St Olaf's Church

Old Town

From 1549 until 1625, when its 159m steeple was struck by lightning and burnt down, this (now Baptist) church was one of the tallest buildings in the world. The current spire reaches a still-respectable 124m and you can take a tight, confined, 258-step staircase up the tower (adult/child €3/1) for wonderful views of Toompea and over the lower town’s rooftops. Major renovations began in mid-2019, closing the interior to tourists; check before visiting.

The church itself has been around since at least the 13th century, although it’s been substantially added to over the years. The interior is typically stark, although a small section of stone carvings on the rear exterior wall escaped the Reformation’s iconoclasts.

Dedicated to the 11th-century King Olaf II of Norway, the church is linked in local lore with another Olaf, its architect, who ignored the prophecies of doom to befall the one who completed the church’s construction. Accordingly, Olaf the architect fell to his death from the tower, and it’s said that a toad and a snake then crawled out of his mouth.

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