Tallinn – Toompea Teutonic Castle


   The first information about the castle hill relate to 1219, in which, according to the chronicler Henry of Latvia, the Danish army of Valdemar II won the victory over the Ests and took over the pagan hillfort Lyndanisse, identified with today’s Tallinn. In 1227, the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword took advantage of the weakening of the kingdom of Denmark and seized northern Estonia. Probably at this time the first stone castle was built in which the commandry was located. After the defeat of the Livonian Brothers at Saule Battle, they were forced to join the Teutonic Order and return in 1238 the Rewel (Tallinn) back to Denmark. Under Danish rule, the stronghold was until 1346, when due to financial troubles, the territories of Estonia, of course along with the castle in Tallinn, were sold to the Teutonic Order. These began rebuilding, so that the stronghold could meet the requirements of the conventual castle. The essential stage of work ended before the end of the 14th century.
In 1561, the order was no longer able to provide defense to the subjects, and as a result the city took over the care of Sweden. Swedish troops defended Tallinn twice: in 1570 and 1577, against the invasions of the troops of Ivan the Terrible. The Swedes also transformed the fortified castle into the representative and administrative center of political power in Estonia.
In 1710, Sweden lost the territory of today’s Estonia to the Russian Empire. The new administration eventually transformed the castle into a palace. In the eastern part of the castle complex, among other things, a baroque and neoclassical wing was added. It contained the governor’s offices and housing quarters. After the announcement of the Estonian Declaration of Independence in 1918, a building was erected on the site of the castle, in which the republic’s parliament was located.


   The castle before the takeover by the Teutonic Order probably consisted of a main tower and a defensive wall. In the second half of the fourteenth century, it was built into the Teutonic walls, which formed a outer bailey, to which a four-winged conventual house was added from the north-west. On the first floor, all the rooms required by the rule were placed: a two-nave refectory in the east wing, a dormitory with a bay latrine in the west wing and a chapel, and a chapter house in the northern wing. In the south wing there were private chambers of a commander. The rooms on the ground floor served for economic purposes, and all wings were connected by an external gallery circling the entire courtyard. The whole of the upper castle from the north, east and south was surrounded by an external wall, which separated two wards.
Probably before the end of the fourteenth century, the south – east tower of Stür den Kerl was erected, as well as the south – western tower of outer bailey, named Pikk Hermann (High Hermann). Before the middle of the fifteenth century, the height of the defense walls was raised and two additional towers were added on the north side of the ward: Landskrone in the north-east and Pilsticker in the north-west. The final appearance of the castle was reached in the sixteenth century, when all the towers were raised to their highest heights.

Current state

   Currently, Toompea Castle is the seat of the Estonian Parliament, government and the highest authorities of the republic. Its characteristic medieval tower, High Hermann, 45 meters high, is one of the symbols of the capital. Apart from this, the eastern side of the castle and the two northern towers, Landskrone and Pilsticker, have retained their original character. The remaining part has been thoroughly rebuilt, although the original arrangement of the upper castle and the two wards is still legible in the pictures from a great height. Unfortunately, the monument is not open to the public, with the exception of the underground under the Pikk Hermann tower.

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Borowski T, Miasta, zamki i klasztory, Inflanty, Warszawa 2010.
Zamki regionu Morza Bałtyckiego, red. T.Kjaergaard, Bydgoszcz 1995.