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.
Dunluce Castle is a ruined medieval castle located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim, and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood.
In the 13th century, Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster, built the first castle at Dunluce. The earliest features of the castle are two large drum towers about 9 metres in diameter on the eastern side, both relics of a stronghold built here by the McQuillans after they became lords of the Route.
The McQuillans were the Lords of Route from the late 13th century until they were displaced by the MacDonnell after losing two major battles against them during the mid- and late-16th century.
Later Dunluce Castle became the home of the chief of the Clan MacDonnell of Antrim and the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg from Scotland.
In 1588 the Girona, a galleass from the Spanish Armada, was wrecked in a storm on the rocks nearby. The cannons from the ship were installed in the gatehouses and the rest of the cargo sold, the funds being used to restore the castle.
Dunluce Castle served as the seat of the Earl of Antrim until the impoverishment of the MacDonnells in 1690, following the Battle of the Boyne. Since that time, the castle has deteriorated and parts were scavenged to serve as materials for nearby buildings.