Reval - Encyclopedia

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REVAL, or Revel (Russ. Revel, formerly Kolyvan; Esthonian, Tallina and Tannilin), a fortified seaport town of Russia, capital of Esthonia, situated on a bay on the S. coast of the gulf of Finland, 230 m. W. of St Petersburg by rail. Pop. (1900) 66,292, of whom half were Esthonians and 30% Germans. The city consists of two parts-the Domberg or Dom, which occupies a hill, and the lower town on the beach. The Dom contains the castle (first built in the 13th century, rebuilt in 1772), where the provincial administration has its seat, and a cathedral (1894-1900) with five gilded domes. It has its own administration, separate from that of the lower town. The church of St Nicholas, built in 1317, contains many antiquities of the former Roman Catholic times and old German paintings. The Dom church contains many interesting shields, as also the graves of the circumnavigator Baron A. J. von Krusenstern (1770-1846), of the Swedish soldiers Pontus de la Gardie (d. 1585) and Carl Horn (d. 1601), and of the Bohemian Protestant leader Count Matthias von Thurn (1580-1640). The church of St Olai, first erected in 1240, and often rebuilt, was completed in 1840 in Gothic style; it has a bell tower 456 ft. high. The oldest church is the Esthonian, built in 1219. The public institutions include a good provincial museum of antiquities; an imperial palace, Katharinenthal, built by Peter the Great in 1719; and very valuable archives, preserved in the town hall (14th century). The pleasant situation of the town attracts thousands of people for seabathing. It is the seat of a branch board of the Russian admiralty and of the administration of the Baltic lighthouses. Its port has a depth of 4 to 6 fathoms, and a roadstead 32 m. wide, which freezes nearly every winter. The exports consist chiefly of grain, timber, flax, hides, wool, a species of anchovy, and hemp, and the imports of manufactured goods and machinery. The value of the aggregate trade amounts to an average of seven to nine millions sterling annually. There is considerable trade with Finland. Baltic Port, 30 m. W., is a sort of annex to the port of Reval.

The high Silurian crag now known as Domberg was early occupied by an Esthonian fort, Lindanissa. In 1219 the Danish king Valdemar II. erected here a strong castle and founded the first church. In 1228 the castle was taken by the Livonian Knights, but nine years later it returned to the Danes. About the same time Lubeck and Bremen merchants settled there, and their settlement became an important seaport of the Hanseatic League. It was fortified early in the 14th century, and in 1343 sustained a siege by the revolted Esthonians. Valdemar III. sold Reval and Esthonia to the Teutonic Knights in 1346, but on the dissolution of the order, in 1561, Esthonia and Reval surrendered to the Swedish king Erik XIV. A great conflagration in 1433, the pestilence of 1532, the bombardment by the Danes in 1569, and the Russo-Livonian War, destroyed its trade. The Russians besieged Reval twice, in 1570 and 1577. It was still an important fortress, having been enlarged and fortified by the Swedes. In 1710 it was surrendered to Peter the Great, who immediately began the erection of a military port for his Baltic fleet. His successors continued to fortify the access to Reval from the sea, large works being undertaken, especially in the early years of the 19th century.

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