Viljandi Travel Guide

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Population: 20 756 (2000. a census)
Area: 14,6 km²
Location : South-Estonia, the uplands of Sakala. From Viljandi to Tallinn - 161 km, to Tartu 81 km, to Pärnu 97 km.

History:1154 Arabian geographer, Abu-Abdallah-Muhammad al-Idrisi mentioned the ancient Viljandi stronghold for the first time in written sources. It figures under the name of Falamus in the commentaries to the world atlas ordered by the King of Sicily, Roger II

1211 The first siege of the ancient stronghold of Viljandi by the joint forces of Germans, Latvian and Livs. The besiegers could not conquer the stronghold but in accordance with the agreement the priests were let in the stronghold. They besprinkled the houses with holy water and carried through catechesis.

1223 On January 29 Estonians rebelled against the Germans who in accordance with the agreement had meantime settled in the stronghold. Partly the knights and the merchants who had gathered in the church for Sunday mass, were killed, partly imprisoned.

1223 In August the 8,000 strong army under Lippe Bernard sieged Viljandi. After a two-week siege the defenders succumbed to thirst and an outbreak of plaque. The soldiers of the Russian unit who had come to assist Estonians, were hung.

1224 The Master of the Order of the Knights of Sword, Volquin, gave an order to construct stone reinforcements on the site of the ancient stronghold.

1346 Viljandi was mentioned in the papers of the Hanseatic League for the first time. The letter of Hanseatic merchants was sent to the Council of the City of Tallinn about the contract with Novgorod. Very likely Viljandi joined the Hanseatic League in the second half of the 14th century. Viljandi located at the crossroads of trade routes had an important role as transit town in the routes Pärnu - Viljandi - Tartu - Novgorod and Riga - Viljandi - Tartu - Novgorod.

1350-1400 More than 50 celebrations of Livonian towns were held, some of them were in Viljandi as well.

1560 During the Livonian War the Russian army under the prince Kurbski laid siege to the castle and the town. After the prolonged siege the Russians conquered the town. The castle had to surrender due to the treachery of the mercenaries. The commandant of the castle, Wilhelm Fürstenberg, was imprisoned in Viljandi and taken to Russia.

1610 The Polish priest, Dionysius Fabricius, who stayed in Viljandi wrote in his Chronicles: “ They say that the devil himself guards the ruins of Viljandi and crows as a cock. There is nothing to be amazed at, as everything is completely destroyed so that neither the stronghold nor the town are not the places for human beings to live any more, then the devil has found a suitable place for himself.

1624 Gustav II Adolf , king of Sweden, donated the castle and the land belonging to it to Jacob De la Gardie. As a result of this legal statement, the town lost its town bylaws that had been fixed by Polish kings.

1765 A great fire in Viljandi.

1878 C. R. Jakobson began to publish the newspaper “Sakala” in Viljandi. Soon it was the most popular newspaper of Estonians. The archaeological excavations began in the ruins of the castle under the supervision of the history teacher of the District Gymnasium, Theodor Schiemann. Next year the excavations were carried on.

1894 A great fire occurred in the central part of Viljandi. A lot of wooden houses were ruined in fire.

1918 On February 24 they proclaimed the formation of the Estonian Republic. On February 25 the German army occupied Viljandi. The area of Viljandi was 91 hectars and 60 hectars from the territory was covered with buildings.

1920 The theatre “Ugala” was established in Viljandi. The first performance was a comedy “The Boardinghouse Schöller” by W. Jakobi. On July 17th there was a finishing performance of the summer courses of the theatre. It was “Salome” by Oscar Wilde and at the same time it was the first professional open-air play in Estonia. The Joint Stock Company “Alko” was founded in Viljandi. At first they made only liqueurs but from the year of 1921 they produced wines and sparkling wines as well.

1924 The so-called Crow’s Bridge was built in the castle park.

1940 The beginning of the Soviet Occupation. On June 17 Estonia and Viljandi were occupied by the Soviet Army. On June 21 the overturn took place.

More information about Viljandi can be found on the official tourist information website of Estonia (


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