Tartu is the second largest city of Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

. In contrast to Estonia's political and financial capital Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

, Tartu is often considered the intellectual and cultural hub, especially since it is home to Estonia's oldest and most renowned university
University of Tartu
The University of Tartu is a classical university in the city of Tartu, Estonia. University of Tartu is the national university of Estonia; it is the biggest and highest-ranked university in Estonia...

. Situated 186 km southeast of Tallinn, the city is the centre of southern Estonia. The Emajõgi
The Emajõgi is a river in Estonia which flows from Lake Võrtsjärv through Tartu County into Lake Peipus, crossing the city of Tartu for 10 km. It has a length of 100 km...

 river, which connects the two largest lakes of Estonia, crosses Tartu. The city is served by Tartu Airport
Tartu Airport
Tartu Airport is south southwest of the city centre of Tartu in Estonia, near the Tartu–Võru highway. It is also called Ülenurme Airport due to its proximity to the village of Ülenurme....


Historical names of the town include Tarbatu, an Estonian fortress founded in the 5th century, Yuryev named c. 1030 by Yaroslav I the Wise
Yaroslav I the Wise
Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise (Old Norse: Jarizleifr; ; Old East Slavic and Russian: Ярослав Мудрый; Ukrainian: Ярослав Мудрий; c...

, and Dorpat as first known by the German crusaders
Livonian Crusade
The Livonian Crusade refers to the German and Danish conquest and colonization of medieval Livonia, the territory constituting modern Latvia and Estonia, during the Northern Crusades...

 in the 13th century.

Historical names

As Tartu has been under control of various rulers throughout its history, there are various names for the city in different languages. Most of them derive from the earliest attested form, the Estonian Tarbatu. In German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 and Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 the town has been and sometimes still is known as , a variant of Tarbatu. In Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, the city has been known as Юрьев (Yuryev) after Yaroslav I the Wise
Yaroslav I the Wise
Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise (Old Norse: Jarizleifr; ; Old East Slavic and Russian: Ярослав Мудрый; Ukrainian: Ярослав Мудрий; c...

 and Дерпт (Derpt), a variant of Dorpat (however, since 1917 the Estonian name Tartu is used). Similarly, the city has been known as Tērbata in Latvian
Latvian language
Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...



Archaeological evidence of the first permanent settlement on the site of modern Tartu dates to as early as the 5th century AD. By the 7th century, local inhabitants had built a wooden fortification on the east side of Toome Hill (Toomemägi).

The first documented record of the area was made in 1030 by chroniclers of Kievan Rus. Yaroslav I the Wise
Yaroslav I the Wise
Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise (Old Norse: Jarizleifr; ; Old East Slavic and Russian: Ярослав Мудрый; Ukrainian: Ярослав Мудрий; c...

, Prince of Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, raided Tartu that year, built his own fort there, and named it Yuryev (literally "Yury's" – Yury being Yaroslav's Christian name). Kievan rulers then collected tribute from the surrounding ancient Estonian county of Ugaunia
Ugandi was an independent country between the east coast of Lake Võrtsjärv and west coast of Lake Pskov, bordered by Vaiga, Mõhu, Nurmekund, Sakala, Tālava, and The Principality of Pskov. Ugandi had an area of approximately 3000 hides...

, possibly until 1061, when, according to chronicles, Yuryev was burned down by another tribe of Chud
Chud or Chude is a term historically applied in the early Russian annals to several Finnic peoples in the area of what is now Finland, Estonia and Northwestern Russia....

es (Sosols). Russians again held Tartu from 1133 to 1176/1177. In the 12th century it was the biggest Russian settlement in Chud territory.

