House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads

House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads - a building in Tallinn, where the residence of the Brotherhood of Blackheads has been since 1530. Today, this house hosts a variety of events - from guided tours of all the premises of the building to classical music evenings. The neoclassical interior of the house that we see today is the result of a rebuilding in 1908. The house itself and its interior can be inspected independently, without a tour.

Brotherhood of Blackheads

The Brotherhood of Blackheads was founded in 1399. It consisted of young unmarried merchants who were bound by the charter and who obeyed specially developed rules. Getting into the fraternity was not easy, because it was one of the best social elevators of that time for merchants. The Brotherhood called itself that by the name of Saint Maurice. He was a black Christian saint from Africa. Blackheads were known only in Riga and Tallinn, where they gained significant influence.


Initially, the Blackheads rented houses on the streets of Vienna and Kullaseppa, and in 1530 they bought the building that belonged to the chairman of the city magistrate, Johan Viant, and rebuilt it in the Renaissance style. Today this building can be easily found by walking along Pikk Street towards the Sea Gate. On the right side of the street there is a building at number 26 with luxurious sculptural reliefs. The main decoration of the building is the magnificently decorated portal, created in 1597 by the architect and sculptor Arent Passer.

Above the portal, on a stone slab is carved the coat of arms of the Brotherhood - two heraldic lions support a shield depicting the head of St. Mauritius. The house is crowned with a triangular gable edged with volutes (stone curls). On the gable, under the roof itself, there are two allegorical bas-reliefs symbolizing "Peace" and Justice ", and above all this - the image of Jesus Christ.

Between the window openings of the second floor, there are Gothic slabs depicting knights galloping on horses, and on the frieze, between the second and first tiers, there are the coats of arms of the Hanseatic cities, including the heraldic symbol of Russian Novgorod, which was also part of the trade union - Hansa. On the triangular pediments crowning the windows of the first floor, portraits of the Polish monarch Sigismund III and his wife Anna of Austria are carved in stone. Antique furniture and painting,which belonged to the Brotherhood of Blackheads, can be seen in the Tallinn City Museum.

Bachelor Party of the Brotherhood of Blackheads

Once in the House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a drunken bachelor life was seething. In addition to major celebrations, merchants organized so-called pfenning drinking parties every day - they discussed current affairs, played cards, drank beer. The Livonian chronicler Balthazar Russov reports that the Blackheads introduced the custom of putting up a Christmas tree in the Town Hall Square.

Young merchants and girls danced around the tree and then set fire to the spruce so that it burned brightly. Only twice a year - during Easter and Christmas festivities - could new members join the Brotherhood. In 1711, Peter I celebrated Christmas in Tallinn, and, despite the fact that the Russian tsar was already engaged to Catherine, the Blackheads accepted him into their Brotherhood.