Hermann Castle

Narva, Estonia

Hermann Castle (also Hermannsburg, Herman Castle, Narva Castle, or Narva fortress) was founded in 1256 by the Danes and the first stone castle was built in the beginning of the 14th century. The German Livonian Teutonic knights order purchased the castle on 29 August 1346 and for most of its history the castle was German Teutonic.

Although the exact age of Narva Castle and the town cause still arguments between historians, they agree on the sequence of events. Firstly, in about the 13th century, the Danes, who had conquered Northern Estonia, built a wooden border stronghold at the crossing of the Narova River and the old road. Under the protection of the stronghold, the earlier settlement developed into the town of Narva, which obtained the Lubeck town rights in the first half of the 14th century.

Following several conflicts with the Russians, the Danes started building a stone stronghold at the beginning of the 14th century. It was a small castellum-like building with 40-metre sides and a tower, a predecessor of the today's Herman Tower, at its north-western corner. At the beginning of the 14th century, a small forecourt was established at the north side of the stronghold and, in the middle of the century, a large forecourt was added to the west side, where citizens were allowed to hide in case of wars as the town of Narva was not surrounded by a wall during the Danish rule.

In 1347 the Danish king sold Northern Estonia, including Narva, to the Livonian Order, who rebuilt the building into a convent building according to their needs. The stronghold has for the most part preserved the ground plan with its massive wings and a courtyard in the middle. The Herman Tower was also completed at the time of the Order, necessitated by the establishment of Ivangorod Castle by the Russians to the opposite side of the Narva River in 1492. The Order surrounded the town with a wall, which unfortunately has not been preserved (in 1777 there came an order to pull it down).

The Narva Castle is one of the main attractions of the city. The Narva Castle is the most diverse and best preserved defence structure in Estonia. The area of the castle is 3.2 hectares, and the highest point is the Tall Hermann Tower (51 metres). Today you can visit the museum in the castle, were the displays explain the history of Narva and the castle. There are handicraft workshops in the northern courtyard, where you can try your hand at various techniques and handicrafts.

Reference: Wikipedia, Visit Estonia

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Address

Linnuse, Narva, Estonia
See all sites in Narva

Details

Founded: 1256
Category: Castles and fortifications in Estonia
Historical period: Danish and Livonian Order (Estonia)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Randar Narme (4 months ago)
Simply a must-go in Narva.
Cristina Barcos (5 months ago)
Interesting overall. They try to fill in the space as best they can. Lots of up and down. I liked the medieval feel of the courtyard and stalls. Surprisingly, I even liked the beer. The views make it worth your while.
Michael Peretochkin (6 months ago)
Unique architecture, museum and a good place to go for a walk or an excursion.
Artur Usk (6 months ago)
Very cheap and you can get a very good view at the city. Has a not-too-big selection of different arts and curios, spent there 2 hours, probably takes longer in the summer. A must-go when visiting Narva, no excuses.
Nick The Long Shanks (10 months ago)
You've got to appreciate how the local people are looking after this historical site. The building is quite stunning, with lots to explore, see and interact with. What they have done in the North Courtyard is really neat, with hands on things to do and fun craft stuff to look at and buy. Great for kids and adults, although be prepared for a lot of climbing. Most signs had an English translation although not everything did.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

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.