Town and municipality

View over Rakvere


Coat of arms
Motto: Väge täis (Full of might)

Location in Estonia

Coordinates: 59°21′N 26°21′E / 59.350°N 26.350°E / 59.350; 26.350Coordinates: 59°21′N 26°21′E / 59.350°N 26.350°E / 59.350; 26.350
Country Estonia
County Lääne-Viru County
  Mayor Mihkel Juhkami (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union)
  Total 10.64 km2 (4.11 sq mi)
Elevation 82 m (269 ft)
Population (2013)
  Total 15,264
  Density 1,400/km2 (3,700/sq mi)
  Estonians 88%
  Russians 8%
  other 2.8%
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 44306
Area code(s) (+372) 032
Vehicle registration R
Website www.rakvere.ee

Rakvere (German: 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 Wesenberg between the Danish and German knights and Russians occurred nearby on 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 to 1581, Rakvere was under Russian rule and was heavily damaged. Sweden, after the disastrous Siege of Wesenberg (1574),[1] captured the town in 1581[2] 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 Capitulation of Estonia and Livonia in 1710 and the subsequent Treaty of Nystad in 1721, 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.

Rakvere also has a professional theatre and it is believed that it is the smallest town in Europe which has a professional theatre.[3] Its roots date back to 1882 and it is still active and very popular. The theatre of Rakvere has given Estonia many famous actors and actresses such as Volli Käro, Üllar Saaremäe, Indrek Saar, Ülle Lichtfeldt, Aarne Üksküla etc. It also holds the biannual event Baltoscandal, which gathers avant-garde plays and groups from all over the world.

Main landmarks

Tarvas statue

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 and 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.

Rakvere Trinity church

The Lutheran church of Rakvere, the Trinity church, originally dates from the 15th century and was designed to also be able to function as a stronghold in times of trouble. It was severely damaged during the Livonian War and renovation started only in 1684. During the Great Northern War, the church once more was damaged by fire twice. Renovations were carried out 1727–1730, and again during the middle of the 19th century, when the church received its present look, dominated by its neo-Gothic spire. The interior displays some fine craftsmanship, including a Baroque pulpit from 1690 made by Christian Ackermann.[4]

Twin towns

Rakvere is twinned with nine cities:[5]



Sports clubs

Sports events


  1. Peterson, Gary Dean (2007). Warrior kings of Sweden. The rise of an empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. McFarland. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0-7864-2873-2.
  2. Black, Jeremy (1996). Warfare. Renaissance to revolution, 1492–1792. Cambridge Illustrated Atlases. 2. Cambridge University Press. p. 59. ISBN 0-521-47033-1.
  3. Taul, Gregor. "Turism ja linnamaastikud Pihkvas". Sirp. 22 December 2011. Accessed 4 April 2012. (Estonian)
  4. Viirand, Tiiu (2004). Estonia. Cultural Tourism. Kunst Publishers. p. 129. ISBN 9949-407-18-4.
  5. "Twin Cities". Rakvere. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  6. "INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION". panevezys.lt. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
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