Monumental Tartu

09 Jun 2016

Considering how absolutely ancient Tartu is and the sheer number of luminaries that have passed through the halls of its prestigious university, it's no shocker that the city comes packed with all sorts of monuments and sculptures. The Kissing Students fountain on Town Hall Square and the Vilde bench make appearances on nearly every tourist brochure, and of course Toome Hill is crawling with noted professors in bronze. In this article though, we're focusing on some of Tartu's lesser known and less conventional tributes to the past.

Monument of Nations
Our list starts with Tartu's oldest monument by far. Installed in 1811, the Monument of Nations is a squarish, brick structure in a park near the corners of K.E. Von Baeri and Vallikraavi streets marking the reburial place of some human bones – presumably belonging to people of many nationalities. These unlucky souls were dug up during construction of the Tartu University Main Building on a spot that had been a medieval-era church cemetery. J.W. Krause, designer of that building, also designed this four sided monument. The inscriptions tell the story of the bones in Latin, German, Russian and Estonian. This monument scores extra hipster points because the 'Estonian' text is in fact written in the now-obscure Tartu dialect of Southern Estonian, a dialect spoken by about 4,000 people today.


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