Tallinn’s Raeapteek: One of the oldest pharmacies in Europe turns 597!

Tallinn Town Hall Pharmacy celebrates its 597th birthday

Town Hall Pharmacy opened in 1422. This curious little shop on Town Hall Square is, in fact, the oldest continuously running pharmacy in Europe.

Want to hear about the health and medicine in medieval Tallinn and try claret, book your tour with us here: Health and Medicine in Medieval Tallinn Private Excursion.

Ten generations of the same family, the Burcharts, operated it from 1581 to 1911. It was so famous in its day that the Russian czar used to order medicines from the pharmacy. Remedies sold at the pharmacy during medieval days included snakeskin potion, mummy juice and powdered unicorn horn (for male potency). But this was also a place to buy everyday items like jam, tea, claret, gunpowder and, most importantly, marzipan. Marzipan was one of the pharmacy’s best sellers, one that local legend insists was actually invented as a curative here in the 15th century. Marzipan was also known to cure broken hearts. Brave ones can try it out even today as the historic site still operates as a pharmacy, selling modern products. Its side room houses an interesting display of 17th- to 20th-century medicinal bric-a-brac. Everyone can step in for free to see the exhibition and admire a medieval house from inside.

The pharmacy (the Estonian name, Raeapteek, literally means “municipal pharmacy”) has been continuously operating in the same premises in Tallinn Old Town since 1422 – it was first mentioned on 8 April that year. In a town council’s notebook, there is an entry by a chemist named Nuclawes who stated that the owners of the pharmacy are ten honorable men, the majority of whom are aldermen.

For over 300 years, from 1582-1911, spanning ten generations, the business was a run by the Burchart family. The association started when a Hungarian immigrant, Johann Burchart Both Belavary de Sykava, moved to Tallinn from the present-day Bratislava and obtained a lease from the town council to run the pharmacy.

The Burcharts were well educated and often were not only pharmacists but also doctors, hence playing a significant role in the city life. Their fame became so great that in 1725, the Russian czar, Peter the Great, reportedly called for Johann Burchart V to attend to him on his deathbed – however, the czar died before Burchart reached St Petersburg.

Due to the pharmacy’s location just on the opposite of the Town Hall, some important decisions were also taken here.

Food was also on display – such as candies, cookies, preserves, marzipan and jellied peel. When tobacco was brought to Europe and eventually to Estonia, the pharmacy was the first to sell it. One could even find a glass of Klaret – a locally sugared and spiced Rhine wine.

Wolf guts and burnt hedgehogs
Today, Raeapteek also has a museum where the visitors can see the necessary tools of the pharmacist, as well as examine some strange ingredients that were used for making drugs hundreds of years ago: prepared wolf guts, rabbit ears, earthworms in oil, burnt bees, viper fat, dried toads, swallow nests, dog feces, billy goat blood, spirit with rough woodlouse, frogspawn band aids, stallion hooves, burnt hedgehogs and fresh chicken egg shells.

In the basement of the pharmacy is a historical warehouse, where interesting workshops are organised for both school kids and adults. There is a possibility to mix together different infusions, try making marzipan and do other interesting things.

Apart from being the oldest still-active pharmacy in Europe that has been continuously operating in the same premises, Raeapteek is also the oldest company in Estonia that has worked continuously in the same premises.

Tallinn Blog- ” It´s Like Scandinavia, But Cheaper and More Fun”

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Hear ye-hear ye! Tallinn is Lonely Planet’s best value destination for 2018

This is fantastic news! #justESTonishing

Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world, has ranked the best value destinations for 2018 – and the Estonian capital, TALLINN, IS NUMBER ONE!


The travel guide ranked the top ten destinations to “tempt frugal travelers”. “Estonia’s capital is compact, fashionable and terrific value. Explore one of Eastern Europe’s loveliest old towns on foot for free, stay in good-value dorms, guesthouses or private homes, and take in Baltic Sea views and a superb panorama of the city from the flat roof of the vast Linnahall (one of Tallinn’s best free things to do),“ Lonely Planet said.

“Connected by budget flights from around Europe, the city isn’t a secret – but if you want a taste of Tallinn to yourself then head to Kalamaja, a fast-changing neighbourhood home to Telliskivi Creative City. The food trucks here offer Instagrammable fill-ups that won’t tax your wallet,” the travel guide added.

In 2018, Estonia will also celebrate the anniversary of 100 Years of Republic of Estonia with an extensive program of cultural, pop and all-around fantastic events not to miss when in town, read more here: https://www.ev100.ee/en

Best in Travel 2018 – Top 10 Best Value (Lonely Planet)

1. Tallinn, Estonia
2. Lanzarote, Canary Islands
3. Arizona, US
4. La Paz, Bolivia
5. Poland
6. Essaouira, Morocco
7. United Kingdom
8. Baja California, Mexico
9. Jacksonville, Florida, US
10. Hunan, China

In 2016, Tallinn hosted 2.5 million foreign visitors who stayed at least a day in the city. It remains to be seen whether an endorsement by the Lonely Planet will drive this number up in 2018.


Book your private Tallinn tour here!


Estonia is Europe’s Most Underrated Country by New York Post

After all, no one knew anything about the European country — which is three times smaller than New York state — so it was a plausible home for the mysterious exchange student.

Larger than both Denmark and Holland, but with a population of just 1.3 million, it’s easy to take advantage of both city and country — especially since about 50 percent of the country is uninhabited forest. Twenty-five years after the film’s release, Estonia still seems off the beaten path. (Even though the now ubiquitous phone-imitating app Skype was founded in Estonia, and most locals won’t let you forget it!) But it’s well worth a visit.

Less obvious to visitors is the country’s continued tech savvy: Residents use a coded government identification card to pay bills and taxes — and even cast all votes in elections — from home.

Flights from New York to Estonia start at about $800 round-trip on Finnair via Helsinki this winter. Here are the Baltic nation’s four major cities worth exploring, especially for first-timers.


The fairy-tale capital of Estonia is the best-preserved medieval city in northern Europe, with winding cobblestone streets and incredible architecture. Once was home to wealthy merchants from neighboring countries, Tallinn’s historic center — called the Old Town — is now filled with restaurants, bars, museums and galleries, with a healthy mix of locals and visitors.

Though keen observers will notice a wide array of handsome historic churches — practically one on every other corner — only about a quarter of the population is affiliated with any religion, making Estonia one of the least religious countries in the world. (Don’t let that stop you from enjoying Tallinn’s multitude of gorgeous Gothic spires.)

Read the full article here: A guide to Europe’s most underrated country


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