Kiek In De Kök
I am the most famous and tallest defensive tower in the city as well as the first that was built according to the demands of the era of firearms.
Tall Hermann seems taller but is also much slenderer and what is most important is that, it stands high up on the escarpment. Over 300 years ago, a lot of earth was additionally piled up around me, so that the two lowest floors have been buried underground. I was initially called the new tower behind the Boleman sauna. In 1577, the name Kyck in de Kaeken was used and the name still currently in use stems from 1696, Kiek in de Kök, which means “peek into the kitchen” in the lower German language. From my high sixth floor it was possible to look into the kitchens of the residences in the vicinity or at the activities of the enemy in their “kitchen” or their initial positions, for example on Tõnismägi.
I had my more serious challenge during the Livonian War, when the troops of Ivan the Terrible besieged the city and bombarded me with stones and bullets from the current location of the Charles’ Church from January until March 1577. The chronicler Balthasar Russow describes how the enemy fired at the tower by day as well as at night but was not able to cause great damage to it. My body, with the erection of the bastions, remained in the ground to the extent of about 12 metres. I lost my military importance in the second half of the 18th century and became state property. Gunpowder vats were also stored here amongst other equipment and then I was named the Gunpowder Tower.
In the first half of the 19th century there was an ice cellar in the lower floor. The Tsar Alexander II gave me to the Charles congregation and at that time rooms were rented here by the strength athletics club, the archive depository and others. In the 1880s, it was considered whether I should be converted into the water tower of Toompea. Discussions started taking place in the 1930s about the possibility of adapting me into the war museum. The Finnish-Estonian author Aino Kallas then desperately wanted to come and live here. In 1958, I was given to the City Museum. During the Soviet period, there were exciting photo exhibitions here, so I was also called the photo tower. Currently I form the Museum of Fortifications with the neighbouring towers. You can pass along the wall walkway from here, through the Maiden Tower and Stable Tower, to the Short Leg Gate Tower – and vice versa too. It is the longest wall walk of the city!