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Tallinn, Estonia

Old Thomas

The Guardian of Tallinn 

Old Thomas (Vana Toomas in Estonian) is name of the weather vane of the tower of Tallinn’s ancient town hall. Legend has it that the real “Old Thomas” spent a life in the service of the city.

As a young boy he won a crossbow competition. Such competitions were organized in medieval times each spring. Only young men from Tallinn’s noble families were allowed to compete. On that particular day none of participating knights was able to hit the target, a figure of a parrot perched on a tall pole. Little Thomas, a poor boy, cheered on by his friends jumped out from the crowd and took a shot. To every-one’s surprise he won.

Being of low birth Thomas was not permitted to receive the promised award. However, he was rewarded with a lifetime employment as a city guard. Thomas grew up to become a great hero, fighting valiantly in the Livonian War.

Years later someone noticed that the figure on top of the town hall tower looked like the old warrior, and started calling it in his honor. The name stuck. Old Thomas is one of the favorite guardian spirits of Tallinn, and a symbol often found on souvenirs.

The original weather vane was damaged in 1941. It was replaced with the copy. The original is kept in town hall.

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