Padise – Cistercian Monastery


   After the conquest of the surrounding lands by the crusaders in the middle of the 13th century, the area around Padise was given to the Cistercian monks from the monastery in Dünamünde. Soon after, they erected a small stone chapel here. In 1310, after the Teutonic Order purchased a native monastery in Dünamünde and turned it into a commandry, the Cistercian convent moved to Padise. Seven years later, the king of Denmark, Eric VI Menved, gave permission for the monks to build a full-fledged monastery.
In 1343 on the Night of Saint George it was captured by Estonian insurgents and 28 monks were killed in it. After the repurchase of the surrounding area from Denmark by the Teutonic Knights, they allowed the local monks to rebuild the monastery. From that moment, the importance and property of the Cistercians of Padise grew steadily. At the beginning of the 15th century, the monastery had numerous lands not only in Estonia, but also in Swedish Finland.
In the sixteenth century, the monastery did not undergo a progressive Reformation. Only in 1558, appreciating the military values ​​of the building, the last Teutonic master of Livonia, Gotthard Kettler, took over the monastery and chased away the monks. As early as 1561, the Swedes occupied Padise, and a year later Kettler threw off the monastic habit and gave himself under the protection of Poland and Lithuania as a Protestant prince. In 1576, the monastery was occupied by Moscow, the Swedes regained it in 1580, after a long siege and destroying bombing. In 1622, king Gustav II Adolf handed the ruins to the burgrave of Riga, Thomas Ramm, whose heirs were in possession of Padise until 1919.


   The monastery in Padise consisted of a church, monastery buildings forming a courtyard and fortifications giving off another northern courtyard. Chapter house, sacristy, refectory and church were located a few meters above the ground floor. Placing them on the first floor was forbidden by the Cistercian monastery rule, and on the ground floor they could not be for defensive reasons. The monastic church as the weakest defense point, was raised even higher, and under it were constructed spacious, windowless cellars, so-called lower church. The second level was equipped with large, gothic windows. As the rule also forbade the construction of church towers, only a small, overhung defensive turret without its own foundations, was erected on the temple. The whole of the monastery complex, apart from the walls and later towers, was defended by a moat.

Current state

   The monastery complex in Padise is the best preserved medieval, fortified monastery in the area of Livonia. It is also a very interesting example of the architecture of a religious order, other than the Teutonic Order. The entire north-eastern part of the monastery has been preserved with the most important rooms: a chapter house, a sacristy, and above all a church with underground with gothic vaults. Unfortunately, the south-western part was destroyed during the Livonian War.

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Borowski T, Miasta, zamki i klasztory, Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.