Town of Viljandi

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The city of Viljandi was first mentioned in documents from 1154 and was incorporated in 1283. In 1224 a stone castle was built here on the site of an ancient Estonian fort. The Viljandi Order Castle was expanded and improved
over centuries and was, in the 16th century, one of the most powerful fortresses in the Northern Baltics. The nearly constant warring between major influences of the area including Sweden, Poland and Russia proved devastating for the once mighty stronghold. A suspension bridge allows visitors access to Castle Hill and the ruins. The bridge was a gift to the town from Baron Karl von Mensenkampff of Tarvastu. The portals of the bridge were made in Riga by "Felser & Co" in 1879. The bridge, which was refurbished in 1995, boasts an expanse of more than 50 meters.

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Just north of the Castle in Viljandi you will find Jaani (St. John's) Church. Originally the site of a Franciscan monastery that burned to the ground during the Livonian war, the present church building was constructed in the late 18th century. The Church was closed to services in the 1950s and was used as a furniture warehouse. In 1986 the city decided to restore the church as a concert venue. Then, in 1989 it was decided the church would remain a church. The first service in more than 40 years was performed on Christmas of 1991. Trepimägi (Step Hill) begins just next to the old Town Hall Building (1774) and leads to Lake Viljandi. The steps were built more than 100 years ago and were meant to improve access between the lake and the town. There are five flights with 158 total steps offering a good heart pumping experience.

Sightseeing in Estonia | Interactive Map | County of Viljandi