Kiek in de Kök tower

The cannon tower Kiek in de Kök was founded in 1475-1483. The name was first recorded in the description of the second siege of Tallinn in 1577 as Kyck in de Kaeken, later on several forms of the same name were used, such as Kik (Kyk) in de Kok, Kiek in die Küche, Pulffer-Thurm Giecken Köck. In 1696 the present name Kiek in de Kök was also mentioned, meaning “peek into the kitchen” in Low German. And true enough, it was possible to watch what the enemy was doing in their “kitchen” i.e. on position lower down from the about 38m-high tower. Already in the late 15th century the tower was somewhat reconstructed. The outer walls were made thicker and the tower got a diameter of 17.3 m. The walls are 4 m thick but the tower was then lower than today. The waterproof upper floor made of cobblestones was open and had 22 embrasures in its parapet. The parapet must have been covered by some kind of a roof but the middle part of the floor was uncovered to get the mortars and catapults in place better. Compared to the other Tallinn towers Kiek in de Kök was predominant in its fire power, due to its 27 embrasures for cannons and 30 for handguns. The ground floor was a storage floor and here was also the initial entrance. This floor had a narrow light and airshaft and no embrasures. The ammunition was hoisted up through the openings in the domed vaults by the help of a winch. On the upper, defence floors the guns were rigged in embrasures that were provided with niches for the logs that served to stop the backlash. The floors of the embrasures were initially stepped to enable the men handle the guns better. The fireplaces on every floor were needed to get fire for the firearms. Reconstructions in the 16th and 17th century changed the original looks of the tower considerably. When the Ingermanland bastion was heaped up, two lower storeys of the tower became underground ones inside the bastion earth mound. The entrance from the bastion was made into the second floor. The four upper floors were reconstructed to suit the guns on wheel carriages. Most of the steps in the embrasure floors were levelled and the embrasure mouths were funnelled. Above the embrasure chambers vents for siphoning gunpowder smoke out were built. The last floor got a new outer wall to support a new ceiling roof that was 2 m thick at its thinnest and 4 m thick at the top of the vault. While the armaments developed, the defence wall around the town lost its significance. In 1760 the tower was taken over by the state and was used as a storage, apartments, archive rooms. At the beginning of the 20th century the first Estonian heavy athletes used some of the rooms as training quarters. To get rid of all sorts of small buildings erected around the tower, some reconstruction took place in 1958 and on 20 July the same year a branch museum of Tallinn City Museum was opened here. The extensive reconstruction in 1966-1968 aimed at finding a compromise between the 15th-16th century architecture, the 17th century reconstructions and the needs of a modern museum. New floors of flagstone plates were laid, a heating and running water systems were installed, the stairs were repaired and, to some extent, renovated. The earth part of the bastion outside was made lower in the southern and western sides. In the southern side the excavation was bordered with a protective wall and an entrance was built in this side. It led to the hall and auxiliary rooms. The annex and the original tower were connected by a former embrasure, thus the visitor gets to the first floor. The staircase that takes the visitor upstairs was made during the restoration in 1966-68.