Germans in Dorpat (Tartu)

During the period of Northern crusades
Northern Crusades
The Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades were crusades undertaken by the Christian kings of Denmark and Sweden, the German Livonian and Teutonic military orders, and their allies against the pagan peoples of Northern Europe around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea...

 in the beginning of the 13th century the fort of Tarbatu (or Tharbata, Tartu) was captured by the crusading Livonian Knights and recaptured by Estonians on several occasions. In 1224, after additional troops led by prince Vyachko
Vyachko of Koknese, also Vetseke of Kokenhusen was the ruler of the Principality of Koknese in present-day Latvia, a vassal of Polotsk, who tried to establish himself as a local ruler first in Latvia and then in Estonia, and fought against the expansionism of the Livonian Knights at the turn of...

 of Kukenois
Koknese is a historic town in Latvia, the administrative centre of Koknese municipality on the right bank of the Daugava River. It has a population of nearly 3,000.-History:...

 had been installed in the fort, it was besieged and conquered
Siege of Tartu (1224)
The siege of Tartu took place in 1224 and resulted in the fall of last major center of Estonian resistance in the mainland provinces to the Christian conquest of Estonia.- Background :...

 for one last time by the German crusaders. Subsequently known as Dorpat (Tarbatum), Tartu became a commercial centre of considerable importance during the later Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 and the capital of the semi-independent Bishopric of Dorpat
Bishopric of Dorpat
The Bishopric of Dorpat was a medieval principality and a catholic diocese which existed from 1224 to 1558, generally encompassing what are now Tartu, Põlva, Võru and Jõgeva counties in Estonia. The Bishopric was part of Livonian Confederation...


In 1262 the army of Prince Dmitri of Pereslavl, son of Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the city's history. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest and rose to legendary status on account of his military...

 launched an assault on Dorpat, capturing and destroying the town. His troops did not manage to capture the bishop's fortress on Toome Hill. The event was recorded both in German and Old East Slavic chronicles, which also provided the first record of a settlement of German merchants and artisans which had arisen alongside the bishop's fortress.

In the 1280s Dorpat joined the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

. In medieval times Tartu was an important trading city. As in all of Estonia and Latvia, the largely German-speaking nobility, but in Tartu/Dorpat (as in Tallinn) even more so, the Baltic German bourgeoisie, the literati, dominated culture, religion, architecture, education, and politics until the late 19th century. For example, the town hall of Dorpat was designed by an architect from Rostock
Rostock -Early history:In the 11th century Polabian Slavs founded a settlement at the Warnow river called Roztoc ; the name Rostock is derived from that designation. The Danish king Valdemar I set the town aflame in 1161.Afterwards the place was settled by German traders...

 in Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg is a historical region in northern Germany comprising the western and larger part of the federal-state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern...

, while the university buildings were designed by Johann Wilhelm Krause, another German. Many, if not most, of the students, and more than 90% of the faculty members were of German heritage, and numerous statues of notable scientists with German names can still be found in the city today. Most Germans left during the first half of the 20th century, in particular as part of the Heim ins Reich
Heim ins Reich
The Heim ins Reich initiative was a policy pursued by Adolf Hitler starting in 1938 and was one of the factors leading to World War II. The initiative attempted to convince people of German descent living outside of the German Reich that they should strive to bring these regions "home" into a...

 program of the Nazis in 1939.

Polish–Lithuanian and Swedish rule

During the Livonian War
Livonian War
The Livonian War was fought for control of Old Livonia in the territory of present-day Estonia and Latvia when the Tsardom of Russia faced a varying coalition of Denmark–Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland.During the period 1558–1578,...

 in the 16th century, southern parts of the Livonian Confederation
Livonian Confederation
Terra Mariana was the official name for Medieval Livonia or Old Livonia which was formed in the aftermath of the Livonian Crusade in the territories comprising present day Estonia and Latvia...

 and Tartu fell under rule of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

later the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth within the Dorpat Voivodeship
Dorpat Voivodeship
The Dorpat Voivodeship was a unit of administrative division and local government in the Duchy of Livonia, part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, from 1598 till the Swedish conquest of Livonia in the 1620s.The seat of the voivode was Dorpat...

 of the Duchy of Livonia. A Jesuit
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 grammar school
Grammar school
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...

 was established in 1583. In addition, a translators' seminary was organized in Tartu and the city received its red and white flag from the Polish king Stephen Bathory.

