanseatic League. As in all of Estonia and Latvia, the largely German-speaking nobility, but in Tartu/Dorpat (as in Tallinn) even more so, the Baltic German bourgeoisie, the literati, dominated culture, religion, architecture, education, and politics until the late 19th century. For example, the town hall of Dorpat was designed by an architect from Rostock in Mecklenburg, while the university buildings were designed by Johann Wilhelm Krause, another German. Many, if not most, of the students, and more than 90 percent of the faculty members were of German descent, and numerous statues of notable scholars with German names can still be found in Tartu today. Most Germans left during the first half of the 20th century, in particular as part of the Heim ins Reich program of the Nazis, following the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in 1939.

Swedish and Polish rule

University of Tartu main building. Tartu Ulikooli peahoone 2012.jpg
University of Tartu main building.

In 1558, tsar Ivan the Terrible invaded Tartu beginning the Livonian War. Forces under the command of Pyotr Shuiski encircled the town and began heavy bombardment. In light of this and without any prospect of external help the town surrendered. The local bishop was imprisoned in Moscow, which effectively ended the period of local self-government. In the effect of the Truce of Jam Zapolski of 1582 the city along with southern regions of Livonian Confederation became part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1598 it became the capital of the Dorpat Voivodeship of the Duchy of Livonia. A Jesuit grammar school "Gymnasium Dorpatense" was established in 1583. In addition, a translators' seminary was organized in Tartu and the city received its red and white flag from the Polish king Stephen Báthory.

The activities of both the grammar school and the seminary were stopped by the Polish–Swedish War. Already in late 1600 the forces of Charles IX of Sweden besieged the city defended by three banners of reiters and the city's burghers. Despite repeated assaults, the Swedes could not enter the city. Finally in 1601 Capt. Hermann Wrangel switched sides, assaulted the castellan and opened the gates for the Swedish forces. The town was retaken by Poland on 13 April 1603 following a brief siege led by hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz; roughly 1000 Swedish soldiers surrendered and were escorted to Tallinn.

In the effect of yet another Polish-Swedish War, in 1625 Tartu was once again captured by Sweden, this time for good. In the effect of the 1629 Truce of Altmark the city became part of the Dominions of Sweden, which led to the foundation of the University of Tartu in 1632 by king Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.

Imperial Russia

The Stone Bridge and the Old Town in 1860 Album von Dorpat, TKM 0031H 06, crop.jpg
The Stone Bridge and the Old Town in 1860

In 1704 the town was taken by Russian army in the presence of tsar Peter the Great himself. As a result, around a quarter of the town and much of the fortifications were damaged. In 1708 the remainder of the fortifications and houses, including the remains of bishops castle, were blown up, all movable property was looted and all citizens deported to Russia. With the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, the city became part of the Russian Empire and was known as Derpt. Fires in the 18th century destroyed much of the medieval architecture, the Great Fire of Tartu in 1775 removed most of the buildings in the centre. The city was rebuilt along Late Baroque and Neoclassical lines including the Tartu Town Hall which was built between 1782 and 1789. [14]

During the second half of the 19th century, Tartu was the cultural centre for Estonians in the era of Romantic nationalism. The city hosted Estonia's first song festival in 1869. Vanemuine , the first national theatre, was established in 1870. Tartu was also the setting for the foundation of the Society of Estonian Writers in 1872.

Tartu Town Hall Tartu Raekoda 2012.jpg
Tartu Town Hall

Tartu railway station was opened in 1876 when Tapa–Tartu route was built. The station building was opened in 1877.

In 1893, the city was officially retitled to the ancient Russian name Yuryev. The university was subsequently russified from 1895 on with the introduction of compulsory Russian in teaching. Much of the university property was relocated to Voronezh in 1918 and during the German occupation the University worked under the name Landesuniversität Dorpat. During the Estonian War of Independence university of Tartu was re-opened as an Estonian language university on 1 December 1919.

