NADFAS REVIEW/ SUMMER 2010 49
50NADFAS REVIEW / SUMMER 2010www.nadfas.org.ukAbove:Labyrinthine andred-roofed,Tallinn's streetshave bornewitness to manychanges over thecenturies Left: AlexanderNevsky Cathedral Tales to tellBeneath Toompea Hill, the medieval cityof Tallinn gazes out towards the Baltic.Today the atmosphere in the 2011European Capital of Culture is calm andprosperous, says Adrian Mourby, butthe city has had a turbulent pastTRAVEL/TOURSWhen Niguliste kirik (St Nicholas'Church) was built in the 13thcentury, the area belowToompea's Danish castle was so unrulythat the Westphalian merchants whopaid for the church fortified it with heavygrilles over the doors and windows.Most of these were removed after thecity walls were built, but St Nicholascontinued to lead an exciting life. Duringthe Protestant Reformation of 1523,iconoclasts tried to storm the church. Itsinvaluable artworks were only saved bya canny churchwarden who pouredmolten lead in the door locks. Prosperityin the 16th and 17th centuries resultedin elaborate baroque pews and a spireover 100 metres high, but these weredestroyed at the end of World War II andagain by a fire in 1982. Both times thechurch was rebuilt and its medieval artworks spared. Today St Nicholasdisplays a rare masterpiece by BerntNotke, the most important painter andsculptor in northern Europe at the endof the 15th century. Danse Macabreisonly a fragment of Notke's original 30-metre frieze, but it remains one ofTallinn's greatest treasures.Around the corner, the city's Town Hallwas also constructed in the 13thcentury, although its Gothic architecturedates from a 15th-century makeover.More than any other building, thisHanseatic structure with its single spire,symbolises Tallinn to the outside world.