The activities of both the grammar school and the seminary were stopped by the Polish–Swedish War (1601). Tartu then became Swedish
Dominions of Sweden
The Dominions of Sweden or Svenska besittningar were territories that historically came under control of the Swedish Crown, but never became fully integrated with Sweden. This generally meant that they were ruled by Governors-General under the Swedish monarch, but within certain limits retained...

 in 1629, which led to the foundation of the university in 1632 by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustav II Adolf has been widely known in English by his Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus Magnus and variously in historical writings also as Gustavus, or Gustavus the Great, or Gustav Adolph the Great,...


Imperial Russia

With the Treaty of Nystad
Treaty of Nystad
The Treaty of Nystad was the last peace treaty of the Great Northern War. It was concluded between the Tsardom of Russia and Swedish Empire on 30 August / 10 September 1721 in the then Swedish town of Nystad , after Sweden had settled with the other parties in Stockholm and Frederiksborg.During...

 in 1721, the city became part of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and was known as Derpt. Due to fires in the 18th century which destroyed much of the medieval architecture, the city was rebuilt along Late Baroque
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 and Neoclassical
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 lines. During the second half of the 19th century, Tartu was the cultural center for Estonians in the era of Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs...

. The city hosted Estonia's first song festival in 1869, as well as the Vanemuine, the first national theatre, in 1870. It was also the setting for the foundation of the Society of Estonian Writers in 1872.

In 1893, the city was officially retitled to the ancient Russian name Yuryev. The university was subsequently russified
Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

 from 1895 on with the introduction of compulsory Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 in teaching. The Russian imperial university was relocated to Voronezh
Voronezh is a city in southwestern Russia, the administrative center of Voronezh Oblast. It is located on both sides of the Voronezh River, away from where it flows into the Don. It is an operating center of the Southeastern Railway , as well as the center of the Don Highway...

 in 1918, but the Estonian University of Tartu opened in 1919.

First independence period

With Estonian independence after World War I, the city officially became known by the Estonian
Estonian language
Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

 name Tartu.

At the end of Estonian War of Independence following World War I, a peace treaty between the Bolsheviks and Estonia was signed on 2 February 1920 in Tartu. The treaty meant that Bolshevist Russia
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

 renounced territorial claims to Estonia "for all time". However, as a result of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia and Tartu in 1940.

Soviet period

During World War II, a large part of the city as well as the historical Kivisild (Stone Bridge) (built by Catherine II of Russia
Catherine II of Russia
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great , Empress of Russia, was born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia on as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg...

 in 1776–1778) over the Emajõgi River were destroyed by the Red Army, partly in 1941 and almost completely in 1944. Already heavily damaged Tartu suffered bombings by Soviet forces on 27 January 1943, 26 February 1944, 7–8 March 1944, and 25–26 March 1944. After the war ended, much of the historical downtown area was left in ruins. Even the less damaged buildings in entire city blocks were torn down by the order of occupational authorities and large swaths of land turned into public parks.

After the war, Tartu was declared a "closed town" to foreigners, as an air base for bombers was constructed on Raadi Airfield
Raadi Airfield
Tartu Air Base is a former air base in Estonia located 4 km northeast of Tartu. It is a fairly extensive base with 24 large revetments and over 30 small ones. It was home to 132 TBAP which flew Tupolev Tu-16 and Tupolev Tu-22M aircraft...

, in the northeast outskirts of the city. The asphalt runway there now houses a large used cars market, and is sometimes used for automotive racing.

During Soviet times the population of Tartu almost doubled from 57,000 to 100,000, in large part due to mass immigration from other areas of the Soviet Union.

Modern era

Since Estonia regained its independence in 1991, the old town centre is being renovated. Notably, St. John's Church, in ruins since World War II, has been restored.