First independence period

With Estonian independence after World War I, the city officially became known by the Estonian name Tartu. At the end of Estonian War of Independence following World War I, a peace treaty between the Bolsheviks and Estonia was signed on 2 February 1920 in Tartu (Treaty of Tartu). The treaty meant that Soviet Russia renounced territorial claims to Estonia "for all time". However, as a result of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia and Tartu in 1940.

Peace treaty between Soviet Russia and Finland was also signed in Tartu in 1920.

During the interwar period Tähtvere neighbourhood was built, former Raadi Manor buildings started to house Estonian National Museum (destroyed during Tartu Offensive in 1944) and art school Pallas was opened.

Soviet period

During World War II, a large part of the city as well as the historical Kivisild (Stone Bridge) (built by Catherine II of Russia in 1776–1778) over the Emajõgi river were destroyed by the retreating Soviet Army, partly in 1941 and almost completely in 1944 by then retreating German Army. Already heavily damaged Tartu was bombed by Soviet forces on 27 January 1943, 26 February 1944, 7–8 March 1944, and 25–26 March 1944. After the war ended, much of the historical downtown area was left in ruins. Even the less damaged buildings in entire city blocks were torn down by the order of the occupational authorities and large swathes of land turned into public parks.

After the war, Tartu was declared a "closed town" to foreigners, as an air base for bombers was constructed on Raadi Airfield, in the northeast outskirts of the city. It was one of the biggest military air bases in Eastern Europe and housed intercontinental fighters, that carried nuclear bombs. The location itself was where the Estonian 2nd Air Division was situated prior to the Soviet occupation. The concrete runway there now houses a large used cars market, and is sometimes used for automotive racing. On one end of an older strip of the runway, the new building of Estonian National Museum was built.

Tartu Airport was opened in south of city in 1946. Besides the airport Estonian Aviation Academy was established in 1993 and Estonian Aviation Museum was opened to the public in 2002. During Soviet times the population of Tartu almost doubled from 57,000 to 100,000, partly due to mass immigration from other areas of the Soviet Union, mainly because of the military air base.

AHHAA Science Centre AHHAA.jpg
AHHAA Science Centre

Modern era

Since Estonia regained its independence in 1991, the old town centre is being renovated. Notably, St. John's Church, in ruins since World War II, has been restored.

Many new commercial and business buildings have been erected (Tartu Shopping Center, Tasku, Emajõe Commercial Center, Lõunakeskus, Kvartal etc.). Highest residential building and local landmark Tigutorn was opened in 2008.

The AHHAA science center relocated to a new building in 201,1 and the Estonian National Museum's new main building opened in 2016.



Tartu lies within the temperate humid continental climate zone. The climate is rather mild considering the high latitude, largely due to the proximity of the Baltic Sea and warm airflows from the Atlantic. Nevertheless, continental influence can be felt on hot summer days and cold spells in winter, when temperature can occasionally (but rarely) drop below −30 °C (−22 °F). Generally, summers are cool to warm and winters are cold.

Climate data for Tartu (Tõravere) 1981–2010
Record high °C (°F)9.7
Average high °C (°F)−2.1
Daily mean °C (°F)−4.6
Average low °C (°F)−7.1
Record low °C (°F)−35.4
Average precipitation mm (inches)48
Average relative humidity (%)88857969667274788386898980
Mean monthly sunshine hours 31.563.6127.3183.3257.0251.1268.6219.9135.881.531.324.31,675.8
Source: Estonian Weather Service [15] [16] [17] [18]


There are 49 members on the town council, elected by residents every four years using a proportional system of representation. [19]

The executive branch of the town government consists of a mayor and five deputy mayors. [20] The current mayor is Urmas Klaas. Andrus Ansip, Prime Minister of Estonia from 2005 to 2014, was mayor of Tartu from 1998 to 2004. The position was later served by other politicians who eventually became ministers of government, Laine Jänes and Urmas Kruuse. All of them are members of the Estonian Reform Party, which has dominated in Tartu since 1998.


Mostly known as a university town, Tartu is also a site of heavy industry. The food industry has traditionally been important for the town's economy and some bigger companies in the field include A. Le Coq, Tartu Mill and Salvest. Kroonpress is the leading printing press company the Baltic States.

