Helme – Teutonic Castle Helmet


   The exact date of the castle’s creation is not known, nor is it known whether it was built on the site of an earlier pagan hillfort. In written sources, the castle Helme (Helmet) first appeared in 1412, although its building probably took place much earlier, probably in the first half of the fourteenth century. It stood in the center of the Livonian property of the Teutonic Order, on the road connecting Wenden and Fellin.
In 1471 in the castle was imprisoned the Land Master of Livonia, Johann Waldhaus von Heerse, overthrown by the confreres. It is also known that in 1560, near the castle, the battle of Ermes took place, in which the Muscovite troops defeated the forces of the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Knights. In spite of this, the castle happily avoided major damages and went under Polish-Lithuanian rule. The end of the military history of the castle came in 1658, when Helme destroyed Russian troops raking the areas of southern Estonia. Since then, the castle remains in ruin.


   The castle had an irregular shape, adapted to the form of the hill on which it was erected, elongated on the north-south line. Little is known about the internal layout of the castle rooms. It is certain, however, that the main castle gate was from the south, and a bridge leaning on stone pillars led to it. The main square tower was also identified, located halfway along the west wall, entirely situated in the courtyard and not protruding from the defensive perimeter. In addition, the south-eastern section of the perimeter was protected by two towers, four-sided in the plan and entirely extended towards the ditch. The inner buildings of the castle were adjacent to the perimeter wall, especially in its northern part, where probably the most important representative and living rooms were located, arranged in three wings. Additional buildings, perhaps auxiliary or economic, were also located in the southern part of the castle, near the entrance gate. The whole complex was surrounded by a double ditch.

Current state

   Despite the fact that the castle was still in quite good condition in the 19th century, today it is in the form of a ruin with small relics of internal buildings and longer fragments of the perimeter wall. Entrance to the castle is free.

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Borowski T, Miasta, zamki i klasztory, Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.
Tuulse A., Die Burgen in Estland und Lettland, Dorpat 1942.