Silver Tambur and Sten Hankewitz

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. Sten Hankewitz is the Deputy Editor of Estonian World.

Kalamaja district in the Estonian capital is one of the “hippest” in Europe

According to TravelSupermarket, a UK-based price comparison website, the district of Kalamaja in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, is the ninth “hippest” neighbourhood in Europe.

The website created the index by looking at the ratio of trendsetting and creative industry indicators, such as independent coffee shops, vintage fashion stores, record shops, vegan cafes, independent bike shops, co-working spaces and art galleries or studios to the number of residents. Areas lost points based on the number of big chain brands on their streets which “suggests the address has reached peak hipster”.

Kalamaja

The hippest neighbourhood in Europe is Kreuzberg in Berlin, the capital of Germany. Miera Street in Riga, Latvia, came second, and Ancoats in Manchester, the UK, came third.

Hippest neighbourhoods

Kalamaja scored the maximum points – 10 – in the “hip culture outpost score” and the “creative capital score”; the “travellers’ value score” was 4. Altogether Kalamaja scored 24 points in the “hip hangout final score”.

From a fishing village to “hipsterville”

Historically, Kalamaja (Estonian for Fish House) accommodated fishermen’s villages, but when Tallinn was connected to Saint Petersburg by rail in 1870 and the nearby central railway station (Baltic Station) was built, the area changed immensely. The industrial revolution and factories needed workers, so extensive apartment buildings were erected in the end of the 19th century. Much of the housing stock was built between 1890 and 1940, mostly apartment buildings in timber and brick.

Kalamaja - Wikipedia Commons

During the Soviet occupation, Kalamaja was seen as a somewhat run-down, undesirable address – the communist utopia favoured large apartment blocks in the new districts, such as Mustamäe, instead – but during the last decade, the area became ultra-trendy and is now locally known as “hipsterville” of Tallinn.

Kalamaja - Tony Bowden, Wikimedia Commons

Home for about 10,000 people, the neighbourhood is located just a stone’s throw from the historical town centre, on the coast of the Tallinn Bay, while also having an excellent tram connection. The Telliskivi Creative City – the former industrial complex that has been turned into the creative centre of Estonia where artists, music promoters and community activists mingle with the startup community – is also next door.

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Cover: Cafe “Tops” in Kalamaja.

NATO approves the deployment of four battalions to the Baltics and Poland

The NATO summit held in Warsaw, Poland, officially approved the deployment of four multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to help deter any potential Russian threat to the region.

According to the alliance’s plan, the United Kingdom is to send security enforcement to Estonia, the United States to Poland, Germany to Lithuania and Canada to Latvia. NATO’s four multinational combat battalions are intended to reassurance the region against the threat of Russian encroachment. 

Even though the United Kingdom decided in a referendum to leave the European Union, the country’s outgoing prime minister, David Cameron, said the UK would remain at the heart of NATO. In an attempt to counter fears that Brexit will diminish the UK’s standing on the world stage, Cameron said the country would continue to play an “essential” role in the alliance.

The UK will send 500 troops to Estonia to provide reassurance and to react immediately to any crisis or incident. The UK is also to take over the leadership of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task (VJTF) from 2017, with 3,000 troops in the UK and Germany on standby to move with as little as five days’ notice. “These deployments show Britain taking a leading role in NATO, protecting the security of our Baltic allies. We can do this because we are increasing defence spending every year for the rest of the decade,” the UK’s defence secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement.

Up to 200 Danish soldiers will also join a British-led coalition in Estonia.

“This is a breakthrough that unambiguously demonstrates NATO’s solidarity and the fact that Estonia is better protected today than ever before,” Estonian prime minister Taavi Rõivas said after the meeting of the North Atlantic Council. “Approximately 1,000 troops from different NATO member states being stationed in Estonia will become a new normality. This is a direct confirmation of the alliance’s defence and deterrence posture – a signal that an attack on one is an attack on all and it’s not worth picking a fight with us.”

The Wall Street Journal reported in June that the four battalions were to be a force of about 4,000 troops. The US deputy secretary of defence, Robert Work, said at the time that the buildup was a response to more Russian activity around the Baltics – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – where tensions have been rising.

The defence ministers of NATO countries approved the deployment in February.

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Cover image: Two Rifles training and exchanging tactics with US troops and the 2nd Mountain Brigade of the Romanian forces (courtesy of British Army)

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