History of Loewenschede Tower

The urban population of Tallinn gathered around the order castle and residence of the bishop by the middle of 13th century, but there are no more detailed sources available for characterisation of these early settlements.

The situation in Tallinn in 14th century created preconditions for the establishment of the specific section of city wall and its towers. The city had to be fortified against neighbours and also the Estonians longing for their former freedom. Fortunately many historical records of the period have preserved. From these we can read that in 1310 the military expert Johannes Kanne (Jens Kande), the ambassador of the Danish king Erik Menved, submitted his credentials to the city council of Tallinn. One of the specific tasks assigned by him to the city council was connection of the territory of St. Michael’s nunnery of female Cistercians with the city. Promptly after this, construction of the wall began, which originally ran from the current location at Loewenschede Tower directly to Kuldjala and Köismäe towers. The wall passed immediately behind the nunnery and provided restricted access to the city. Therefore in 1372 a new wall section was constructed, heading through the north-western territory of the nunnery (the so-called Nuns’ Paddock). On the completed wall section, the alderman Winant Louenschede built the first four-storey wall tower, which was unique at that time. The first Loewenschede Tower was completed in 1373. External diameter of the tower was 10.7 m and thickness of the walls on I floor was 1.55 m. Total height of the first tower from the foundation was 15.5 m. Upper part of the tower, which had been constructed against the city wall, rested on the parapet. Access into the tower was provided from the passageway of the city wall, which has been preserved as a recess on the II floor of the current tower. II and III floors of the tower included 5 embrasures with peculiar vaulted paving, which cannot be found in other towers of Tallinn.
Loewenschede II was completed in the period 1432…38. In this stage, mainly the weak upper part of the tower was strengthened and also openness of the tower towards the city was diminished.
During the construction stage of Loewenschede III (1455-1456) the upper embrasures were covered with arched paving. The open side of the tower facing the city was closed. A new interior lining was added to the inside, increasing the thickness of walls of the tower on I floor to 2.3 metres. The interior lining closed embrasures of the second floor, except the northernmost one. Height of the tower from the foundation increased to 24.2 m, thus being the largest city tower of Tallinn in that period; for that reason it was called just „The Great Tower“ after the original name was left aside. Stone constructions of Loewenschede III have well preserved starting from 4th floor. There are four large rectangular embrasures in the projecting wall of the room. The room is covered by cylinder vault, which carried a heavy watertight ceiling together with throwing weapons and ammunition reserves. Original floor of the platform storey of Loewenschede has not preserved, its former existence can be noticed in typical traces on 5th floor of the tower.
It is not exactly known, when did Loewenschede Tower get its spire, but on the measuring drawings from 1738 it already exists.

After the loss of its protective function, active reconstruction of the tower into apartments started in the last quarter of 18th century. For this purpose the interior lining was demolished in extent of 3 lower floors (Loewenschede III). It is known that already in 1842 the tower was used as living quarters by fire marshal Barth. (2nd and 3rd floor of the tower as we see it today.) In 1870 also the fire marshal Wagner used the tower, which stone sections and roof were in good condition.

When in 1870 the building department of the Administration of Estonian Guberniya asked the opinion of the city council of Tallinn for the historical value of city fortifications, the council answered that ” ...although the round city wall is remarkable and interesting as a historical monument, actually only the Great Coast Gate and Harju Gate, Pikk Jalg and former Viru Gate are worth preservation …. but the rest has no visual appearance worth preserving and is only blocking traffic. The city has no interest in preservation of the round wall...the sooner they will be eliminated, the more useful it will be for traffic.”

Either in that period or already earlier the interior of the tower was reconstructed with several partition walls and embrasures were replaced by architecturally unsuitable pane windows.

The conservation activities performed in 1969 – 1970 eliminated risk of accident of the tower: a reinforced concrete framework was constructed inside the tower together with support posts and ceilings carrying the upper floors of the tower. Original dimensions of the floors and embrasure system of the tower were restored.

In the course of conservation activities performed in 1983 – 1984 the tower was furnished for the exposition of the future architectural museum. The museum was located in the tower in the period 1991 – 1996. After the museum moved out, the tower had several tenants.

From 2009 MTÜ Asuuritorn started operation in Loewenschede Tower. In the course of adaptation of the building into a ceramics centre, the entrance from the side of Towers’ Square was reopened and a spiral staircase was installed between 3 lower floors of the tower.

Zobel Rein 1980 „Tallinna keskaegsed kindlustused“,
Archive of the Cultural and Heritage Department of Tallinn,
Tamm Jaan 1984 „Restauraatorid vanas Tallinnas“