Tartu lies within the temperate humid continental climate
Humid continental climate
A humid continental climate is a climatic region typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold winters....

 zone. The climate is rather mild considering the high latitude, largely due to the proximity of the Baltic Sea and warm airflows from the Atlantic. Nevertheless, continental influence can be felt on hot summer days and cold spells in winter, when temperature can occasionally (but rarely) drop below -30 °C. Generally, summers are cool to warm and winters are cold, although very mild and rainy in recent years.


There are 49 members on the town council, elected by residents every four years using a proportional system of representation.

The executive branch of the town government consists of a mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 and five deputy mayors. The current mayor is Urmas Kruuse
Urmas Kruuse
Urmas Kruuse is an Estonian politician. Since 26 April 2007 he is the Mayor of Tartu. 2002–2007 he served as the Mayor of Elva.Kruuse is member of Estonian Reform Party.-References:...

. Andrus Ansip
Andrus Ansip
Andrus Ansip is the current Prime Minister of Estonia, and chairman of the market liberal Estonian Reform Party .-Early life and career:...

, the current Prime Minister of Estonia
Prime Minister of Estonia
The Prime Minister of Estonia is the head of government of the Republic of Estonia. The prime minister is nominated by the President after appropriate consultations with the parliamentary factions and confirmed by the Parliament. In case of disagreement, the Parliament can reject the President's...

, was mayor for many years. Both Ansip and Kruuse are members of the Estonian Reform Party
Estonian Reform Party
The Estonian Reform Party is a centre-right, free market liberal party in Estonia. It is led by Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, and has 33 members in the 101-member Riigikogu, making it the largest party in the legislature...

, which has dominated in Tartu in recent times.


According to Statistics Estonia
Statistics Estonia
Statistics Estonia is the Estonian government agency responsible for producing official statistics regarding Estonia. It is subordinated the Ministry of the Finance.The agency has approximately 400 employees. The office of the agency is located in Tallinn....

, Tartu's population comprised the following self-reported ethnic groups as of January 2010:
Nationality Number Percentage
Total 103,284 100%
Estonians are a Finnic people closely related to the Finns and inhabiting, primarily, the country of Estonia. They speak a Finnic language known as Estonian...

83,185 80.5%
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

15,966 15.5%
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

1,205 1.2%
Finns 1,072 1.0%
Belorussians 484 0.5%
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

142 0.1%
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

140 0.1%
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

125 0.1%
Latvians or Letts are the indigenous Baltic people of Latvia.-History:Latvians occasionally refer to themselves by the ancient name of Latvji, which may have originated from the word Latve which is a name of the river that presumably flowed through what is now eastern Latvia...

111 0.1%
Lithuanians are the Baltic ethnic group native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,765,600 people. Another million or more make up the Lithuanian diaspora, largely found in countries such as the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Russia, United Kingdom and Ireland. Their native language...

90 0.1%
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

85 0.1%
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

56 0.1%
Others 679 0.7%

Tartu's historic population is presented in the following table, based on data from official censuses since 1881 and Estonian Statistical Office:

Year Population
1881 29,974
1897 42,308
1922 50,342
1934 58,876
1959 74,263
1970 90,459
1979 104,381
1989 113,320
1995 104,874
2000 101,241
2005 101,483
2006 101,740
2007 101,965
2010 103,284


  • Annelinn
    Annelinn is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia, located on the left bank of Emajõgi River. It has a population of 27,788 , which makes 28,24% of the whole city. With an area of . it is also the largest. Annelinn mainly consists of 5 and 9-storey apartment buildings, the project was made between...

  • Ihaste
    Ihaste is the suburban neighbourhood of Tartu. It's located about 4 km southeast of the centre of the town, south of Annelinn, on the left bank of Emajõgi River. Ihaste has a population of 2,141 and an area of .-References:...

  • Jaamamõisa
    Jaamamõisa is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 3,112 and an area of .-References:...

  • Karlova
    Karlova, Tartu
    Karlova is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 8,982 and an area of .-References:...

