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History of Tartu

Linnavolikogu ja -valitsuse info
Raekoda I k
736 1101

A brief history

Ca 600 AD On the east side of Toome Hill (Toomemägi) the Estonians erected a fortress - Tarbatu. It was located in approximately the same area where the Astronomical Observatory now stands.


1030 The Kievan prince, Jaroslav the Wise, raids Tarbatu and builds his own fort in this place, which went by the name of Jurjev. The description of these events in an Ancient Russian chronicle is the first mention of Tartu in written sources.


1061 Estonians retook the castle.


1224 The German Brethren of the Sword captured Tartu. Tartu became a bishopric.


1234 The first stone fortress was started on Toomemägi (Toome Hill)


1262 he army of Prince Dmitri of Novgorod (the son of the famous Alexander Nevski) launches an assault on Tartu, capturing and destroying it. However the Russians do not manage to capture the Bishop’s Fortress on Toome Hill.After the destruction a stone wall is built around the lower- town of Tartu, stretching for a total of about two kilometers. The destruction wrought by the Russians is recorded in Russian and German chronicles, which also provide us with the first word that alongside the Bishop’s Fortress, a settlement of German merchants and artisans had arisen.

1280’s Tartu joined the Hanseatic League. In medieval times Tartu was an important merchant town.

1525 The German Lutheran reformation reaches Tartu accompanied by surprisingly violent stripping of the churches (the furnishings of the Diocesan Cathedral on Toome Hill are also destroyed). Crowds even make preparations to attack the bishop’s residence.

Before the Livonian War (1558-1583) the population of Tartu was about 6000.

1558 the armies of Tsar Ivan the Terrible attack at the start of the Livonian War. The town and bishop’s palace surrender without resistance to the Russians. The Bishop of Tartu is taken to Moscow and imprisoned there. It is the end of the Bishopric of Tartu and others medieval Livonian minor states. In the course of the next few years Poland, Sweden and Denmark enter the conflict for the access to the Old Livonia.

1582 The Jam Zapolski Peace Treaty. Tartu became part of the Polish-Lithuanian area.

1583 A Jesuit residence was established in Tartu. The Polish king Stefan Bathory gave Tartu its red and white flag.

1600-1629 The Swedish - Polish war for Livonia

1600-1603 Tartu was in the hands of the Swedish king.

1603-1625 Tartu fell to the Poles.

1625 Tartu changed hands again and became a Swedish possession.

1631 The first Printing House was founded in Tartu.

1632 King Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden founded the University - Academia Gustaviana.

1656-1661 The Swedish-Russian war. The Russians held Tartu in these years.

1684-1688 Near to Tartu the first teachers’ training college in Estonia is established, the so-called ‘Forselius Seminary’.

1704 Tsar Peter the Great personally leads the Russian forces in their conquest of Tartu during the Northern War.

1721 The population of Tartu was as low as 21!

1708, 1763, 1775 Great fires in Tartu. The medieval architecture is comprehensively destroyed, after which Tartu is rebuilt in a late-baroque and classical style.

1789 The population of Tartu was 3421.

1802 The University of Tartu was again opened by permission of the Russian Tsar Aleksander I. The population was about 3500.

1854 The population of Tartu was about 13 000.

The second part of the 19th century. Tartu became the centre of Estonian cultural and national life durning the national awakening of the Estonian people.

1869 The first song Festival was held in Tartu.

1870 The first Estonian national theatre, the ‘Vanemuine’, is established in Tartu. The first original Estonian comedy is performed - Lydia Koidula’s "Saaremaa Cousin".

1872 Founding of the Society of Estonian Writers.

1900 The population of Tartu was more than 40 000.

Viimati muudetud 28.01.2017