Ruins in Estonia

Pirita Convent

Pirita Convent (Pirita klooster) was a monastery, for both monks and nuns dedicated to St. Bridget. In 1407 two brothers from St. Bridget Order Convent in Vadstena, Sweden, had arrived to Tallinn to promote with advice and other assistance the expansion of order to Estonia. In 1417 finally the first limestone quarry permit was obtained from the town with the help of the Grandmaster of the Livonian Order and the building o ...
Founded: 1417 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Viljandi Castle

Viljandi castle was one of the strongest castles in Livonia. The construction was started 1224 under Teutonic Order in place of a former hillfort. The crusaders of Sword Brethren conquered the hill fort at the place of later main castle in 1223. A year later, construction of stone fortifications started. Viljandi was chosen as the high seat of the order. The convent house, a typical form of castle of Teutonic Knights, wa ...
Founded: 1224 | Location: Viljandi, Estonia

Toolse Castle

The castle of Toolse was built in 1471 by the Livonian Order as defence against pirates sailing in the Gulf of Finland. During the Livonian War it changed hands several times, was apparently destroyed and later rebuilt. In 1581 French mercenary Pontus de la Gardie captured the castle for Sweden from Russia which had held it since 1558. The castle was destroyed again during the Great Northern War, ever since which it has ...
Founded: 1471 | Location: Kunda, Estonia

Oru Palace Ruins

Oru Palace was a palace or castle in the northeastern part of Toila. The castle was originally the holiday home of a Russian merchant, Grigory Jelisejev, and later the summer residence of the Estonian head of state. It was built in the Italian renaissance style by Gavril Baranovski, with park designer Georg Kuphaldt. The 57-room three-story building was completed in 1899. The castle descends towards th ...
Founded: 1899 | Location: Toila, Estonia

Helme Castle

Helme church parish was first mentioned in 1329 during a Lithuanian raid. Most of the neighbouring land was fiefed in the 15th–16th centuries. Livonian Order castle in Helme (Ordensburg Helmet) was probably built in the first half of the 14th century. The site on a steep hill is belived to have been used as a stronghold earlier by Sackalians in the Ancient Estonia. By its ground plan the order castle was 120× ...
Founded: ca. 1330 | Location: Valgamaa, Estonia

Vastseliina Castle Ruins

The Vastseliina Castle was a castle of the Livonian Order, Bishopric of Dorpat. It was constructed in 1342 by the Landmeister Burkhard von Dreileben as part of the border fortifications of Old Livonia against Novgorod, Pskov and later Moscow. In the Middle Ages, Vastseliina Castle was well known in the Catholic world as a popular destination for pilgrims. They worshipped the holy cross in the castle chapel and a visit to ...
Founded: 1342 | Location: Vastseliina, Estonia

Laiuse Castle Ruins

Laiuse Castle was the first castle in Estonia built to cope with firearms. The oldest part of the castle was probably built in the end of 14th century by the Livonian Order. It was first mentioned in 1406. In 1558 during the Livonian War the castle was conquered by Russian troops and badly damaged. Nonetheless the castle was later still in use both by Polish and Swedish rulers. During the Great Northern War, from 1700 to1 ...
Founded: ca. 1400 | Location: Jõgevamaa, Estonia

Ungru Manor Ruins

The manor, first mentioned in 1523, was for a longer period of time associated with the noble family of von Ungern-Sternberg. The Neo-Baroque castle, constructed on the manor grounds in 1890 (a copy of the Merseburg castle in Germany), was never finished. After World War II the manor fell into the hands of Soviet troops, in 1968 the chief of the airport decided to use the ruins of the manor to fill in the holes in the run ...
Founded: 1890 | Location: Läänemaa, Estonia

Lihula Castle Ruins

In 1211 Riga's archbishop Albert inaugurated Theodorich as the bishop of Estonia. The centre of the bishopric was to be in Lihula. The Construction of the Bishop's Castle began after the conquest of Estonia, namely in 1238 and it was finished in 1242. The bishop shared the castle with the Order. Their relationship became however quite tense and the bishop soon began to look for a more peaceful location. In 1251 th ...
Founded: 1238 | Location: Läänemaa, Estonia

Karksi Castle

The castle was probably built in the 13th century most likely in place of an ancient Estonian stronghold. The bailiwick of Karksi was first mentioned in 1248. The stronghold had a chapel dedicated to Apostle Peter. The first reference was made to a local clergyman in 1298. The present stone church, very simple in design, was built in the same place between 1773 and 1778. St. Peter’s Church is in the ruins of Karksi ...
Founded: 1298 | Location: Viljandimaa, Estonia