In the beginning of the 21st century, many ICT enterprises and other high-tech companies have taken a foothold in Tartu. Notable examples include Playtech Estonia, Nortal (formerly Webmedia Group), ZeroTurnaround, Tarkon, Reach-U and Raintree Estonia. Skype has an office in Tartu. The university is one of the largest employers, which explains the large proportion of highly skilled professionals – researchers, professors, doctors, and Tartu University Clinic has been considered the largest employer of Tartu.[ citation needed ]


Statistics 2017 [21]
Estonians 74,39679.9%
Russians 13,54314.5%
Ukrainians 9571.0%
Finns 8560.9%
Belarusians 3350.4%
Germans 2800.3%
Latvians 1980.2%
Poles 1090.1%
Lithuanians 1090.1%

Tartu's historic population is presented in the following table, based on data from official censuses since 1881 [22] and Estonian Statistical Office. [23] Note that the data up to 2011 is not directly comparable to the most recent numbers, as the methodology of compiling population statistics has changed. [24]


Tartu is officially divided into 17 neighbourhoods, which carry no administrative purposes. Their names and borders are defined.

NeighborhoodArea (ha)Residents 2001Residents 2006Residents 2012
Annelinn 54130,00028,20027,480
Ihaste 4241,0001,8002,322
Jaamamõisa 1493,0003,0003,202
Karlova 2309,5009,0009,073
Kesklinn 1807,5006,7006,575
Maarjamõisa 113800500377
Raadi-Kruusamäe 2835,0004,8004,626
Ropka 1465,5005,3005,120
Ropka industrial district 3542,7002,7002,511
Ränilinn 1222,5001,8001,732
Supilinn 482,1001,8001,790
Tammelinn 3118,0008,1008,195
Tähtvere 2504,5003,5003,023
Vaksali 752,9003,1003,206
Variku 772,0001,9001,840
Veeriku 2815,5005,3005,561
Ülejõe 3028,2007,7007,876
Oscar Wilde in Estonia%3F (3538497107).jpg
A memorial to Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde
The fountain "Kissing Students" (Estonian: Suudlevad Tudengid) reminds visitors that the University of Tartu and its students have a profound effect on life in Tartu.

Education and culture

The city is best known for being home to the University of Tartu, founded under King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1632. Mainly for this reason, Tartu is also – tongue-in-cheek – known as "Athens of the Emajõgi" or as "Heidelberg of the North".

Tartu is also the seat of the Estonian University of Life Sciences, the Baltic Defence College, Estonian Aviation Academy (formerly known as Tartu Aviation College), and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. Other notable institutions include the Supreme Court of Estonia (re-established in Tartu in autumn 1993), the Estonian Historical Archives, Estonian National Museum, Estonian Sports Museum as well as the oldest and renowned theatre in the country, Vanemuine, where they have a well-respected ballet company as well as theatre, opera and musical productions.

In music, there exists the Tartu school of composition.

Most of the sculptures in Tartu are dedicated to historical figures. Among them the most famous are the Barclay de Tolly monument on the Barclay Square in downtown, the Kissing students monument on the town hall square and Gustav II Adolf´s monument on the Kuningaplats.


Tartu has been an intellectual centre of both Estonia and the Baltic countries for several centuries. Scholars hailing from Tartu include the pioneer of embryology Karl Ernst von Baer, a pioneer of animal behaviour studies Jakob von Uexküll, and a cultural theorist and semiotician Juri Lotman. Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, a Baltic German physician, naturalist, and entomologist, was born in Tartu. He was one of the earliest scientific explorers of the Pacific region, making significant collections of flora and fauna in Alaska, California, and Hawaii. Nobel Chemistry Prize laureate Wilhelm Ostwald studied and worked in Tartu. The Tartu School is one of the leading scientific schools in semiotics.

Main sights

Tartu-Jaani-church-2012-06 3.png
St. John's Church
Tartu St Johns church interior.jpg

The architecture and city planning of historical Tartu mainly go back to the pre-independence period, with Germans forming the upper and middle classes of society, and therefore contributing many architects, professors and local politicians.

