Town Hall and Town Hall Square
Back in the 16th century when Tallinn was still tiny (only 5,000 people) it was ethnic Germans who ruled the city – not just up on the hill where the feudal lords held sway but also in the Old Town where Germanic merchant guilds directed government and every aspect of the city’s life from the Town Hall.
Today this Gothic wonder still looms over the main square exactly as it must have done 600 years earlier; only the iconic weathervane ‘Old Thomas’ – Tallinn’s soldier mascot complete with large codpiece – needing replacement after war damage.
Inside the Hall, look for the opulent woodcarvings and coats of arms, speaking of centuries of Venetian-style merchant rule – from the heavy money chests to the comic carvings of Socrates being beaten by his wife. The square itself has been the centre of Tallinn’s social and political life for centuries – festivals, weddings and executions have all taken place here, and possibly the earliest recorded public Christmas tree was erected in 1441. Across the square from the Town Hall, now surrounded by cafés and restaurants, find Europe’s oldest pharmacy, which opened in 1422.