  • Kesklinn
    Kesklinn, Tartu
    Kesklinn is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 6,557 and an area of .-References:...

  • Maarjamõisa
    Maarjamõisa is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 354 and an area of .-References:...

  • Raadi-Kruusamäe
    Raadi-Kruusamäe is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 4,750 and an area of .-References:...

  • Ropka
    Ropka is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 5,280 and an area of .-References:...

  • Ropka industrial district
  • Ränilinn
    Ränilinn is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 1,765 and an area of .-References:...

  • Supilinn
    Supilinn is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It's located just north of the city centre, on the right bank of Emajõgi River. Supilinn has a population of 1,843 . With an area of it's the smallest neighbourhood of Tartu...

  • Tammelinn
    Tammelinn is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 8,037 and an area of .-References:...

  • Tähtvere
    Tähtvere is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 3,094 and an area of .-References:...

  • Ülejõe
    Ülejõe, Tartu
    Ülejõe is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 7,598 and an area of .-References:...

  • Vaksali
    Vaksali is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 3,200 and an area of .-References:...

  • Variku
    Variku, Tartu
    Variku is a neighbourhood of Tartu, Estonia. It has a population of 1,842 and an area of .-References:...

  • Veeriku
    Veeriku is a neighbourhood of Tartu. It's located about 2 km west of the city centre, just behind the railway. Veeriku has a population of 5,529 and an area of ....


Mostly known as a university town, Tartu is also a site of heavy industry. In the beginning of the 21st century, many ICT
Information and communication technologies
Information and communications technology or information and communication technology, usually abbreviated as ICT, is often used as an extended synonym for information technology , but is usually a more general term that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of...

 enterprises and other high-tech companies have taken a foothold in Tartu. Notable examples include Playtech
Playtech Ltd. is a gaming software development company founded in 1999. The company provides software for online casinos, online poker rooms, online bingo games, online sports betting, scratch games, mobile gaming, live dealer games and fixed-odds arcade games online.-Playtech gaming software and...

 Estonia, Webmedia
Webmedia Group
Webmedia Group is one of the largest software development companies in the Baltic states, operating in European, Middle-Eastern and African markets...

, ZeroTurnaround
ZeroTurnaround OÜ is an IT software company based in Tartu, Estonia, which makes productivity tools for both Java EE development and production environments . In 2009, ZeroTurnaround received a Jolt Award for JRebel...

, Tarkon, Regio and Raintree Estonia. Skype
Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls and chat over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system...

 has an office in Tartu. The university is one of the largest employers, which explains the large proportion of highly skilled professionals – researchers, professors, doctors.

Education and culture

The city is best known for being home to the University of Tartu
University of Tartu
The University of Tartu is a classical university in the city of Tartu, Estonia. University of Tartu is the national university of Estonia; it is the biggest and highest-ranked university in Estonia...

, founded under King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden
Gustav II Adolf has been widely known in English by his Latinized name Gustavus Adolphus Magnus and variously in historical writings also as Gustavus, or Gustavus the Great, or Gustav Adolph the Great,...

 in 1632. Mainly for this reason, Tartu is also – tongue-in-cheek – known as "Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 of the Emajõgi" or as "Heidelberg of the North".

Tartu is also the seat of the Estonian University of Life Sciences
Estonian University of Life Sciences
The Estonian University of Life Sciences , located in Tartu, Estonia, is the former Estonian Agricultural University, which was established in 1951 and renamed and restructured in November 2005....

, the Baltic Defence College
Baltic Defence College
The Baltic Defence College is a multi-lateral co-operative military college which educates officers from not only the three Baltic States , but also from NATO and EU States and other European States as Ukraine, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Romania.The core activity of BALTDEFCOL is...

, Estonian Aviation Academy (formerly known as Tartu Aviation College), and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. Other notable institutions include the Supreme Court of Estonia
Supreme Court of Estonia
The Supreme Court of Estonia is the court of last resort in Estonia. It is both a court of cassation and a constitutional court. The courthouse is in Tartu.Chief justices=* Kaarel Parts * Rait Maruste...

