John Pettitt holding the “Ryder Cup” 1985


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St. Olaf’s Church


Between Pikk and Lai and facing Lai stands the city's tallest church, St. Olaf's. This was a Scandinavian trading area in the 12th century, most likely with its own church. The predecessor was probably built in the 13th century; the church grew to its ultimate size and acquired its late-medieval look in the 15th century. In the 16th century the chapel was covered with a stellar vault and the tower got a Gothic spire, making it at 159 m briefly the world's tallest building.

Over the years, the church has been hit by lightning repeatedly and the current spire only reaches 123.7 m.

In the 16th century the Gothic-style Virgin Mary chapel was added; the cenotaph of church leader and chapel builder Hans Pawels stands at the exterior wall.

A symbolic tomb niche depicts a skeleton and the symbols of death and impermanence the snake and frog. On each side of the composition are the stations of the cross. The cenotaph text is partially extant: "What I have given away I have kept, what I have owned I have lost, no one can consider himself too high, because life passes like a puff of smoke. In memory of Hans Pawels 1513."

Heavily damaged by fire in 1820, St Olaf's was consecrated and reopened in 1840. The restoration used techniques typical for the period, the neo-Gothic interior design is that of Ludwig von Maydell, Johann Gottfried Exner and St. Petersburg sculptor Vassili Demut-Malinovsky. The main altar painting was by Wilhelm von Kugelgen.

St. Olaf Church is an operational Baptist congregation.

The tower platform provides an incomparable view of city and sea.

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