– photo by @alexpolyakov
Located in Saaremaa – Estonia’s largest island, Kuressaare Castle (or Kuressaare Episcopal Castle) is one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe. It also houses a museum that showcases the history of Saaremaa.
Even though the exact year when this medieval stone castle was built is unknown, it is believed to be from the late 14th-century. Some sources claim that there was a wooden castle before the current one was built. The castle was built to serve as both an administrative centre and a stronghold by the Bishops of Osel–Wiek. When the island of Saaremaa was taken over by Denmark in the 16th century, they modernised the castle. In the mid 17th-century, Saaremaa island came under Swedish control after they signed a treaty to end the Torstenson War with Denmark. Modernisation of the castle continued till 1706 under the Swedish.
After winning the Great Northern War, the Russian Empire took control of Saaremaa and the Kuressaare Castle once again changed hands. But after the end of Finnish War and the Third Partition of Poland, the Russian empire headed further west and in 1836, they withdrew their military troops from Kuressaare. The castle eventually lost the importance that it had been receiving since its inception and by the 19th century, it started being used as a shelter for the poor.
In the following years, the castle underwent several restorations and today, it is a major tourist attraction and home to Saaremaa Museum. You can easily spend many hours inside the Kuressaare castle or simply stroll around outside in the beautiful surroundings.
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