Rising to the west of the town hall, Toomemägi (Cathedral Hill) is the original reason for Tartu’s existence, functioning on and off as a stronghold from around the 5th or 6th century. It’s now a tranquil park, with walking paths meandering through the trees and a pretty-as-a-picture rotunda which serves as a summertime cafe.
The approach from Town Hall Sq is along Lossi, which passes beneath the Angel’s Bridge (Inglisild), which was built between 1836 and 1838 – follow local superstition and hold your breath and make a wish as you cross it for the first time. A bit further up the hill is Devil’s Bridge (Kuradisild).
Hidden in parks, proudly displayed in squares and skulking in lanes, Tartu’s sculptures are often surprising and sometimes plain bizarre. Here are some to look out for:
- Everybody’s favourite The snogging students in front of the Town Hall.
- Most whimsical Oscar Wilde and Estonian writer Eduard Vilde, sharing both a surname and a park bench in front of Vallikraavi 4. Of course, they never actually met.
- Creepiest The man-sized naked baby holding hands with the baby-sized naked man on Küüni. It's actually a self-portrait of the artist with his son.
- Most clever The fountain at the corner of Vanemuise and Struve which at first glance looks like a tangle of steel tubes with water shooting out the back, but turns into a caricature of famed professor Yuri Lotman (1922–93) when viewed from certain angles.
- Most likely to put you off your chops The pig standing on a barrel outside the market, with one side already marked up by the butcher. This little piggy went to market; it didn't end well.
- Best 1970s flashback Women From The Countryside in front of the art gallery. The younger woman's flared jeans and obvious lack of a bra would date it to 1978, even if there wasn't a plaque to that effect.