New walking trail and audio guide offer glimpse into Tallinn's musical history

DJ Priidik.
DJ Priidik. Source: Aivar Tõnso

A new walking trail and accompanying audio guide has been produced under the aegis of Tallinn's status as a UNESCO City of Music. "Cellars of Old Town" provides an overview of entertainment and concert venues that have existed or are still operating in the cellars of the Estonian capital over the decades, as well as some of the music performed there.

According to Tallinn Deputy Mayor Kaarel Oja (SDE), in addition to a rich music life, Tallinn also has a very rich history related to music. "These stories are exciting and important, and we have decided to start telling them one by one. We have several ideas for the next ones, and if the format we propose is well received, we will certainly continue with them," Oja said.

The "Cellars of Old Town" music trail is a thematic walking tour with an audio guide that opens up Tallinn's diverse and rich musical past and present.

The texts for the guide were written by Aivar Tõnso and Brigitta Davidjants and narrated by Juhan Ulfsak. Listeners can hear stories about such legendary places as the KuKu Club, Eeslitall, and the Kodulinna Maja. It also introduces newer venues like Clazz, Philly Joe's, and Winkel. The trail includes 15 different locations in total.

Davidjants, a researcher at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theater, believes that the tour offers an excellent opportunity to learn about an alternative history of music in Estonia.

"The history of pop culture is very often associated with oral storytelling; it is not usually documented in a classical sense. And the tour provided an opportunity to record this history, which is often a bit hidden. It talks about the connections between music and urban space, as well as about the fans, who are often considered oddballs, but without whom there would be no bands."

The 1990s were undoubtedly a challenging time in Estonia, but at the same time, it was a decade that saw the opening of borders and the opportunity to experiment with musical boundaries. Many small subcultures blossomed alongside the triumph of disco music, each seeking their place in the liberated musical landscape. It was the Old Town cellars that provided a space for this new music, and it is from there that the "Cellars of Old Town" music trail draws inspiration.

The audio guide is free and can be listened to in both Estonian and English via the music trails website here.

Tallinn has been a UNESCO City of Music since 2022. The city's application was accompanied by the creation of Tallinn Music Strategy 2022-2025, which offers new opportunities for creating and enjoying music.

The main focus of the strategy is to support the development and growth of the music industry in the Estonian capital.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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