Narva city

Narva - museum of defensive architectural art

Throughout the course of time, the history of Narva has seen the mightiest European Powers permanently struggling to get hold over her. At various times the hosts of Narva were Denmark, the Knights of the Germanic Order, Sweden, and Russia. Very often military engagements took place in Narva's environs. That is why the town had always been a fortress.

The fortification of Narva began in the 70's of the XIII century when the Danes laid down Narva Castle on a steep bank of the river. In the middle of the XIV century it passed to the Knights of the Germanic Order and was reconstructed into a type of fortification known as "House of the Convent," which was typical for the military architecture of the Order. The Castle acquired its finished look in the beginning of the XV century during the course of its military and architectural rivalry with Russia's Ivangorod Fortress. The architectural appearance of the Castle is characterized by a mighty tower (more than 50 meters in height) that has the name of Pikk Hermann (i.e. Tall Herman).

At the end of the XIV century the surrounding town wall was constructed and then fortified with towers. In the XV-XVI centuries, modernization of Narva's fortifications was under way because firearms had come into use. Due to this, the castle's medieval towers were reconstructed into artillery-fitted roundel towers. The Swedes were most active in improving Narva Castle in XVII century. In the first half of the century they constructed bastions of Italian and German types, whereas in the 80's of the XVII century they got involved in the grandiose construction of a new defensive line. This consisted of French-type bastions designed by the prominent Swedish military engineer and architect, Eric Dalberg. In this way, the fortification system of Narva Castle was finally formed. and essentially was preserved without any changes until the mid-XIX century.

At present, the defensive and engineering works of Narva have no equal either in diversity or in state of preservation. Together with Ivangorod Fortress they form an historic architectural ensemble of European importance.

The most significant historic action related to Narva took place on November 19th, 1700. This is the well-known "Battle of Narva" during the Great Northern War. It was at this time that military forces from Sweden, led by the young King Carl XII, defeated the Russian army headed by Czar Peter I (whose forces were greater than those of the Swedes). This victory in Narva made Carl XII famous as a talented commander of his army. Yet the battle had been meaningful not only for Sweden, but for Russia as well, since it was the first battle held by the Russian regular army. The topography of the historic field of battle can still be recognized at the present time.

Then in 1704, the name of Narva rang out over the field of battle once again. This is when forces of Peter I stormed Narva Castle and captured it from the Swedes. The sites of these battles fought during the Great Northern War are marked with various monuments in the area surrounding Narva Castle.

Added 14.07.2008, 13:43
Changed 14.07.2008, 13:46

previous next