John Pettitt holding the “Ryder Cup” 1985


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Town Hall Square


The square is the traditional heart of the Old Town and the meeting point of the main arteries. The Town Hall Square was not always as spacious as it is today. The Vaekoda stood in the NW corner; it was destroyed in 1944. among the cobblestones is a circular granite plate marking the site of a no longer extant well. Just before reaching the pedestrian passage Saiakang one may encounter part of a cross that marks the spot where a priest who killed a tavern servant was executed.

The square has had many functions over the centuries. It has served as the city's largest market. Townspeople have held their parties here, guests of honour have been given the keys to the city here-and the guilty have stood in a stockade which was also at one point located here. Even today, one can see an iron collar and wrist shackles with which petty criminals were pilloried-they hang by one of the arches of the town hall. Today, the square continues to be the site of public festivals and diversions. In June it is the focal point of the Old Town Days, during which the whole area comes alive with open-air concerts, theatre, wandering minstrels and vendors of all kinds. Open-air events are scheduled all summer long and sales of quality applied art proceed alongside traditional medieval fairs. Plan on crowded conditions at the square's cafes, which serve beer and other refreshments, and offer a scenic place to rest.


The historical town gaol is behind the Town Hall. It consists of a former gaol building (1370) and warden's house (1419). Extensive reconstruction took place in the buildings in 1441-1442. From 1979-1980 the buildings were given a similar look and converted into a museum.

In terms of interior and exterior architecture, the buildings retain a distinctively medieval appearance, and the walls of the dungeon in the cellar still hold the fixtures for torture devices. A permanent exhibition on each of the buildings’ two floors provides a survey of Estonian photographic history from 1840 1940. Many of the photographers were highly regarded both home and abroad; J.P.Parikas, N. Nylander and J.Mulber brought home several awards.

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