Kunda Manor Ruins

The estate was first mentioned in 1443. It has belonged to the Möllers, von Schwenghelms and also to von Girard de Soucanton's. The stately Early-Classical main building, erected in the estate in the 1770s, lies in ruins. Grand eclectic administrative buildings (mill, distillery, etc.) have been preserved. Reference: Mois.ee
Founded: 1770s | Location: Kunda, Estonia

Rõngu Castle Ruins

The exact construction period of Rõngu vassal fortress is not known, but it was probably completed around 1340. The Holy Cross Chapel, located here, was mentioned in the year 1413. During the Middle Ages, the stronghold belonged to the Tödwen family. The fortress was destroyed by the troops of the Order in 1558 and burnt by Jesuits in 1625. The majority of the castle's layout is not visible over the groun ...
Founded: ca. 1340 | Location: Tartumaa, Estonia

Paldiski Fortress

Swedish conquerors established a sea fortress named Rågövik (“Rye Island Bay”) to the deep and wind-sheltered Paldiski Bay in the 17th century. Later it became a Russian naval base in the 18th century. Peter the Great planned to build a giant military port of there. The plan envisaged that the mole would offer shelter for the entire vast navy of Russia. Construction of the military port started in 1 ...
Founded: 1716 | Location: Paldiski, Estonia

Kärkna Abbey Ruins

Kärkna Abbey, now ruined, was a former Cistercian monastery in Estonia. The monastery was founded before 1233 by the Bishop of Dorpat, Hermann von Buxhoeveden, and settled by monks from Pforta Abbey, of the filiation of Morimond. An early destruction by heathen inhabitants of the district is mentioned in 1234. After attacks by Russian forces from the principality of Vladim ...
Founded: early 1200s | Location: Tartu, Estonia

Otepää Castle Ruins

Otepää castle hill is the site of an ancient stronghold. It is speculated that a fortified settlement may have existed there even before Christ. The first major extension works were initiated in the 11th and 12th century when the castle was at the crossroads of important trading routes. Herman I, the bishop of Tartu, established there the first stronghold of its diocese. A settlement, which was mainly populated ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Otepää, Estonia

Ruins of the Käina Church

According to the contract of 1254 between Saare Lääne bishop Heinrich and the High Master of the Order Eberhard von Seyne the diocesan area of Hiiumaa was divided into two parts and Käina became the center of one of them. In the middle of the 13th century a new house of God was built in the newly established parish. The building´s incinerated ruins were discovered in 1981 while clearing the nave of the church. A ston ...
Founded: 1492-1515 | Location: Käina, Estonia

Keila Castle Ruins

In the 15th-16th century the settlement of Keila consisted some tens of buildings and a hundred people formed around the church. At the same time the Livonian Order built a small fort south-east of the church on Jõepark. During the Livonian War of 1558-1583 the settlement was destroyed.Further hampered by the plague and starvation in 1601-1602 the population declination reduced the community to a small church vil ...
Founded: 1433 | Location: Keila, Estonia

Tarvastu Castle Ruins

The place of the Tarvastu castle has been an ancient fortified stronghold. A medieval Order castle, surrounded by a moat, was built at the River Tarvastu, during the 14th century, and exploded in 1596. In the yard of the front stronghold, there is a light-coloured classicist chapel, founded in 1825, to be burial place of the v. Mensenkampff's family. The suspension bridge, which connected the hill of the front fort wi ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Viljandimaa, Estonia

Vasknarva Castle Ruins

The first Vasknarva order castle (Neuschloss) was founded in 1349 on the northeastern border of Old Livonia. 1427–1442 a new castle (Vastne-Narva) was built, which became the centre of the vogtei of the Livonian Order. The castle was wracked in the Livonian War. Until the Great Northern War it was a fort of great importance, commanding the mouth of the Narva River. It has been known in Russian chronicles either as S ...
Founded: 1349 | Location: Ida-Virumaa, Estonia

Maasi Fortress Ruins

Maasi medieval fort-castle was built with the forced labour of islanders. That's how the ruling Liivi order punished indigenous inhabitants for the uprising, which had destroyed orders previous stronghold. Seaside fort-castle was undefeated until destroyed by Danes. The fortress was blown up in 1576 by the Danes in an attempt to forestall the Swedish invasion and nothing was done for the next 300 years. 8m walls that ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Saaremaa, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.