Tallinn, Estonia

St. Olav's Church, Tallinn, Estonia

St. Olav’s (or sometimes Olaf’s) Church is the tallest church in Estonia, currently standing to around 123.7 metres in height.

It dates to the 12th Century and was thought to have been built by Tallinn’s Scandinavian community in the days before the Danish invasion in 1219. It is dedicated to Saint Olaf, who was Olaf II of Norway) and is first recorded in 1267.

The church was originally Roman Catholic but became Lutheran in the 1520s, shortly after this time the church tower was built to around 125 metres in height. Since then it has been struck by lightning around ten times and the whole church has been burnt down around three times. Undaunted the tower still stands to 123 and a bit metres in height but presumably now has an effective lightning conductor installed!

During the Soviet occupation of Estonia the spire of the church was used by the KGB as a radio tower and surveillance point. In 1950 the Lutheran Church decided that St. Olav’s was surplus to requirements and it became a Baptist church instead, which it remains today.

The tall tower dominates views of Tallinn from Toompea Hill and it is one of Tallinn’s most recognisable landmarks.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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