Kuninga (King) Street One,
First historical document 1407
The Tallinn high-gabled facades from medieval times developed in 13th and 14th centuries
as wooden dwellings were replaced with stone ones. Kuninga street 1 is documented for the
first time in 1407. There was a dispute with the neighbor about building the vaulted
corridor to the courtyard. The neighbour was opposed to the construction directly attached
to his wall.
Renamed to Bishop’s house
After 1424 Kuninga street 1 belonged to Hans Smid. His son Emert married the Bishop of
Tallinn’s sister. Later around 1460 Emert inherited the Kuninga 1 property. Bishop Euerd
Kalle transferred two Pikk street houses to Emert Smid in 1463. To return the favor Emert
let his brother-in-law use Kuninga 1 property. This is speculation, but from 1481 the
property has been called Bishop’s house. After the great fire of 1433 on Toompea Hill
many dignitaries lived in the lower town section.
Old Chapel construction
The Old Chapel is situated in back of the courtyard. Originally, the chapel had a
vaulted stone ceiling. The stone ceiling has been replaced with a wooden one about 100
years ago. The headstone from the original vaults is a part
of Estonian National museum collection. The carved text says "Int jar 1461 bauwete
Emert Smid de hus"; translated "Emert Smid built this house in 1461". This
is how we know the exact year.The most valuable historical detail is our lime-stone open
fireplace. This is the only surviving medieval gothic style fireplace in the Baltics. It
has been described as a catholic altar or shrine by some historians.
Stable and attic
Horse Stable was situated in the corner of the courtyard on the right to the Old Chapel.
There was a round stone staircase in the stable. It was common to house servants and
stable personnel on top of the stables. The staircase leads to the second floor apartments
and to the attic.
All attic space in a medieval merchant house was dedicated to warehousing of goods. Our
attic has an original winch-wheel that was used to hoist goods to the attic. Attic
winch-wheel doors are common in Tallinn, but complete working rope winch-wheels are rare.
The well known historical novel "Kolme katku vahel" ("Between Three Plagues"/"Uppiniskaisuuden tarina") by Jaan Kross contains several references to our building. The main character, young Balthasar Russow, lives above the stables in the back of the courtyard. He cleans a lime-stone angel figure situated in the current Old Chapel. This angel figure actually existed. According to archived documents it was removed from the chapel during 1966 renovations. Current location is not known.
The history of our building is well documented in F. Amelung: "Revaler Alterthümer", Tallinn 1884.
Transcription in German (Word document)
Our courtyard year 1966
Our courtyard year 2001
Old Chapel in 1966