Great Guild Hall

Tallinn, Estonia

Since the 14th century craftmen’s guilds were significant brotherhoods who drove interests of their members. The big guild of Tallinn was an union of wealthy merchants. Their base was the Great Guild Hall in downtown, opposite the church of Holy Spirit. The building itself was built in 1407-1410 and is a well-preserved sample of Medieval construction.

Today the Great Guild Hall houses a museum presenting Estonia's history from prehistoric times right up to the end of the 20th century. Films and interactive displays show how people here lived, fought and survived over the last 11,000 years.

References: Tallinn Tourism

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Address

Pikk 17-19, Tallinn, Estonia
See all sites in Tallinn

Details

Founded: 1407-1410
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Estonia
Historical period: Danish and Livonian Order (Estonia)

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

M KA (5 months ago)
If you're a history buff, or enjoy collections of old historical items, weapons, coins as well as enjoy reading about and viewing historical exhibitions, then you should pay a visit to this museum. The museum is not too big in size, but it has three floors, impressive collections and a lot of interesting information (also in English) about the old times and how people used to live. It also has a lot of information about the great guilds and their part in the community during the old days. Definitely worth a visit for anyone that's interested in history!
Russell Mulcahy (7 months ago)
We visited this at the end of our stay but really should have visited our first. It's a great, and surprisingly engaging, walk through all the things you are going to ask yourself during your visit. Thoroughly recommended.
Kishikawa Tarz (8 months ago)
Well kept, maintained, and displayed. Facilities are very clean and On the 2nd floor, many coins displayed well! Recommend underground floor to explore to cool down if it is hot outside. Minimum one to two hours and I wanted three hours to go through! Enjoyed a lot!
George On tour (8 months ago)
The mediaeval Great Guild Hall has always played an important role in the life of the city. The permanent exhibition at the History Museum, 'SPIRIT OF SURVIVAL. 11,000 years of Estonian History' (opened in 2011), helps to understand the uniqueness of the people who have lived in Estonia and introduces historical events that have affected them the most. The exhibition discloses the story of Estonian past through rooms with different topics, such as the Gun Room that tells about wars, the exhibition 'Power of the Elite' that talks about the Great Guild and mediaeval trade. You can also see different currencies and take part in historical events in the interactive time capsule.
Robin Cuthbertson (11 months ago)
Interesting museum in the centre of Tallinn. The building is the old Guild House, the museum staffand are very helpful, and one of them was kind enough to take the time to tell us all about the history of the building and the exhibits, which really brought the museum to life. There is an audio guide that you can rent, or download via an app on your phone. I could not get the app to work, so really appreciated the explanations from the staff there.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.