Tartu (Dorpat) – Bishop’s Castle


   The construction of the castle began in 1234 and already in 1262, it managed to defend itself against the invasion of Novgorod’s army led by Dmitry of Pereyaslavl, son of Aleksander Nevsky. The fortifications of the castle and the city were one of the reasons why the Teutonic Order was unable to impose its authority on the bishop’s duchy. The stronghold suffered during the Livonian War in the second half of the 16th century and during the Great Northern War at the beginning of the 18th century, after which it was completely demolished during the afterwar reconstruction of the city.


   The castle was erected on a hill above the town, on its southern side, probably in a mixed brick and stone construction. The layout of the strongholds is poorly recognized and very hypothetical. It probably consisted of the upper castle and the fortified outer bailey located west of it, separated by a ditch. The whole structure has an oblong shape with defensive walls running close to the edges of the hill slopes. The upper ward was equipped with a cylindrical main tower, standing right next to the eastern wing of the castle, partially joined with it, and partially protruding in front of the face of the wall to the east. At a later stage, a zwinger could have been built in front of it, stretching in front of the south-eastern corner of the castle. The outer bailey was reinforced with at least four towers and gate towers with an entrance on the west side, probably at the end of the Middle Ages, preceded by a barbican or some form of a foregate adjacent to the four-sided tower. The entire complex was connected with the town defensive walls, which were connected with the castle from the east and west.

Current state

   The castle has not survived to modern times. Only the remaining small brick and stone relics of the walls are visible. Admission to the former castle hill 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.