Paide – Teutonic Castle Weißenstein


   Weißenstein castle, or White Stone, began to be built in 1265 by the land master of Livonia, Konrad von Mandern. Initially, it served as the seat of Jerwen vogt, it was at the intersection of important local roads connecting the southern regions of Livonia with Rewel in the north. Therefore, around the stronghold, the settlement quickly began to develop, which in 1291 received town rights. The military and economic flourishing of the center resulted in the raise of the castle to the rank of commandry and its extension at the beginning of the 14th century. The first witnessed by sources commander was Raimar Hahn, who was in the years 1314-1316.
The castle played an important role during the Estonian uprising on the Night of Saint George. Negotiations took place in it between the four leaders of the rebellion and the Order, during which the Teutonic Knights rejected the offer of paying tribute to the Estonian conditions, and then insidiously murdered the insurgent commanders. After the suppression of the uprising, northern Estonia fell under the rule of the Teutonic Order, and the castle lost its border location. However, it retained an important economic and political role, the commanders of Paide were among the five highest officials of the Order, sitting in an informal council, advising the land master of Livonia. In the 15th century, the castle was one of six Teutonic centers that still had the required number of 12 members.
In 1560 the castle in Paide was one of the few that resisted the invasion of Ivan the Terrible. They had to give up after a three-week siege. Two years later, however, the stronghold got into the hands of the Swedes, who could not defend it again in 1573. The castle was captured by Muscovy troops under the personal command of Ivan the Terrible. Four years later, the Swedish army recaptured Paide, and then modernized its fortifications in the eighties of the 16th century. However, they were not enough to prevent the White Stone being occupied in 1602 by Polish troops under the command of hetman Jan Zamoyski, who defeated the predominantly enemy on the outskirts of the town. Polish domination did not last long and after six years the castle returned to Sweden. Partially destroyed, it soon lost its significance and began to fall into ruin. A tragic fate was met by the main castle tower, which in 1941 was blown up by the Soviet army. It was rebuilt in 1990-1993 after Estonia regained its independence.


   Weißenstein consisted of a two-wing upper ward and a fortified, partially built-up outer bailey protecting it from the south and west. A gate in the form of a defensive four-sided tower on the west side led to it. Another four-sided gatehouse was on the north-eastern side. The main element of the upper ward was a massive, about 30 meters high, octagonal tower with five main floors and a combat level hidden behind the breastwork. Three of the storeys were covered with vaults, and two with flat wooden ceilings. The lowest of them, high and partially sunk into the ground, could act as a prison dungeon. Access to it was only through a hatch in the vault from the level of the first floor, from where, if necessary, it was possible to inspect the lower chamber through a small hole without having to lift a heavy bolt. At the level of the first floor, there was also the original entrance to the tower, connected either to the curtain of the defensive wall or accessible via external wooden stairs or a ladder.

Current state

   Currently, in Paide you can see the relics of the castle, mainly remnants of the west gate and the reconstructed main tower. It houses a small museum dedicated to the history of the castle and the town.

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