From Academic Kids

Missing image
Image of Tartu street

Tartu (German and Polish: Dorpat) is the second largest city of Estonia, with a population of 100,482 (census data as of 2004) with an area of 38.8 km². The first written records of Tartu date from 1030. In contrast to Estonia's political and financial capital Tallinn, Tartu is often considered the intellectual and cultural centre, especially since it is home to Estonia's oldest and most renowned university. Situated 180 km southeast of Tallinn, Tartu is the centre of Southern Estonia. The Emajgi river (German Embach), which connects the two largest lakes of Estonia, crosses the city for a length of 10 km and adds colour.




Ca 600 AD, on the east side of Toome Hill (Toomemgi) the Estonians erected a fortress called Tarbatu. The first documented record of the place was made in 1030. Yaroslav the Wise, Prince of Kiev, raided Tarbatu that year and built his own fort in that place, which went by the name of Yuryev (to honour St. George, or Yuriy, the patron saint of Yaroslav).

Germans in Dorpat/Tartu

Tartu was a commercial centre of considerable importance during the later Middle Ages. It was a member of the Hanseatic League and the capital of the independent Bishopric of Dorpat, having been captured in 1224 by the German Sword Brethren, or Livonian Order. As in all of Estonia and Latvia, a largely German nobility had a great impact on culture, religion, architecture, education, and politics until the middle of the 20th century. For example, the town hall of Dorpat, as it was then called, was built by a Mecklenburger from the city of Rostock, while the main university building was built another German. Many, if not most, of the students and faculty were of German heritage, and numerous statues of notable scientists with German names can still be found in the city today.

Foundation of the University

In the 16th century, Livonia and Tartu both came under Polish rule, and a Jesuit grammar school was established in the city in 1583. In addition, a translators' seminary was organized in Tartu.

The activities of both the grammar school and the seminary were stopped by the Polish-Swedish War (1601). Tartu then became Swedish in 1629, which led to the foundation of the university in 1632 by King Gustav II Adolph of Sweden. With the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, the city became part of the Russian Empire, under whose control Tartu remained until 1918. Tartu then began to be known by the Russian name Derpt, and later, Yuryev. The university began to be Russified in 1895 with the introduction of compulsory Russian in teaching. This Russian imperial university was relocated to Voronezh in 1918, but the Estonian University of Tartu opened again in 1919.

Soviet Influence

During the Russian Civil War following World War I, a peace treaty between the Bolsheviks and Estonia was signed on 2 February 1920 in Tartu. The treaty meant that Bolshevist Russia renounced territorial claims to Estonia "for all time." However, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia and Tartu as a result of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939.

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 Emajgi were destroyed by the Soviet forces, partly in 1941 and almost totally in 1944. Being the seat of the Soviet Air Force's Russian Western Air Fleet, Tartu was a closed city during most of the Soviet years.


After the regaining of Estonian independence in the 1990s, Tartu has again evolved as a beautiful and intellectually-oriented cultural city with a strong university and an old town centre that is successively being renovated.

Education and Culture

The city is best known for being the home to the University of Tartu, founded by King Gustav II Adolph of Sweden in 1632. Mainly for this reason, Tartu was and is also - tongue-in-cheek - known as the "Athens of the Emajgi" or as the "Heidelberg of the North".

Tartu is also the seat of the Estonian Agricultural University, the Baltic Defence College, and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. The Estonian Supreme Court, which was reestablished in Tartu in the autumn of 1993, is likewise in the city, as well as the Estonian Historical Archives.

Architecture & Sightseeing

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, local politicians, etc. Most notable are the old Lutheran St. John's Church (Johanneskirche or Jaani Kirik), the town hall, the university building, the botanical gardens, the main shopping street, and many buildings around the town hall square.

In the suburbs, classic Soviet neighbourhoods were built between the Second World War and the Estonian indepence in 1990. Presently, Tartu is also known for several modern, rather sterile-looking buildings of the "steel, concrete and glass" type, but has managed to retain a mix of old buildings and new buildings in the historical centre of town.

Being the intellectual and cultural centre of Estonia, the Estonian Prime Minister often takes state guests to Tartu. Famous guests have included Charles, Prince of Wales, the presidents of Finland, Latvia, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, and Lithuania, as well as religious leaders like the Dalai Lama and the head of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, Patriarch Bartholomew I.

Tartu's large student population means that it has a comparatively thriving nightlife, with some bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Some of the more popular destinations for tourists include the Wilde Irish Pub (http://www.wilde.ee) and the Gunpowder Cellar (http://www.pyss.ee).

See also:

External links

da:Tartu de:Tartu et:Tartu eo:Tartu fr:Tartu la:Tarbatum nl:Tartu nds:Tartu ja:タルトゥ pl:Tartu ro:Tartu ru:Тарту fi:Tartto sv:Tartu tr:Tartu


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