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Castles in Estonia

Estonia has been ruled by Germans, Danes, Swedes and Russians among others since the first occupation of the country in the 13th century. All these conquerors have left behind fortified buildings and estates, many of which are still visible today. Before the conquests, Estonian counties also had traditional fortified centres which were not elaborate in design but nevertheless efficient. The variety of historical buildings in this small Northeastern European country is surprisingly large, which is understood, given the long time frame within which the buildings arose. There are fortresses and bishop’s castles from the 12-16th centuries, stately homes and palaces from the 17-19th centuries and estates built in the early 20th century, combining the architectural varieties of the times with the somewhat rural characteristics of Estonian design.

Every county has a large city functioning as its centre and housing a castle and manors around it, such as Tallinn, Haapsalu, Kuressaare, Paide, Põltsamaa, Viljandi etc. Many country estates can also be found situated more aside from the current main roads, such as Pädaste in Muhu island. Many of these have been well restored in the past 10 years and offer a comprehensive view of what life was like in the past of these buildings.

Kureassaare castle EstoniaKuressaare castle
Kuressaare Castle is a unique medieval Bishop’s fortress, the oldest parts of which date back to the 13th century. With its massive late Gothic building and two imposing towers the fortress constitutes an impressive landmark in the island’s capital. The inside of the castle is extensively restored and offers an attractive overview of artefacts from the past of the building, and with its hidden corners, dungeons and staircases gives a genuine idea of what it felt like to inhabit such a castle.

Padaste manor castle EstoniaPädaste Manor
Pädaste Manor in Muhu is an island manor situated between the local junipers in a picturesque bay. The current whitewashed manor house dates from the 19th century and is surrounded by beautifully restored assistant buildings that house leisure facilities. There is a large park next to the manor and the grounds are open to visitors although the manor house itself is not accessible at this moment. Pädaste is hidden from the main roads of the island, therefore being a quiet rural location with historical feel.

Haapsalu castle EstoniaHaapsalu castle
Haapsalu Castle is a 13th century Bishop’s castle with an attached Dome church, set amidst the 16th century walls marking the expansion of the building. The tall Watchtower offers impressive views over the city and the bay surrounding it, while the Chapel of the Dome church is the site of a famous legend of the unlucky White Lady walled in the castle alive as punishment for her sins. The picturesque ruins and the restored church constitute a significant medieval heritage site in the West Estonian county.

Glehn castle EstoniaCastle Glehn
This Medieval-style castle was built on the slopes of the sandy moorland, under the local pine-trees in the 19th century by the founder of the city borough where is now stands. The castle features a forest park and unique stone statues, having been fully restored in the past 30 years and now being open for pre-arranged occasions. There are plans of possibly opening the castle to the public in the near future. The forest park surrounding the castle is accessible to visitors.


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