Infobox Settlement
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = EST
subdivision_type1 =

image_shield=Rakvere vapp.svg
subdivision_name1=Lääne-Viru County
leader_name=Andres Jaadla
coor=59°21' N 26°21' E

Rakvere ( _de. Wesenberg or "Wesenbergh") is a town in northern Estonia and the county seat of Lääne-Viru County, 20 km south of the Gulf of Finland.


The earliest signs of human settlement dating back to the 3rd-5th centuries AD have been found on the present theatre hill. Probably to protect that settlement, a wooden stronghold was built on the present Vallimägi. When it changed owners in 1220, the Danes started to erect buildings from stone. A settlement called "Tarvanpea" was first mentioned in the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia in 1226. The new Danish stronghold was called "Wesenbergh" in Middle Low German for the first time in 1252. The Battle of Rakovor between the Danish and German knights and Russians occurred nearby in 18 February 1268.

On 12 June 1302, Rakvere was granted Lübeck rights. When the Danish king sold Danish Estonia to the Livonian Order in 1346, a large castle was built on top of the previous stronghold. The Ordensburg was protected by towers and courtyards. The building of a Franciscan monastery was started in 1508.

During the Livonian War from 1558-1581, Rakvere was under Russian rule and was heavily damaged. Sweden ruled over the town briefly before it passed to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1602; Poles destroyed the castle in 1605. After being returned to Swedish control in that year, a mansion was built on the ruins of the monastery. During the Great Northern War, Rakvere was burned down in 1703. With the Treaty of Nystad, Rakvere passed to the Russian Empire, where it remained until Estonia's independence in 1918 following World War I.

During the first period of independence many prominent buildings were built, such as the market building, the old bank building (current SEB Eesti Ühispank), and Rakvere Gymnasium. In 1930 the town stadium was opened. Local newspapers started to emerge, including the county paper "Virumaa Teataja", which was first published in 1925. The idea of Rakvere's own professional theatre started to take shape as well. The construction of the theatre house was completed at the end of the 1930s and it was festively opened on 24 February 1940. The theatre survived World War II and is active to this day.

Tarvas statue

Rakvere is also known now for its Tarvas statue of an aurochs, which was made by the Estonian sculptor Tauno Kangro. It is thought to be the largest animal statue in the Baltic countries.

It is situated on the edge of Vallimägi hill and was erected for the town's 700th birthday. Along with the granite block it sits on, the statue is seven meters long, four meters high and weighs about seven tons.

The statue is made out of bronze. The names of the companies and private people who financed it are engraved in the granite block.

Friendship towns

* Lapua, Finland
* Lappeenranta, Finland
* Cesis, Latvia
* Panevėžys, Lithuania
* Sigtuna, Sweden
* Lütjenburg, Germany
* Senaki, Georgia

External links

* [http://www.rakvere.ee/index?lang=eng Official website]
* [http://www.visitestonia.com/index.php?page=11&action=show_search&database=2&search=true&text=rakvere&region=0&county=0&type=0 Things to see in Rakvere]
* [http://www.k55.ee/rakvere/ Photos of Rakvere in the night by Kaiko Lipsmäe]

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