Countries are represented through their embassies and consulates, the former responsible for promoting the interests of the home country, handling diplomatic relations and supporting its citizens. Embassies are located in the capital city where consular functions also occur. Consulates may also exist in other cities. Consulates (and their chief diplomat, the consul) handle minor diplomatic issues such as issuing visas, aiding in trade relationships, and taking care of migrants, tourists, and expatriates. Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, the premises of an Embassy are inviolable and “immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution,” but sovereignty of the embassy premises rests with the host country. Therefore whilst the embassy enjoys immunity it is not foreign soil as some think. Depending on the location and the home country the embassy buildings often can be grand and impressive. Some modern ones showcase the nation in a visual way.
In Tallinn many of the Embassies were located within the old town in grand old buildings, Sweden and Russia for example. The Italian Embassy was less grand being above a shop whereas the Honorary Consul for Mexico looked little more than a small residence. With the exception of the UK and US Embassies I took photos of those I across, apologies if I missed your country!
United Kingdom Embassy
The United Kingdom Embassy was heavily fortified behind high fences, video surveillance and security. When requesting permission to enter to photograph the building the Security guard suggested it was “strongly inadvisable”. So much for showcasing our presence.
United States Embassy
Whilst less fortified than the UK one, the road was secured and after taking a photograph I was questioned by a G4S security guard who enquired about what I was doing. He came out after seeing me take a photo of the building. “I am instructed to ask you to delete the photo, however you are under no obligation to do so”.