Tiit Veermäe
Before After

Three Monks

The sculptures of the monks in the Danish King’s Garden allude to the stories and legends associated with this historically significant yard and liven up the area for both the residents and visitors. Simson von Seakyll (Aivar Simson) and Paul Männi’s work Three was born in the course of the idea competition organised by the city and executed in the autumn of 2015 with financing from Kapitel. Three 2.5-metre bronze statues are standing in the Danish King’s Garden: Expectant Monk Ambrosius, Praying Monk Bartholomeus, and Watchful Monk Claudius. The sculpture installation is completed by a lighting solution and information board on the city wall.

The garden, which was called Short Hill (mons brevi) in the oldest records and which extends from the side of Tall Hill (mons longhi) or what is now called Toompea, was also called Marstall or Work Yard during the middle ages. Established in the 19th century (as a private holding), it was known as the Nestler, Liemann, and Sievers garden. Later, the name, “King’s Garden”, came into use and now it is known as the “Danish King’s Garden”.

Many strange stories can be told from here, since the end of the 18th century when the towers surrounding this garden area began to be converted for the use as living quarters. Based on these stories, this area could claim to be the most haunted place in the city. Although Tallitower has the oldest ghost stories, the most frequent subject of haunting accounts is the gate tower at Short Leg, where living quarters have remained for over a century. The most popular ghost was a monk or several monks at a time. Usually, the monk appears as a giant figure of light and other times as a provider of admonishing or inspiring messages. The last time that the monk was seen was in the mid-1980s during the Old Town days when the Polish were restoring the medieval shape of the tower.

Cultural historian, Jüri Kuuskemaa, often talks about a resident of the tower named Arnold Kallas who once saw four monks dancing at the same time. Based on that story, the sculpture was made not of four but of three monks. It was considered that the monk or black monk’s name was Justinus. The sculptors, Paul Männ and Aivar Simson (known collectively as Seaküla Simsoni), named the sculpture Ambrosius, Bartholomeus, and Claudius.

In his time as a resident, the director of the ancient music group Hortus Musicus, Andres Mustonen, had the building consecrated and cleansed of its spirits. Perhaps that is why they no longer appear. However, since the gate tower connects the upper city of Toompea with the lower city, some consider that the power games have created a standoff. They have sometimes been so intense that the monks have had to return to pray again.