I have been to many of “the oldest” places during my travels- the oldest in the city, the oldest in a country or the oldest in world. You can simply call it a fond fascination for places that are the original, the first or the oldest. So when I was in Tallinn, Estonia and came across Raeapteek, which is considered the oldest Pharmacy in Europe, I was elated. This was another “oldest” location that I could add as a notch in my jetsetter travel belt.
If you are wandering the market square without a guide or knowledge of Old Town, you just might miss the pharmacy. The old carved doors that lead inside are unassuming but beautiful none the less. The Raeapteek or Town Hall Pharmacy is located at house number 11, in the busy market square of Old Town Tallinn just opposite the Town Hall.
Raeapteek is considered the oldest pharmacy in Europe, as well as the oldest medical establishment and commercial business in Tallinn. The pharmacy dates back to 1422 and is housed in its original location.
When you walk into the Raeapteek, the current pharmacy with its old world charm is beautiful. The cabinets are in a dark rich wood, the ceiling planks aged and the energy of the room feels centuries old. You can still purchase modern pharmaceuticals here, as it truly is the longest running pharmacy.
There is a fascinating museum adjacent to the pharmacy where there are displays of medieval healing methods, historical chemist tools, medical instruments and oddities. I found the healing remedies using snakes and other critters extremely interesting. Plus I loved all the old medicine bottles and tins that held popular items to heal what ails you.
When the wall of communism fell, Raeapteek was fully renovated. The renovation went for about a decade, from the early 90s until 2003. The entire building needed major attention and had been deteriorating and neglected for close to 50 years, about the time of WWII.
Town Hall Pharmacy is a magnificent piece to Europe’s history, as well as a great example of the evolution of modern medicine practices. It is well worth the visit when exploring Old Town Tallinn, just even to say that you have been into the oldest pharmacy in Europe!
Raeapteek Store Hours:
Monday–Saturday: 10:00 – 18:00
I haven’t been everywhere, but its on my list…
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre