St Olav’s Church (Oleviste Kirik)
Once the tallest structure in the known world, the spire of St Olav’s (‘Oleviste’ in Estonian) is still an awesome sight, although it’s 20 metres smaller than the original steeple, which was struck by lightning in 1820. One of Tallinn’s most recognizable landmarks, St Olav’s may well be the first thing you see as you arrive by boat or by air, and it is visible along the coast for miles out of town.
Built in 1267, when the city was first emerging as a thriving merchant capital of the Baltic, St Olav’s sums up the confidence and wealth of the people’s town – a counterpoint to feudal Toompea Hill dominated by Estonia’s Teutonic overlords. The church is named after the then king of Norway, although it contains German inscriptions written in honour of Russian tsars – a perfect reflection of Tallinn’s multi-cultural past. Today it remains active as a Baptist church and also hosts concerts and musical events, especially around Christmas time.