Top Historic Sights in Harjumaa, Estonia

Explore the historic highlights of Harjumaa

Kernu Manor

Kernu estate was established in 1637. The current building owes its stately neoclassical appearance to a thorough renovation executed 1810-1813, possibly by the designs of renowned Helsinki architect Carl Ludvig Engel. The front façade is dominated by a richly decorated portico, while the side facing the park displays a 4-column half rotunda, unique in Estonian architecture. A care home has been ...
Founded: 1810-1813 | Location: Harjumaa, Estonia

Saha Chapel

The chapel in Saha used to be one of the oldest ecclesiastical centres of Rävala Maakond (Shire). Originally, Saha Church was made of wood, it was burnt down around 1223. Four cult stones with small hollows dating from the 1st millennium BC, located close to the chapel indicate that it had been an ancient cult place. The current chapel was built by builders from Tallinn in the second quarter of the 15th century. Structu ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Harjumaa, Estonia

Suurupi Lighthouses

The older lighthouse of Suurupi was built in 1760. The round old-style stone tower was built near the end of the reign of Czarina Elizaveta Petrovna, this is a magnificent example of classic Russian Imperial lighthouse design. The lighthouse was substantially rebuilt in 1812 and further renovated in 1858. The round watch room was added in 1951, and the present lantern was new in 1998. The newer wooden lighthouse date bac ...
Founded: 1760 & 1859 | Location: Harjumaa, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.