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Tall Hermann Tower

Location: N59° 26` 6.69", E24° 44` 12.9"

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Toompea has been the centre of power in Estonia for 800 years. Estonia has been ruled from here by Danes, Livonian Order, Swedish and Russian governors. Following the Estonian Declaration of Independence in 1918, the house of the parliament of the republic was built there in 1922. It is the world's only Expressionist parliament building. Together with the parliament there worked the Cabinet ministers and the president. Today, Toompea castle is the seat of Estonian parliament, Riigikogu. The castle has changed from a medieval stronghold into a modern centre of ruling the country. Every day 101 members of parliament and 250 staff members work there.  

The towers of the castle has been a part of showing the power as well. In the Middle Ages, there were 4 towers; Tall Hermann, Landskrone ('crown of the land'), Pilsticker ('arrow-sharpener') and Stür den Kerl ('ward off the enemy'). The towers protected the corners of the castle. Some of them has been renovated, some demolished. The most important of them nowadays is Tall Hermann, the defensive tower standing at the south-western corner of Toompea castle. At the top of the tower, 95 metres above sea level, flies the national flag of Estonia. The height of the tower is 45.6 metres and it is the 5th tallest building in Tallinn. A narrow stone staircase of 215 steps leads to the top of the tower. 

The blue, black and white national flag was first seen here on 12 December 1918 and after years of Soviet occupation, again on 24 February 1989. All the flags ever hoisted in the tower are numbered and kept in the archive after usage. Although it is a special weatherproof material, the flags are made of, there are usually 6 flags per year. The Estonian flag is hoisted on the Pikk Hermann tower in Tallinn every day at sunrise, but not earlier than 7.00 a. m., and is lowered at sunset. On the hoisting of the Estonian flag on the Pikk Hermann tower, the opening phrases of the national anthem of Estonia are used as a musical signature, and the musical signature used when the Estonian flag is lowered is the signature created on the basis of a fragment of Gustav Ernesaks’s song Mu isamaa on minu arm /My Fatherland Is My Love/(lyrics by Lydia Koidula). 

Pikk Hermann means in German a tall warrior or a great chief but it is not known why they started to call the tower with that name. The tower was built in three stages from 14th to 16th century. In the Middle Ages the tower was the highest on the coast of the Baltic Sea. It was used as a watch tower and defence tower. The tower had the heating system which was heated on the ground floor. There was also a 15-metre deep prison cell under the tower where the prisoners were lowered through the narrow slot.