Toompea Castle

Tallinn, Estonia | C.1773

Photo Credit: Caroline Turner

Estonia’s Toompea Castle had the ability to move mountains – or rather, boulders. According to legend, the Castle was constructed upon a hill by a woman named Linda, the mother of Kalevipoeg, who built it boulder-by-boulder with her bare hands.

Kalevipoeg is both the title and main character of the epic poem at the heart of Estonia’s ancient oral tradition. The poem explains the origins of the world through the journey of Kalevipoeg. But before he was even born, Linda built the hill of Toompea. In the poem, her husband Kalev dies and Linda (pregnant with Kalevipoeg) prepares the burial mound by hand. Kalev’s final resting place is now known as Toompea Hill.

While the legend of Linda and her son dates to around the 9th century, the earliest recorded structures on the Hill were built around the 10th century. After enduring centuries of conflict – invasions, conquests, you name it – the Estonian government built Toompea Castle in the late 18th century. The Castle sits upon the ruins of a fortress that once presided over the capital city.

Today, the Castle holds the building that houses Estonia’s Parliament. Added in 1922, the Parliament building was erected shortly after Estonia acquired its independence. We’d like to think Linda would’ve been right there if she could, ready to lend a helping hand – or lift a heavy boulder – to help her country.

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