Toompea Castle

Tallinn, Estonia

Toompea Castle is situated on the steep limestone hill in the central part of Tallinn. The first wooden castle is believed to have been built on the hill in either the 10th or 11th century by residents of the ancient Estonian county of Rävala. It was probably one of the first inhabited areas of what later became Tallinn. In 1219, the castle was taken over by Danish crusaders - led by Valdemar II. According to a legend very popular among Danes, the very first flag of Denmark (Dannebrog) fell from the sky during a critical stage of the Battle of Lyndanisse, fought near the castle, resulting in Danish victory over Estonians. The current castle is mainly constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The castle is one of the most potent symbols of the reigning power, which over the centuries has been conquered by various nations. According to the Altmark peace treaty of 1629, Estonian territories went to the king of Sweden. In 1583–1589 a new ceremonial building, the State Hall building, was erected on Toompea. It was located against the western wall between Tall Hermann tower and the convent building.

In 1710 the ownership of Toompea went from the Swedes to the Russian Czarist Empire. The Russian Empress Catherine the Great ordered the construction of the Estonian Government Administration building in the east side of the fortress; it was completed in 1773.

On 24 February 1918, Estonia became an independent state. From 1920 until 1922, according to the plans of the architects Eugen Habermann and Herbert Johansen, the building of the Parliament (Riigikogu) was built in the castle courtyard. The expressionist design of the building makes it unique among the parliament buildings of the world. In 1935, the palatial south wing was built on the south side, copying the style of the Government Administration building, and the Governor's Garden was laid out in appropriate design.

The Toompea castle and the surrounding old town are is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. Nineteen of the original sixty six defense towers are survived. The old town is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The castle is open to the public with no charge. There are also guided services available.

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Address

Falgi tee 2, Tallinn, Estonia
See all sites in Tallinn

Details

Founded: 13-14th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Estonia
Historical period: Danish and Livonian Order (Estonia)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dino R (4 months ago)
Absolutely stunning expressionist architecture from early last century, that is the estonian parliaments plenary building integrated into the medieval fortress. Well worth a visit to what looks to be an epitome of a so-called humble government. We came with a preregistred group and had no waiting time. Checkin and security check were handled very professionally and our tour guide had a lot of competence and a good pace.
Luke Phang (6 months ago)
A former castle and royal residence that dates back to the medieval times, Toompea Castle now functions as the central location for the Estonian government, where the parliament sits. The place is usually closed to public visits as it's a government building, but occasionally holds public tours (either twice or once per week). We were lucky to be able to join a tour in August on a Thursday, when the parliament was not in session, where we were given a thorough briefing of Estonian history and caught a glimpse of the different sections of the building. You can learn more about the public tours through the website, no sign ups required, they just need a photo ID from you with a security check. Really enjoyed the behind the scene tour into the building and its inner workings. Even without the tour, it's worth just dropping by the area to just admire the function of the place and its rich history.
Goran A. (6 months ago)
Toompea Castle in Tallinn is an absolute gem that transports you through centuries of history. Its commanding presence atop the hill offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city below. Exploring the castle's chambers and walls, you can feel the echoes of bygone eras and imagine the stories that have unfolded within its walls. The blend of architectural styles, from medieval to Baroque, adds to its charm. A visit here is a journey back in time that allows you to connect with Estonia's rich heritage and experience the grandeur of its past rulers. Toompea Castle remains a symbol of Estonia's resilience, heritage, and sovereignty in modern times. As the seat of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu), it plays a crucial role in the country's governance and democratic processes. The castle stands as a reminder of Estonia's journey towards independence and self-determination, reflecting the nation's enduring commitment to preserving its cultural identity. Its historical significance continues to inspire a sense of unity and pride among Estonians, serving as a testament to the country's strength and determination to shape its own destiny.
Steve Erwin (7 months ago)
Important site in modern Estonian history (watch The Singing Revolution!) and no doubt earlier as well. We tried to visit the interior of the castle but failed: after seeing no real signage for Toompea Castle, we finally pulled open an unlabeled door behind a sign for "Riigikogu" (Parliament), whereupon a slightly sleepy attendant informed us that entry is only possible on Tuesday and Thursday at 11 am. There was nothing left to do but gaze up at the balcony outside and think about the film and that critical moment in Estonian history.
Ajay Kumar (7 months ago)
Toompea Castle is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in Estonia's rich history and marvel at its architectural grandeur. Its commanding presence, panoramic views, and historical significance make it an iconic fortress that leaves a lasting impression. Explore the castle grounds, absorb the atmosphere, and appreciate the role it has played in shaping Estonia's past and present. Toompea Castle, perched atop the historic Toompea Hill in Tallinn, is a captivating fortress that holds centuries of Estonian history and cultural significance. This iconic landmark stands as a testament to Estonia's resilience, sovereignty, and architectural splendor. Approaching Toompea Castle, one is immediately struck by its grandeur and commanding presence. The castle's impressive architecture, with its fortified walls and imposing towers, evokes a sense of awe and admiration. Its well-preserved facade, adorned with medieval details, showcases the country's rich heritage.
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