The origins of this church go back to the 12th century; it was allegedly built by the Scandinavian community that lived in Estonia even before the Danish take over, and the name Olaf refers to king Olaf II of Norway. (The church is today still a Baptist one).
There is, however, another story connected to the origins of its name. The local legend says that town’s merchants for vain had been seeking someone who would build the tallest church in the world, and one day, finally, a stranger responded. It would be really expensive for the town to have such building, but the man said he would do it for free, provided the citizens guessed his name. He got on with his work, and a spy sent to his home overheard his wife saying his name. The constructor was crookedly called by it – Olev – when he was affixing the cross to the steeple; in surprise he lost his balance, fell to the ground and died. A frog and a snake crawled out of his mouth, which for some was evidence that he had help from dark powers; others believed only that the constructor was cursed.
In 14th century it was extensively rebuilt and in the end of 15th century the church was 159 metres high, which for almost hundred years made the building the tallest in the world. The tall steeple was aimed to be also a maritime signpost, and even later on, during Soviet times, it served as surveillance point and radio tower for the Secret Police KGB.
The spire had been stricken by lightning several times, due to which the church burned down at least three times. Today St.Olaf´s is 124 m high. Between April and October the tower is open to the public.