Eesti Elu
Who's the tarnished fellow with the sword?
Archived Articles 12 Jun 2009  Eesti Elu
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He made his first appearance atop the spire of Tallinn's raekoda (Town Hall) in 1530, holding his flag and brandishing his sword. Soon the identity of the tuulelipp (weather vane, literally "wind flag" in local speak) became renown and Vana Toomas or Old Thomas became the symbol of the capital.

If you had relatives or friends in Soviet Estonia, you might very well have what is now a trendy collector's item in your home in the form of a 1960s black and white plastic table lamp featuring Toomas's silhouette.

The Toomas we see here took on the role of MC at this year's annual Vanalinna päevad or XXVIII Old Town Days, which wrapped up on June 6 and has been said to resemble Eesti Nukuteatri (Estonian Puppet Theatre) actor Andres Roosileht. You can visit two of his predecessors inside the Town Hall, including the original, (the next Toomas was lost in the 1944 bombing raid on the capital) and the most recent, who was on duty since 1952 and took early retirement in 1996 at age 44. That was the year the entire copper-clad spire was replaced and a new-old Toomas took his post at 65 metres up.

During the summer months visitors can climb the tower from 11.00 to 18.00 daily and get pretty close to this faithful guardian: 115 steps to the bell balcony at 34 metres. Admission is 30 kroons, 15 kr for seniors and students.
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