Kuressaare Episcopal Castle, Kuressaare linnus.
Location: In the city centre of Kuressaare, the capital of Saaremaa, the largest island off the West coast of Estonia. Address: Lossihoov 1, 93815 Kuressaare.
History: Kuressaare Episcopal Castle is unique in being the only intact medieval fortress in the Baltic countries. The late Gothic dolomite was built of local dolomite with the purpose to house the bishop when he was visiting Kuressaare from mainland Haapsalu, the main residence of the Bishop of Saare-Lääne (Ösel-Wiek) bishopric, over which he ruled since 1227 when the ancient county of Saaremaa had surrendered to the German knights.
The building is a convent-type castle with a square main plan around an inner courtyard, and the oldest part, the Tower of Tall Hermann, is thought to date back to 1260. The main part of the building was probably started at around 1338 and the construction lasted for 40 years. The castle was first mentioned in a chronicle in 1381. The building has three storeys and two towers – the Defense Tower and taller Watch Tower. The latter was not given a roof until the 16th century. The castle was surrounded by impressive walls which have partly survived. One of the cannon towers that dotted the wall has now been restored, having originally been built in the 1470-s.
In the 16th century the Bishop sold the castle to the Danes since the outbreak of a war changed the political situation in the area, and it were the Danes who created the moat around the castle, therefore establishing a citadel. The area was then taken over by the Swedes and the Russians who modernised the building in their turn. In 1836 the castle was sold to the Knighthood of Saaremaa who then restored it during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The castle is now owned by the Regional Museum of Saaremaa, therefore housing several exhibitions about the history of the region, as well as sporting the well-restored interior of the castle with both its religious and defence quarters and eerie details such as torture instruments and dungeons.
Access: The park and surroundings of the castle are free to enter and always open, the inner courtyard and inside of the castle are accessible 1 September – 1 May Wednesday to Sunday 11.00-19.00, otherwise 10.00-19.00 (entry until 18.00) for a fee of appr. EUR 2.
Activities: The castle houses a museum strewn with details from the history of the region. The castle grounds are neighbored by several hotels, spas, the yacht harbour, mini-golf course, beach and tennis courts.
Free pictures of Kuressaare castle to illustrate your web site.
Other castles in the area: Pädaste Manor.
Nearby cities: Orissaare.