Estonia – Episcopal castle of Haapsalu

Haapsalu Castle was built to be the main residence of the Bishop of Saare-Lääne (Ösel-Wiek) bishopric and dates back to the 13th century,the attached Dome church being an impressive example of early Gothic architecture mixed with Romanesque elements. The castle was expanded into its current shape in the 16th century when the outer wall surrounding the castle with its cannon towers was completed. The walls reached a height of 10 meters and were over 1 meter thick. The inside of the walls was equipped with moats and bastions housing cannons.During the Livonian War in the 16th century, which incidentally marked the end of a semi-independent bishopric, the castle was badly damaged. In the 17th century the castle was no longer used as a defense building by the Swedes who now ruled the Province of Estonia. The walls were partially demolished during the Northern War in 1710 at the command of the Russian Czar Peter who took over the rule of Estonia in the 18thcentury, turning the castle in effect into ruins. The western side of the castle houses a picturesque 29 meter Watchtower dating from the13th century, later used as a bell tower. The Dome church attached to the castle was probably built in the1260-s, following the style of the Cistercian Order.
The round baptism chapel on the eastern side of the church was built in the 14th or 15th century and is the site of a famous legend. On moonlight August nights the shape of a Lady in White appears on the inside wall of the chapels the moon shines through the chapel window. This Lady is said to have been a woman who was in love with a cannon, entering the castle against the rules, therefore having been walled in there alive as a punishment.
The church has been restored and it is again in active use by the local congregation of the Estonian Lutheran Church since 1990.

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