Tiit Veermäe

Three Monks


The monk sculptures standing in the King of Denmark Garden reference the stories and legends of the historically important courtyard and enliven the area. The work “Three” by Simson von Seakyll (Aivar Simson) and Paul Mänd was born in 2011 in the framework of a design competition, organised by the city and executed in the autumn of 2015 with the financing of Kapitel. Three bronze monks with a height of 2.5 metres are standing in the King of Denmark Garden: Ambrosius the “Waiting Monk”, Bartholomeus the “Praying Monk” and Claudius, the “Observing Monk”. The statues are supplemented by a light solution and an information board on the city wall.

The garden that was called the short hill (mons brevis) in the oldest writings and that protruded from the long hill (mons longhi) as a horn or from the present Toompea, has also borne the name of the Marstall or Work Yard Hill, as well as in the 19th century, already as privatised, the names Nestler, Liemann and Sievers Garden. Later, the name King’s Garden and today the King of Denmark Garden. Many strange stories are known from the end of the 18th century when the towers surrounding the garden were started to be adapted into residences. On this basis, the area can be considered the most plentiful seat of ghosts in the city. The Stable Tower can be considered the oldest ghost tower in the city, while the most ghost stories have been collected from the Gate Tower of the Short Leg, where throughout more than a century, residential apartments were located. The most widespread ghost has been a monk or even several monks at once. The monk has usually appeared as a giant body of light, sometimes praying, as well as sometimes forwarding messages of warning and world improvement. The last time the monk was seen was in the middle of the 1980s during the Old Town Days, when the Polish were restoring the medieval form of the gate tower. Jüri Kuuskemaa, a cultural historian, knows to talk about the tower inhabitant Arnold Kallas who once even saw as many as four monks dancing at the same time. It is indeed based on this that the sculptures of three monks, though not four, were created. The name of the monk or the black monk has previously been assumed as Justinus.

Andres Mustonen, the leader of the early music ensemble Hortus Musicus which is based in the Gate Tower, had the building blessed at one time and perhaps therefore, ghosts have no longer appeared in recent times. Historically, however, the Gate Tower connects the upper town Toompea with the Old Town, then it is thought that power games create confrontations. And sometimes so fierce that the monks must return again to pray.

It is now worthwhile to continue through the Gate Tower of the Short Leg directly to the Long Leg Street and head lower to the Old Town. The grand palaces of the nobles look down to here from the heights of Toompea.