Most notable are the old Lutheran St. John's Church (Estonian : Jaani Kirik, German: Johanneskirche), the 18th-century town hall, the university building, ruins of the 13th-century cathedral, the botanical gardens, the main shopping street, many buildings around the town hall square and Barclay Square.

The historical slum area called Supilinn (Soup Town) is located on the bank of river Emajõgi, near the town centre and is regarded as one of the few surviving "poor" neighbourhoods of 19th-century Europe. At the moment Supilinn is being rapidly renovated, undergoing a slow transformation from the historic slum into a prestigious high-class neighborhood. The active community embodied by the Supilinn Society is committed to preserving the heritage.

The Second World War destroyed large parts of the city centre and during the Soviet occupation many new buildings were erected – notably the new Vanemuine Theater. The effects of the war are still witnessed by the relative abundance of parks and greenery in the historic centre. Typical Soviet-style neighbourhoods of blocks of high-rise flats were built between World War II and the restoration of Estonian independence in 1991, the largest such district being Annelinn.

Presently, Tartu is also known for several modern buildings of the "steel, concrete and glass" variation, but has managed to retain a mix of old and new buildings in the centre of town. Notable examples include the Tigutorn Tower and the Emajõe Centre, both built during the current period of independence; Tartu's tallest and second tallest towers, respectively. Tartu's large student population means that it has a comparatively thriving nightlife, with many nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, including the world's highest-ceiling pub, in the historic Gunpowder Cellar of Tartu.

Annually, in the summer, Tartu hosts the Hanseatic Days festival (Estonian : Hansapäevad) to celebrate its Hanseatic heritage. The festival includes events such as handicraft markets, historic workshops and jousting tournaments.


Tartu is the home for basketball club Tartu Ülikool/Rock, which is participating in the Korvpalli Meistriliiga, the Baltic Basketball League and the EuroChallenge.

Football club JK Tammeka Tartu, one of the Meistriliiga clubs, is located in Tartu. Their home stadium is the Tamme Staadion, which has a capacity of 1 600 people. The city is also home to the Tartu JK Welco and FC Santos Tartu clubs, which play in the Esiliiga, the second division.

There is a professional handball team, the Tartu Ülikool/Glassdrive, which plays in the second division of Estonian handball.

Tartu is the hometown of the BIGBANK Tartu volleyball club.

Tartu is also the hometown of Clement "Puppey" Ivanov, captain of Team Secret, a professional Dota 2 team. He won the first International, and was runner-up two years in a row with Natus Vincere. [25]

The 2017 World Orienteering Championships were held in Tartu. [26]

The annual running event Tartu Sügisjooks takes place in Tartu.

Notable people

International relations

Twin towns – Sister cities

Tartu is twinned with: [27]

See also

Related Research Articles

The history of Estonia forms a part of the history of Europe. Humans settled in the region of Estonia near the end of the last glacial era, beginning from around 8500 BC. Before German crusaders invaded in the early 13th century, proto-Estonians of ancient Estonia worshipped spirits of nature. Starting with the Northern Crusades in the Middle Ages, Estonia became a battleground for centuries where Denmark, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Poland fought their many wars over controlling the important geographical position of the country as a gateway between East and West.

Pärnu City in Pärnu County, Estonia

Pärnu is the fourth largest city in Estonia. Located in southwestern Estonia on the coast of Pärnu Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Livonia in the Baltic Sea. It is a popular summer holiday resort with many hotels, restaurants, and large beaches. The Pärnu River flows through the city and drains into the Gulf of Riga. The city is served by Pärnu Airport.

Counties are the first-level administrative subdivisions of Estonia. Estonian territory is composed of 15 counties, including 13 on the mainland and 2 on islands. The government of each county is led by a maavanem (governor) who represents the national government at the regional level. Governors are appointed by the national government for a term of five years.