 (re-established in Tartu in autumn 1993), the Estonian Historical Archives, Estonian National Museum
Estonian National Museum
The Estonian National Museum founded 1909 in Tartu is a museum devoted to folklorist Jakob Hurt's heritage, to Estonian ethnography and folk art...

 as well as the oldest and renowned theatre in the country, Vanemuine
Vanemuine, a literal translation from is a theatre in Tartu, Estonia. It is the first Estonian language theatre, founded as the Vanemuine Society on June 24, 1865 following the idea of Johann Voldemar Jannsen. In 1869 Vanemuine Society organised the first song festival in Estonia...



Tartu has been an intellectual centre of both Estonia and Baltic countries for several centuries. The great Tartu scholars include a pioneer of embryology Karl Ernst von Baer
Karl Ernst von Baer
Karl Ernst Ritter von Baer, Edler von Huthorn also known in Russia as Karl Maksimovich Baer was an Estonian naturalist, biologist, geologist, meteorologist, geographer, a founding father of embryology, explorer of European Russia and Scandinavia, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a...

, a pioneer of animal behaviour studies Jakob von Uexküll
Jakob von Uexküll
Jakob Johann von Uexküll was a Estonian biologist who worked in the fields of muscular physiology, animal behaviour studies, and the cybernetics of life. However, his most notable contribution is the notion of umwelt, used by semiotician Thomas Sebeok...

, and a cultural theorist and semiotician Juri Lotman. Tartu School is one of the leading scientific schools in the field of semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...


Main sights

The architecture and city planning of historical Tartu mainly go back to the pre-independence period, with Germans forming the upper and middle classes of society, and therefore contributing many architects, professors and local politicians.

Most notable are the old Lutheran St. John's
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

 Church , the 18th-century town hall, the university building, ruins of the 13th-century cathedral
Tartu Cathedral
Tartu Cathedral , earlier also known as Dorpat Cathedral is one of the landmarks of the Estonian city of Tartu . The building is now an imposing ruin overlooking the lower town...

, the botanical gardens, the main shopping street, many buildings around the town hall square and Barclay Square
Barclay Square
Barclay Square is a public square and park in the city of Tartu, Estonia, adjacent to the Ülikooli street. It is named after Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly and there is a large monument in the park honoring him....


The historical slum area called Supilinn (Soup Town) is located on the bank of river Emajõgi, near the town centre and is regarded as one of the few surviving "poor" neighbourhoods of 19th century Europe. At the moment Supilinn is being rapidly renovated, undergoing a slow transformation from the historic slum into a prestigious high-class neighborhood. The active community embodied by the Supilinn Society is committed to preserving the heritage.

The Second World War destroyed large parts of the city centre and during the Soviet occupation many new buildings were erected – notably the new Vanemuine Theater. The effects of the war are still witnessed by the relative abundance of parks and greenery in the historic centre. In the suburbs, classic Soviet neighbourhoods – blocks of high-rise flats – were built during the period between WW2 and restoration of Estonian independence in 1991.

Presently, Tartu is also known for several modern, rather sterile-looking buildings of the "steel, concrete and glass" variation, but has managed to retain a healty mix of old and new buildings in the centre of town.

Tartu's large student population means that it has a comparatively thriving nightlife, with many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Popular meeting place is, for example, the Gunpowder Cellar
Gunpowder Cellar of Tartu
The Gunpowder Cellar is a historic building in Tartu, Estonia which now functions as a beer restaurant .The name is derived from the restaurant's location: it is situated in an 18th century gunpowder cellar constructed in 1768–1778 by order of Catherine II of Russia on the site of an earlier...

 (Püssirohukelder) near the Tartu Cathedral.

Annually, in the summer, Tartu hosts the Hansa Days Festival to celebrate the Hanseatic heritage under the motto "History lives" when the old town bustles with activity from handicraft markets and historic workshops to a jousting tournament.


