Fat Margaret Tower sounds a little funny and therefore, may create a bit different picture in your head than it actually should. This fat lady named Margaret is actually a unique complex that used to guard the north end of the Old Town from invaders and to impress everyone who arrived through the harbor. Now it is a maritime museum, full of interesting history, letting you take a glimpse at the steamboats of the Middle Ages.
The Fat Margaret Tower is attached to the Great Coastal Gate that is preserved as one of Tallinn’s most impressive defensive structures. Walking through the gate will give you a glimpse of how the medieval merchants coming from the sea used to enter Tallinn to trade and how they would feel about this stone city that used to be the center of Tallinn. In the early 16th century, the Fat Margaret Cannon Tower was added, and the defensive structure became even more impressive for that time. The tower itself has walls up to 5 meters thick, ensuring that nothing could penetrate it. Additionally, it's really huge, with a diameter of 25 meters. So, you could really understand where the name comes from – the tower really is fat. But why is it named Margaret? It remains a mystery to this day. Some say that it was named after a cook, named Margaret, who worked there, others say that it was a "pet" name for one of the first cannons.
Now, the defense structures are not needed, and the tower accommodates the maritime museum since it is close to the sea and the harbor. The museum is large and detailed and offers you a chance to learn about Estonian maritime history. You can see the Neolithic fishing gear, peek at the antique diving equipment, and wonder how did the people live back then. The biggest exhibition is an entire wheelhouse from the 1950-era trawler, and the most special one is a 700-year-old wreck of a cog found in Kadriorg in 2015. You can get lost in the museum for hours – exploring all of its four floors full of the exhibitions and old relics, carefully kept and conservated. You can look up close at approximately 700 ship models. In the summer, visitors can go up the stairs on the rooftop to admire the view of the Old Town and the harbor, now sheltering mainly white cruise ships.
The Fat Margaret Tower stands proudly on the north side of Tallinn Old Town. In the old times, it used to protect Tallinn from the attacks coming from the sea. Now it stands as a maritime museum that offers you a chance to take a glimpse into the maritime history of Estonia.
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