From the depths of history, the 14th century, I have been called Meghede Tower, which probably comes from the name of the building master Hinze Meghede, which in the rural dialect is a word for “mountain”.
I was, after all, erected on the so-called “short mountain” (mons brevis), right next to the “Tall mountain” (mons longhi) or what would come to be known as Toompea.
The name “Maiden Tower” didn’t start to spread until the 19th century, when the Baltic German historians gave me a name that was a bit less of a mouthful – Magde or Mädchen, meaning the servant girl’s tower.
I am the only defensive tower in the city with a quadrilateral main layout whose back is open, that is, without a fourth wall. Currently, there are walls of glass there as windows. I am probably the most frequently re-engineered tower in the whole city! From a three-floor tower to a four-floored defen- sive tower with a roof. Then back to a two-storey residence as the crown of the largest and most beautiful garden in the lower town, then finally back to a medieval tower.
As a residence, I didn’t look at all like a tower when viewed from the city, rather like a giant cake with my classic extend- ing half-circle facade and large windows. All sorts of impor- tant people lived here: the railway importer and therefore bringer of modern city life, the Baron Alexander von Pahlen and also many artists. One of the last to live on the second floor was Karl Burman, our first architect and watercolourist. It was according to his drawings that just nearby, the large Nevski Cathedral, that symbol of Russification and the Czar’s power, was to be demolished in the time of the first Repub- lic. But that was not to be, and in the 1970’s it was actually my living quarters that were demolished and I was restored as a medieval tower. I became more widely known when the Maiden Tower Cafe was opened here in 1980.
It’s said that this tower is also haunted – an old man dressed in black and a girl who is said to have been buried alive within these walls! There are all kinds of stories, even that in the Swedish times this tower was used as a prison for prostitutes. One of the inmates, an ugly woman, is said to have made a deal with the Devil and thereafter became very popular among the clients, until she was finally burned as a witch. This is most likely not a true story.
Construction history. The tower was built by the city with arched niches between the wall probably in the 1360s. In the mid-15th century, the fourth floor was added, and a roof and the tower achieved its present visible height.