Tartu is the home for basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 club Tartu Ülikool/Rock
Tartu Ülikool/Rock
Tartu Ülikool is an Estonian professional basketball club, based in Tartu, currently participating in the Korvpalli Meistriliiga, the Baltic Basketball League and the EuroChallenge. The basketball team belongs to The University of Tartu and plays their home games at the Tartu Ülikooli Spordihoone ...

, which is participating in the Korvpalli Meistriliiga, the Baltic Basketball League
Baltic Basketball League
Baltic Basketball League is a Baltic states basketball league founded in 2004.Currently, the league is divided into two: the Elite division and the Challenge Cup division. The 10 strongest Baltic basketball clubs participate in the Elite division. The rest of the teams compete in the Challenge Cup...

 and the EuroChallenge
The EuroChallenge is the 3rd tier level transnational men's professional club basketball competition in Europe. It is organized and run by FIBA Europe...


Football club JK Tammeka Tartu
JK Tammeka Tartu
JK Tammeka Tartu is an Estonian football club based in Tartu.-History:In 2006 Tammeka merged with city rivals FC Merkuur to form JK Maag Tammeka Tartu. In 2009, however, Maag was dropped from the club's name after the company withdrew its sponsorship...

, one of the Meistriliiga
Meistriliiga is the highest division of the Estonian Football Association annual football championship. The league was founded in 1991 and the current, 2011 is the league's 21st season...

 clubs, is also located in Tartu.

Twin towns — Sister cities

Tartu is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

is a municipality in Akershus county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Sandvika. Bærum was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838. A suburb of Oslo, Bærum is located on the west coast of the city....

, Norway Deventer
Deventer is a municipality and city in the Salland region of the Dutch province of Overijssel. Deventer is largely situated on the east bank of the river IJssel, but also has a small part of its territory on the west bank. In 2005 the municipality of Bathmen Deventer is a municipality and city in...

, Netherlands Ferrara
Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north...

, Italy Frederiksberg, Denmark
Hafnarfjörður is a port town and municipality located on the south-west coast of Iceland, about 10 km south of Reykjavík....

, Iceland Hämeenlinna
Hämeenlinna is a city and municipality of about inhabitants in the heart of the historical province of Häme in the south of Finland and is the birthplace of composer Jean Sibelius. Today, it belongs to the region of Tavastia Proper, and until 2010 it was the residence city for the Governor of the...

, Finland Kaunas
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

, Lithuania Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

, Germany
Pskov is an ancient city and the administrative center of Pskov Oblast, Russia, located in the northwest of Russia about east from the Estonian border, on the Velikaya River. Population: -Early history:...

, Russia Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

, Latvia Salisbury
Salisbury, Maryland
-Demographics:Salisbury is the principal city of the Salisbury-Ocean Pines CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Salisbury metropolitan area and the Ocean Pines micropolitan area , which had a combined population of 176,657 at the 2010 census.As of the census of 2000, there were...

, United States Tampere
Tampere is a city in southern Finland. It is the most populous inland city in any of the Nordic countries. The city has a population of , growing to approximately 300,000 people in the conurbation and over 340,000 in the metropolitan area. Tampere is the third most-populous municipality in...

, Finland
Turku is a city situated on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River. It is located in the region of Finland Proper. It is believed that Turku came into existence during the end of the 13th century which makes it the oldest city in Finland...

, Finland Uppsala
- Economy :Today Uppsala is well established in medical research and recognized for its leading position in biotechnology.*Abbott Medical Optics *GE Healthcare*Pfizer *Phadia, an offshoot of Pharmacia*Fresenius*Q-Med...

, Sweden Veszprém
Veszprém is one of the oldest urban areas in Hungary, and a city with county rights. It lies approximately north of the Lake Balaton. It is the administrative center of the county of the same name.-Location:...

, Hungary Zutphen, Netherlands

External links

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