Tallinn Estonia Three Towers

Three Towers pin

Three Towers pin

I got this pin on May 17, 2015 in Tallinn, Estonia. It shows three towers from the old city wall.

The unique value of Tallinn’s Old Town lies first and foremost in the well-preserved completeness of its medieval milieu and structure, which has been lost in most of the capitals of northern Europe. Since 1997, the Old Town of Tallinn has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Tallinn is one of the best retained medieval European towns, with its web of winding cobblestone streets and properties, from the 11th to 15th centuries, preserved nearly in its entirety. All the most important state and church buildings from the Middle Ages have been preserved in their basic original form, as well as many citizens’ and merchants’ residences, along with barns and warehouses from the medieval period.

Its powerful defensive structures have protected Tallinn from being destroyed in wars, and its lack of wooden buildings has protected it from burning down. But it is also crucial that Tallinn hasn’t been massively rebuilt in the interest of dispensing with the old and modernizing the town.

The wall was the most important edifice in a medieval town. It determined the size of the town, sometimes even restricting its growth. The first wall of Tallinn, which was rather low and modest, was built in the second half of the 13th century. It was called Margaret’s Wall, because the order to build it was signed by Queen Margaret of Sambor in 1265.

The reinforcement of the town started in earnest when Johan Canne (Jens Kanne) was appointed the Viceregent of Tallinn in 1310. The wall that was completed in 1355, although the moat had been filled with water ten years earlier. It became to be known as the Canne Wall. It was 6.5 m high and 2.3 m thick. The defense gallery ran on top of the arched niches along the inner side of the wall.

In the first half of the 15th century, the wall was reconstructed again. The arched niches were walled up and the wall was made thicker. Buttresses were built on the inner side of the wall. The wall was made 11-16 m high. The defense gallery, either on top of the wall or on the cantilevers, was nearly 3 m high.

Four towers had been erected by the year 1373. Semicircular or horse-shoe-shaped towers were built at the end on the 14th century. Tall Herman, completed in 1400, became a model for towers with its circular ground plan in the 15th century. At the beginning of the 16th century, the 2.35-kilometre-long wall included 27 towers, which were mainly three-storied and up to 24 meters high. Originally the towers had no roofs but the highest story was waterproof. The towers had fireplaces and latrines.

The names of the towers are rather interesting. It is natural that most of the towers got names after their location, e.g. Sauna Tower, Behind-the-Nuns Tower, Behind-the-Munks Tower, Stable Tower, Roper’s Hill Tower etc. Some names are mocking references to a characteristic feature or function of the tower giving a fertile soil for legends.
Kiek in de Kök was the most powerful cannon tower in 16th-century Northern Europe. It is written in the chronicles that Kiek in de Kök was once the most powerful tower along the Baltic shores.

Tallinn Wall TowersThe round cannon tower, built in the latter part of the 15th century, had a diameter of 17 meters. Its height is 38 meters and its walls are 4 meters thick.

According to the legend, Kiek in de Kök (“peep into the kitchen”) got its name from the great height of the tower. The six-story cupola-vaulted tower was so high, that the warriors at the top of it were supposed to be able to watch the housewives and maids cooking dinner in their kitchens inside the mantle chimneys.

It is not easy to explain the name of the Virgin’s Tower. According to one version, it should be translated as Maiden’s Tower, not Virgin’s Tower. Maiden’s is supposed to be a misconstruction of the Estonian name Mägedevahe (between hills), which became Magd or Mädchen in German. Another version explains the name as a mocking reference to the fact, that for some time the tower was used as an establishment, where prostitutes detained in the streets were kept under the care of an elderly matron, until they became reformed characters. The towers are also connected with lots of ghost stories; the Stable Tower was considered the most haunted one.

Location: 15-E3