Estonian Maritime Museum
History and museums
The Estonian Maritime Museum (Estonian: Eesti Meremuuseum) is located in the Fat Margaret tower in the old town of Tallinn. The museum presents history of ships and navigation in Estonia and related to Estonia. Other parts of the Maritime Museum are the mine museum and the Seaplane Harbour where museum ships are presented.
Fat Margaret (also known in German as Dicke Margarethe) was built in the early 16th century (from 1511 to 1530) during the reconstruction of the medieval city gate system. The etymology of the tower's name derives from the fact that it was the largest part of the city's fortifications with walls measuring 25 metres in diameter, 20 metres in height and up to 5 metres thick. Apart from being a fortification against would-be invaders to the port of the town, it was also built to impress outside visitors arriving by sea.
The tower is a defensive structure at the end of Pikk tänav (Pikk Street). Together with the Suur Rannavärav (Great Coastal Gate), a sixteenth-century arch flanked by two towers, it served to defend the harbour of Tallinn. Later, it was used as a storehouse for gunpowder and weapons, and then transformed into a prison, and was the scene of an outbreak of violence during the 1917 Revolution, when the prison guards were murdered by a mob of workers, soldiers and sailors.
The tower now serves a more peaceful function of housing the Estonian Maritime Museum which looks at the nation's seafaring history with a collection of nautical paraphernalia that spreads over four stories and a view of the old town and Tallinn's harbour and bay from its rooftop viewing platform.
Present exhibits include