After leaving Lahemaa National Park in mid August, I drove across the north part of Estonia to visit Hermann Castle in Narva, which sits right on the board with Russia. It was two hours out of my way, but boy am I glad I did.
The history of Hermann Castle started in the 13th century by the Danes who had conquered Northern Estonia and built a wooden stronghold at the Narva River and the old road that crossed it due to conflicts with the Russians across the river. In the beginning of the 14th century they started building the stronghold out of stone. By the middle of the century a large courtyard was added where citizens were allowed to hide in case of wars as the town of Narva was not surrounded by a wall. In 1347 Denmark sold Northern Estonia to the Livonian Order who rebuilt parts of the castle including the tower. This was done was done because of the establishment of Ivangorod Castle by the Russians on the opposite side of the Narva River in 1492.
The two things I liked most about Hermann Castle was, first, the large white tower. It was unique being square and of such a large footprint all the way up. It seems like this is were the nobility lived (there was even a water closet). Once you reached the top of the tower you had a commanding view below, but you were withing a wooden walkway (I presume to protect them form the weather and arrows).
All and all the tower was great, but what I liked even more is the unique thing Hermann Castle does. When you pay your entrance fee they give you a replica of a historic coin for the town. Like many recreations I have visited, you can visit one of the 4-5 craft shops in the courtyard and watch as the blacksmith makes metal things, the potter makes pottery, the apothecary dispenses drugs, etc. But unlike other places, here you can buy a souvenir from the craftsmen with your coin. I ended up getting a ceramic fish since I was told that is the symbol of the town. How cool of an idea is that for tourist?