Top Historic Sights in Haapsalu, Estonia

Explore the historic highlights of Haapsalu

Haapsalu Castle

The bishop castle of Haapsalu was built in the 13th century. It was the main residence of the Bishop of Läänemaa. The Läänemaa bishopric was created as a state of the Holy Roman Empire on 1 October 1228. Construction, widening and reconstruction of the stronghold went on throughout several centuries, with the architecture changing according to the development of weapons. The stronghold achieved its fi ...
Founded: 1228 | Location: Haapsalu, Estonia

Alexander Nevsky Church

The church of Alexander Nevsky was originally a small chapel built in 1896. Only few years (1896-1897) later it was reconstructed as a church by the design of Architect A. Krasovski. The central part of the church is covered by a high, tented roof in 'Moscow style', crowned by an onion dome. It also has other characteristic features of Russian Orthodox churches, and is renowned for its iconostasis. During colder m ...
Founded: 1896-1897 | Location: Haapsalu, Estonia

St John's Church

The St John’s (Jaani) Church of Haapsalu was built during the restless reformation years during the early part of the 16th century (first mentioned in 1524), and initially it was dedicated to St Nicholas. The church is exceptionally laid out in a north-south bearing. The basement of the church was an ancient storage house. The church has a beautiful stone altar (17th century), a wooden pulpit (18th century) and one ...
Founded: 1524 | Location: Haapsalu, Estonia

Church Of The Congregation Of Maria Magdalena

The Orthodox Maria Magdalena Church was built in 1847-1852 by the unknown architect. Russian Tsar Alexander II attended the opening of the church in 1852. The church was restored to its present state only a few years ago. The church is open on Sundays from 9 am to noon.
Founded: 1852 | Location: Haapsalu, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.