Valga, Estonia Town in Valga, Estonia

Valga is a town in southern Estonia and the capital of Valga County. Until their separation in 1920, Valga and the town of Valka in northern Latvia were one town. They are now twin-towns. The area of Valga is 16.5 square kilometres and that of Valka is 14.2 km2 (5.5 sq mi). Their populations are respectively 12,261 and 6,164. On 21 December 2007 all border-crossing points were removed and roads and fences opened between the two countries with both countries joining the Schengen Agreement.

Lääne County County of Estonia

Lääne County, or Läänemaa, is one of 15 counties of Estonia. It is located in western Estonia and borders the Baltic Sea to the north, Harju County to the north-east, Rapla County to the east, Pärnu County to the south, and the island counties of Saare and Hiiu to the west. In January 2009 Lääne County had a population of 23,810 – constituting 2.0% of the total population in Estonia.

Tartu County County of Estonia

Tartu County, or Tartumaa, is one of 15 counties of Estonia.

Lydia Koidula Estonian poet

Lydia Emilie Florence Jannsen,, known by her pen name Lydia Koidula, was an Estonian poet. Her sobriquet means 'Lydia of the Dawn' in Estonian. It was given to her by the writer Carl Robert Jakobson. She is also frequently referred to as Koidulaulik – 'Singer of the Dawn'.

Bishopric of Dorpat

The Bishopric of Dorpat was a medieval prince-bishopric, i;e; both a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church and a temporal principality ruled by the bishop of the diocese. It existed from 1224 to 1558, generally encompassing what are now Tartu County, Põlva County, Võru County, and Jõgeva County in Estonia. The prince-bishopric was a sovereign member of the Holy Roman Empire and part of the Livonian Confederation.

Ugaunians or Ugannians, referred to as Chudes by the earliest Russian chronicles were historical Finnic people inhabiting the ancient southern Estonian Ugandi County (Latin:Ungannia) that is now Tartu, Põlva, Võru and Valga counties of Estonia.

Russians in Estonia ethnic group

The population of Russians in Estonia is estimated at 320,000, most of whom live in the urban areas of Harju and Ida-Viru counties. Estonia has a 300-year old history of small-scale settlement by Russian Old Believers along Lake Peipus.

Treaty of Tartu (Russian–Estonian) 1920 treaty between Estonia and the Soviet Union

The Tartu Peace Treaty or Treaty of Tartu is a peace treaty between Estonia and Soviet Russia signed on 2 February 1920, ending the Estonian War of Independence. The terms of the treaty stated that "Russia unreservedly recognises" the independence of the Republic of Estonia de jure and renounced in perpetuity all rights to the territory of Estonia. Ratifications of the treaty were exchanged in Moscow on 30 March 1920. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 12 July 1922.

Tartu Offensive

The Tartu Offensive Operation, also known as the Battle of Tartu and the Battle of Emajõgi was a campaign fought over southeastern Estonia in 1944. It took place on the Eastern Front during World War II between the Soviet 3rd Baltic Front and parts of the German Army Group North.

Tartu Cathedral cathedral in Tartu, Estonia

Tartu Cathedral, earlier also known as Dorpat Cathedral, is a former Catholic church in Tartu (Dorpat), Estonia. The building is now an imposing ruin overlooking the lower town. In the small part of it that has been renovated is now located the museum of the University of Tartu, which the university also uses for major receptions.

The siege of Tartu took place in 1224 and resulted in the fall of the last major center of Estonian resistance in the mainland provinces to the Christian conquest of Estonia.

Eastern Orthodoxy in Estonia Wikipedia disambiguation page

Eastern Orthodoxy in Estonia is practiced by 16.5% of the population, making it the most identified religion and Christian denomination in this majority-secular state after surpassing Lutheran Christianity with 9.1% for first time in country's modern history. Eastern Orthodoxy, or more specifically Eastern Orthodox Christianity, is mostly practiced within Estonia's Russian ethnic minority and minority within native population. According to the 2000 Estonian census, 72.9% of those who identified as Orthodox Christians were of Russian descent.

Great fire of Tartu

The Great fire of Tartu took place on 6 July [O.S. 25 June] 1775 and destroyed most of the city of Tartu in what is now Estonia. The fire destroyed the centre of the city.


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