Photo
Tiit Veermäe
Before After

Fat Margaret and The Great Coastal Gate

I am the most famous landmark among the towers of our city. Those coming in by sea can’t miss me.

I may not be as tall as some other towers or churches, but I make up for it with my size and width. Without a doubt, I am the widest and thickest walled tower in the city.

Throughout history, I have had many names. First, 500 years ago when I was finished, I was called the round tower, then the Rose Garden’s New Tower. The Rose Garden was
a public garden where the people who had exited the city gate down Pikk Street would have picnics and watch the activity at the harbour. At the end of the 17th century, the name Rosenkrantz was handed down to me from the heavy cannon tower at the Toompea wall gate when it was buried in the earthworks at the Swedish bastion and didn’t need its name anymore. It’s thought that I was first christened Fat Margaret by bored Russian sailors rocking back and forth in their ships on raids in the second half of the 19th century. I’m also called “Mamma With Her Son”, referring to the small tower on the other side of the Great Coastal Gate. Although, he is actually older than me!

I’m connected to the foregate of the Great Coastal Gate by a passage that runs through the third storey. The gate used to have a portcullis, which was preserved for a long time – until the fire of 1917. According to legend, I am the beloved of Tall Hermann. For some reason, people think that I’m a female! But in seriousness, I am the city’s mightiest heavy cannon tower, and a place of awesome firepower. My defensive complex boasts gun loops for 32 cannons and 124 firearms. I am 25 meters in diameter. The strongest part of the wall is the base at 5.1 metres thick, although the thickness of the foundation is up to 6 metres. But just between us, on the city side, on the southern end, the wall is only just over a metre thick. The diameter of the room on the first floor is 12.5 me- tres and over 110 square metres.

I was built with the new foregate of the Great Coastal gate and the zwinger, or flank defence wall reached to Stolting Tower. The stonecutter Gert Koningk was the construction master of the intricate defensive complex and the creator of the coat of arms on the gate.

450 years ago, in the month of June, a united fleet from Denmark and Lubeck brought war to the harbour of Tallinn with 30 warships under the command of Admiral Munck. The Danes burned or seized all 150 ships that were in the harbour, on the grounds that Sweden and Reval had been trying to inhibit the trade between Moscow and Denmark. The ships also fired bombs toward the city. Well, I was able to return even heavier fire!

When the bastions were built, earthen redoubts were piled up around me, some of which have been removed. The crumbling towers of the gate complex were also demol- ished. During the time of the Czar, I was converted for use as an ammunition dump. In 1830, a prison was opened here. In 1877, I was renovated as a barracks. Then I was connected to a stone building which was made into the city prison. In February of 1917, flames poured out of every door, window, or other opening.

In the time of the first Estonian republic, I was made into a cinema or a dance club with a spinning floor, and finally into the city wood storage. Polish restoration builders constructed a roof for the circular inner courtyard on the occasion of the Moscow Olympic Games. There had been trees growing there until 1978. Now the rooftop café offers wonderful views of the city and the sea once again.

Construction history. Between 1519–1532, the heavy cannon tower was built, and a complete renovation of the gate’s defensive complex was completed.