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married a local woman, he automatically gained a vested interest in the town's economy
and well-being. He could then join the more prestigious Great Guild, and with that status,
a promising economic and political future often opened up.
Today the hall is a concert venue. Its namesake “black head” is that of St. Maurice, an
early Christian soldier-martyr, beheaded in the third century A.D. for his refusal to honor the
Roman gods. Reliefs decorating the building recall Tallinn's Hanseatic glory days.
Architecture fans enjoy several fanciful facades along here (including the boldly Art
Nouveau #18 and the colorful, eclectic building across the street). Just ahead, pause at the
big yellow building on the right.
Great Guild Hall (Suurgildi Hoone): With its wide (and therefore highly taxed)
front, the Great Guild Hall (#17) was the epitome of wealth. The interior is less grand
and houses a museum (Eesti Ajaloomuuseum) covering the basics of Estonian history as
well as the Guild Hall's past. (But I'd spend time in the nearby Tallinn City Museum in-
stead—closed Tue.) The Guild Hall does have a fun “time capsule” in the cellar where you
can insert your face into videos illustrating episodes in local history (€5, May-Aug daily
10:00-18:00, Sept-April closed Wed, tel. 641-1630, ).
Across the street, at #16 (look for Kalev awnings), the famous and recommended Maias-
mokk (“Sweet Tooth”) coffee shop, in business since 1864, remains a fine spot for a cheap
coffee-and-pastry break.
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