The Patkuli Steps
Many glances are at first directed to this location, to the pillars of the Stenbock Building, then the stairs, in addition to being a beautiful sight, offer the experience of participation to those who make the only justifiable decision to climb. After all, the Stenbock Building has since long ago, been the house of the Government – so only those selected have access to it. I was completed in the year 1903. Strolling was popular at the beginning of the 20th century, as it was possible in such a way to see others and show of oneself, as well as enjoy “Oh those views, those views!”.
The possibility to climb up to the viewing platform and admire the view, opening up to 180 degrees to the city and the sea, became an attraction for tourists. There was no Instagram, Facebook or even television or radio in those times. There were 157 steps that led from the start of Nunne Street to the viewing platform of Toompea.
There is not much to remind us about this today, but there were once heavy discussions about my name. Some thought that I had been named after the great traitor of the Swedish state, Johan Patkul. My name actually derives from an earthen fortification in the vicinity, from the Patkul Redoubt that had received its name from a completely separate character after the vice governor Dietrich Friedrich von Patkul, from the Swedish period. In the Estonian period, it was decided that his name was also not worthy of commemoration, as he had commanded that Tallinn’s suburbs should be burned during the Northern War, prior to the arrival of the Russians, which caused the city to become overpopulated and the plague become more widespread. This became fatal during the northern war, as the city surrendered and fell into the hands of the Russian troops. According to memory, the Patkul viewing platform, erected in the yard of a former noble’s home has repeatedly been visited during the periods of occupation to gaze towards the sea and yearn for signs of freedom.
The first thing that comes into sight when you stand at the base of the stairs and follow the curves of the stair corridor up to Toompea, is, of course, the building of the Government of the Republic with its grand pillars. It was built from 1787 to 1792 as the city residence of Count Jakob Pontus Stenbock. The building has later had many owners and housed the Toomkooli Dormitory, as well as also housing the courthouse for many years.