The Danish King’s Garden in the 1930´s

How did the towers and walls look hundred years ago? A lifelike model depicting the Danish King’s Garden during the 1930s can be seen in the Kiek in de Kök Fortifications Museum.
The model depicts the time when the Middle Age fortifications lost their wartime significance and were used as dwellings, homes and apartments.

Towers were turned into homes

At the end of the 18th century, when the population of Tallinn grew, the need for living space grew with it. Now, the fortifications that no longer had the significance that they did during the war, were more broadly taken up as living space. The fortresses turned into homes and homes turned into fortresses for the habitants, among whom, for example in the Maiden Tower, well-known artists and influential Tallinners were situated. The Maiden Tower is one of the towers in the city that has changed in appearance and has been rebuilt the most in history. At the beginning of the 19th century, the former four-storey fortification was formed into a two-storey dwelling with a salient curved wall, tall windows and a classical facade. During the Soviet time at the end of the 1960s, the residence was torn down and the Maiden Tower as a four-story fortification tower was restored and a cafe was designed inside it.

The Maiden Tower has been used as an atelier by an outstanding aquarellist Carl Alexander von Winkler. The second floor was also a home for the twin brothers artists Kristjan and Paul Raud. Aquarellist Karl Burman snr lived in the same space for 25 years, artist Henrik Olvi lived on the first floor etc.

Many renowned people have also lived, operated and worked in the buildings surrounding the beautiful garden space – entrepreneur and the first Estonian urban space designer Hans Heinrich Falck, personal doctor of Russian emperors Philipp Karell. Building owners have been baron Alexander von der Pahlen, the person who created the railway to St. Petersburg and many others.

Big cosy garden

The model depicts the 1930s when the entire area was in possession of private owners. The appearance of the Danish King’s Garden was very different from today. There was a big green garden with many apple, plum and cherry trees, as well as currant bushes and low wooden houses sitting at the edge of the city wall. The stone dwelling of the Maiden Tower, which was grouted and painted pale yellow, had low wooden buildings on each wing and one of them even had a terrace.

The model of the Maiden Tower and garden space is situated in the gallery on the second floor where the wall on the opposite side shows photos of life from the same period. The von Bocks, an Estonian-German family, lived in the Maiden Tower dwelling during the second half of the 1930s. The author of the valuable photo material is hobby photographer Berend von Bock.

The recent Danish King’s Garden was simply called the King’s Garden in the 1930s. According to a legend, “king” referred more to the Swedish king rather than the Danish king. During the 19th century, it was also referred to by the name of the owner – Nestler’s, Liemann’s or Sievers’ Garden.

The restoration and conservation of the area already began in 1915, but the Danish King’s Garden kept its pre-war look until the end of the 1960s. According to the research of architecture historian Villem Raam, the project for the restoration of the Maiden Tower was completed in 1973. The classical facade with the wooden annexes was demolished and the Middle Age form of Maiden Tower was restored, adding two storeys and a tall roof to the surviving body. The Stable Tower, the wall between the Maiden Tower and Short Leg gate tower, as well as the Middle Age wall passage were reconstructed. The domestic fruit tree garden was redesigned into a public greenery.

The model definitely gives food for thought about how much the appearance of Tallinn Old Town has changed during the 20th century and also how the principles of restoration have changed.


The model was made by OÜ Elukunstnik and Siiri and Mait Murumäe. The artist was Jaagup Roomet, Consultants Risto Paju and Tõnu Pedaru, project manager Toomas Abiline.