Ever since the German Knights of the Sword first built a stone fortress here in 1227-29, every foreign empire that ruled Estonia used the castle as its base. Today, appropriately, it's home to Estonia's Parliament.
The castle has been revamped countless times through the centuries, but still retains the basic shape it was given in the 13th and 14th centuries. From its front, visitors can only see a pink, Baroque palace dating to the time of Catherine the Great. A look at its opposite side, visible from the base of the hill, gives a much more Medieval perspective.
From the Governor's Garden at the castle's southern edge, the 46-metre Pikk Hermann tower comes into view. The tower is a vital national symbol: tradition dictates that whichever nation flies its flag over Pikk Hermann also rules Estonia. Each day at sunrise the Estonian flag is raised above the tower to the tune of the national anthem.
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