Today in Tallinn……what are we up to? I thought we would start in the Old Town and work our way into the Town Square to see how the architecture changes. Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is something good that came from the Soviet rule for almost 50 years. The buildings were left as they were, little if any updating took place. This is Saint Olav’s Church……..to read some interesting folklore about this church look HERE.
I am not sure what this niche represents, but I thought it must be important because even though the building has been repaired several times this part of the facade has been left intact.
The church is undergoing some maintenance now…………
Looking up, I noticed many of the buildings had some kind of spire, steeple or weathervane on them. One, of the most interesting was a weathervane called “Old Thomas,” who was put on the top of City Hall in 1530. I didn’t get a good photo of him, he came out very blurry, but he is a landmark in Tallinn. Legend has it that as a young boy Thomas excelled at a Springtime cross bow event that included firing crossbow bolts at a painted wooden parrot that sat on a pole. Because he was low-born and not part of the German elite of the time, he could not receive any prizes. But, when he got older they made him a member of the town guard for life. As he went about town he always handed out candy to the children and was very popular with them. When he died the children kept asking for him and the parents decided to tell them that Thomas was the newly installed weathervane and was still protecting the city and watching over the children to see if they were good. If they were good Thomas would leave them candy under their pillows.
Here are some of the other architectural pieces to be found on the tops, be sure to look for them in all the photos!
I even got the bird in this photo!
One of the experiences we had in Tallinn was going to the City Theatre in Old Town. The theatre house is unique because it is part of 16 interconnected medieval merchant houses. The shop or storeroom would have been on the bottom floor and the family would have lived upstairs. The buildings were German in style and very long and narrow. The City Theatre is the tall yellow building………
Let’s go inside!
This is a very popular theatre now, but the interior gives us a glimpse into how the merchant’s house would have been……. There were fat squat storage room doors in very thick walls. And very deep stairs!
This looks like it could have been a safe of some kind………….let’s look closer at the top……
Was this to collect coins or bills to enter the theatre? I think so……
Here is some of the design work in the theatre. The old is mixed with the new to show both the theatre, which it is now and the old merchants house…… This is the coatrack for the theatre and a look at the rocks that the white-wash for the interior was made from……
There are old painted designs on the timbered ceiling……..
Another church, this one The Church of the Holy Spirit, can be found nearer to the town square. Records reveal the church was here in 1319, however it is suggested that the site was already built up when the church was started, because there was not enough room to have the church face the east. It sat at odds with the lot. There was also a large alms house, at one time, next to the church. Originally, a Roman Catholic Church, it was the first church to hold services in the Estonian language. Today, it is an Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The outside of Church of the Holy Spirit has a plain, white-washed exterior with crow stepped gables, an octagonal tower and a Renaissance spire……..
Christian Ackermann, one of the greatest masters of the Baroque style in Estonia, was a carver and sculptor, who set up a workshop in Tallinn from 1675 until his death in 1712 from the plague. He designed the clock on the church.
Here is another view of the Church of the Holy Spirit taken from the front of the Little Red House Full of Bright Ideas!
Close to The Church of the Holy Spirit was this fine example of architecture……I especially liked the windows, the balcony and the streetlight! And, of course the shape of the building too!
The next set of buildings told a story too…….
My, isn’t this one elaborate? Story has it that an elderly gentlemen lived in this building and spent his day just staring across the street at a woman in the opposite building. The woman was quite uncomfortable with the situation and politely told him to quit hawking her, but he said he didn’t realize that he did this.
Here is her building…………quite fancy too…….she added the mean looking faces and the gargoyles and………
look closely now………
and this head to remind the man NOT to look out the window at her! This building is very close to the Russian Embassy, could it also suggest the the Russians are still always watching and listening to them? Hmmmmmm……
I think this building could have been used as a hospital….I like the sign, All that Goes Right, Goes Right!
Maiasmokk, is the oldest café still operational in Estonia today. The coffee house goes back to 1806 when sugar baker, Lorenz Cavietzel, bought the land for a bakery. In 1864, the building and business was bought and re-developed by Baltic German, George Stude, who opened the café/coffee house, which became re-known for it’s marzipan production. Patrons buying the marzipan included the Russian Imperial Family. During the Soviet occupation of Estonia, the café was nationalized, and allowed to remain open. In 1997, the café was bought by a new owner, when Estonia gained it’s independence from the Soviet Union. More to come on this historic coffee shop in another post!
We have a lot more to discover in Tallinn, so we better get a move on…..which way should we go?
Another post or two coming from Estonia! Stay tuned!