Photo
Tiit Veermäe
Before After

Sauna Tower

I was built between 1371 and 1372 as a small turret and until 1422 I, along with a section of wall, belonged to the Mihkli convent of the Cistercian Order.

The Mihkli convent was for noblewomen – widows and unmarried girls – which according to a lovely legend, was founded based on a vision that the Danish king Erik had in a dream, where “even in summer, snow can be found”.

For a long time, the convent was outside the city walls and was surrounded by its own fence, but a new city wall was built with special instruction from the knight Jens Kanne, a representative of the king, to include the convent. True, the convent had to build the wall and towers with its own workforce. This did not mean that the nuns themselves had to lay the stones. The con- vent had its own property and lands, and from their accounts, all the requisite resources were found to build the defensive structures. The Cistercian monks were truly great builders, but the nuns still do the traditional women’s handiwork. And yes, it’s said that the nuns here would occasionally hold revels in the evenings, even with men there!

Earlier yet, in the 13th century, the convent above me had a 3.5 metre-high wall around it and a women’s sauna stood nearby. This is where my name comes from. In 1422 the stone part
of my structure reached a height of 12 metres. In those days the nuns came into sharp conflict with the city council because the women’s sauna got in the way of the defensive street, and the lords of the council demanded that it be demolished. The master of the Order himself had to intervene! In the end, the old sauna was still destroyed, and the nuns had to find other ways to wash themselves.

In the 19th century, my upper part was already in ruins. It was demolished before its renovation in 1898. When it was re- constructed, it was modelled after the example of the nearby Tower behind Nuns.

Construction history. Built in 1371–1372 as a small turret, raised and modernised along with the wall in 1380 and 1422, when the stone portion of the tower reached a height of 12 metres. Its final form in the middle age was achieved in the mid- 15th century during the course of renovat– ing the city’s defensive towers. The only remaining part of the original medieval tower is its base.