Viljandi

 

 

Viljandi (Estonian Viljandi, until 1919 Fellin (German Fellin)) is a city and municipality in Estonia, the administrative center of Viljandi County. The seventh largest and most populous city in the country. Viljandi railway station (Tallinn - Viljandi line) is located in the city.

Located in the southern part of Estonia, on the northern shore of Lake Viljandi. Distances: to Tallinn - 161 km (north), to Tartu - 81 km (east), to Pärnu - 97 km (west), to Riga - 245 km (southwest), to St. Petersburg - 393 km (to the north-east).

 

History

The oldest settlements in this area date back to the 5th century. BC NS. An Estonian settlement on the site of Viljandi was founded no later than the Viking Age. According to the site visitestonia.com, the first written mention dates back to 1154, when the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi first put a consonant toponym on the world map.

The first permanent settlement appears in the 12th century. In 1223, these lands were finally conquered by the Order of the Swordsmen. In 1224, instead of wooden fortifications, the construction of a stone fortress began, which at times was considered the most powerful in the Baltic. Over the next 200 years, it was constantly being completed and modernized.

In 1283 the Archbishop of Riga granted the town of Velyn to the surrounding settlement of Fellin.

At the beginning of the 14th century, Fellin became a member of the Hansa and an important point in trade with Russia, which led to the city's prosperity. In 1365, the city participated in the signing of the peace between the Hansa and Denmark.

During the Livonian War, the city and fortress of Fellin were taken by Russian troops and partially destroyed. Even greater destruction occurred during the Polish-Swedish War (1600-1611). After Fellin was taken by the Poles in 1602, only a few walls remained from the former power and splendor of the city. In the 17th century, under Swedish rule, Fellin was stripped of its city status.

In 1783, Empress Catherine II restored this status and made Fellin the center of the county. With the growth of economic and political influence, the population of the city also increased.

In 1950-1991 Viljandi was the center of the Viljandi region of the Estonian SSR.

The city is a member of the Hanseatic League of the New Age and in 2015 hosted the festival "Hanseatic Days of the New Age".

 

Sights

Fellin Castle - built in the 13th century; functionally divided into northern, southern and eastern parts. The castle has a meeting room (chapter), a two-nave tower, an archive room, a bedroom and living quarters of the commander, a refectory, a kitchen, a gallery, stables, servants' dwellings, storage rooms, a well 26 meters deep.
Town Hall - built in 1820, reconstructed in 1931 by architect Johannes Fuchs and engineer Erich Oetting in the style of Estonian functionalism.
Church of St. John - Built in the second half of the 17th century.
The oldest wooden residential building in the city, whose construction dates back to 1790, is located at Laidoneri Plats 3. The building is recognized as a national cultural heritage.
City Courthouse - built in 1895 in the neo-Renaissance style.
St. Paul's Church - Built in 1866 by the architect Matthias von Holst in the neo-Gothic style. The church has an organ and a memorial stone dedicated to the victims of the shipwreck of the ferry "Estonia".
Viljandi Water Tower - built in 1911 in the center of the city, its height reaches 30 meters. It is currently used as a museum with an exhibition on the history of the city.
Viljandi Manor - the former estate of the von Ungern Sternberg barons, built in 1880 by the architect Robert Pflug. The building currently houses the Estonian Traditional Music Cultural Center.