Tartu – living in the heart of Estonian spiritual life

There’s room for everyone in the university city Tartu: families with children, students, researchers, art and theatre lovers. You’ll never have to complain about boredom in this city with a diverse cultural life, as you’re always within a short walking distance from one of Tartu’s many theatres, cinemas, museums and locales. Or why not join a local choir or sports club? There’s plenty of choice!

University town Tartu is the second most populous city in Estonia, home to almost 100,000 people.

Even today, some people still recall the saying of almost a hundred years ago that if Tallinn is the capital, then Tartu is the head for the cap! And there’s a grain of truth in this, because historically Tartu has always been the centre of Estonian spiritual life: it was Tartu that started the tradition of song festivals in the mid-19th century and the beginnings of the establishment of both the Estonian state and Estonian theatre life were also here.

Anyone who has ever visited Tartu will already be familiar with the fountain of the kissing students, taken a picture in Town Hall Square and walked on Toomemägi. The more adventurous may even have found the time to take a boat trip on the Emajõgi River, enjoy the vibrant nightlife of the downtown bars and eat creamy, rich cakes at one of Estonia’s oldest cafés, Werner. But that’s just a little piece of Tartu, as the historic city centre is surrounded by a number of distinct neighbourhoods – each with its own character.

This diversity is largely shaped by the Emajõgi River, which divides the city in two. On the right bank of the river are the bohemian Supilinn, the family-friendly Karlova with the Ropka industrial area, and on the slopes of the hills are Tähtvere, Vaksali, Ropka and further on, the districts behind the railway built outside the city in the 19th century, such as Veeriku, Maarjamõisa, Tammelinn, Ränilinn and Variku. Ülejõe, Annelinn and Ihaste as well as Raadi-Kruusamäe and Jaamamõisa on the valley slopes are on the left bank of the river. Whether your dream is to live in a modern new development, an idyllic riverside apartment or in stately solitude, there’s something for everyone in Tartu: families with children, students, researchers, art and theatre lovers.

Someone called the Spirit of Tartu has settled here, on the banks of the Emajõgi River. Although its exact whereabouts are unknown, its presence can be felt throughout Tartu. It’s a way of life and mindset that characterises the people of Tartu – it’s both calm and romantic, yet close-knit and vibrant. But what’s the point in going on at length – if you happen to stay in Tartu for a little longer, you’ll understand it yourself!

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