Photo
Tiit Veermäe
Before After

Russian Street Wall Walkway

I am one of the oldest and most dignified streets, an artery of the city, which connected the harbour to the market from the very earliest days of the city.

The road led past the large St. Catherine’s Monastery and other monastery buildings, the plaza of the Russian mer- chants and the Russian Church. At first, I was named for the monks – platea monachorum, monnekestrasse. But they left during the Reformation about 500 years ago. The despoiled and burned Dominican monastery’s former root cellar was con- verted into an arsenal (rüsthaus). Thereafter I was thus known by the colloquial Rüststrasse, but at the same time, the name Russ-Strasse or Russian Street came into use. The long-lost monks were still remembered in the 19th century when I was still called Mönchenstrasse.

In 1872, the governor demanded that the street signs should be in all three local languages, and so the German Rüststrasse, though later Russ-Strasse, and in Russian Nikolskaja uulits, after the saint for whom the local Russian Orthodox church is named, Nikolai the miracle-worker. In Estonian, I have, of course, been called Vene (Russian) Street.

Toward the end of the street, starting from the Russian church, I run along a medieval defence wall. Near the very end, the wall was, at length, “cleaned out”, which is to say, the buildings against the wall were demolished in order to present the beauty of the medieval gothic theme-park-like limestone wall with its arched niches. I’m especially lovely in the evening, after the workday, when the traders have packed up all their sweaters and mittens and other brick-a- brack and gone home.