Bischofsburg Warbeck (Uue-Kastre)

Warbeck is another one of the castles on the Suur Emajõgi which I have managed to go past. Further downstream from the castle at Vana-Kastre, this place served a similar purpose in hopefully deterring would-be pirates and raiders while also acting as a toll station for any traders wanting to engage with the economic centre of the Bishopric of Dorpat.

The rebuilt castle…

The castle doesn’t survive though earthworks and some masonry does with the final destruction of the place having occurred in the 18th century. Most of the stonework originally used for a military purpose has been reworked into a nature centre, with a brief interlude of a few centuries as a travellers’ tavern. The moat dug around the centre of the castle is clearly visible and still water-filled, probably due to being connected to the river.

I have to say that I originally missed the connection of the moat and the castle to the structure above and only figured it out after a bit of trampling about the site. It was a wonderful realisation as very few of the “destroyed” castles here have such visible signs remaining of themselves.

It is thought that this castle was founded after 1342, but our historical knowledge is very scarce. In reality, the appreciation of the location here gives more to me than the few facts that documents have brought down to us. As such, I would recommend walking downstream from the river as that is a possibility along some of the nature trails (though not for too long). One find that the place this castle is at is nearly the first dry land (as opposed to marshland) coming upstream from Lake Peipsi, and this gives added significance to the castle’s positioning.

The upstream approach to the castle

This formidable positioning would have made it an important approach-point to Tartu for any enemy wishing to utilise the river though I don’t know if they had armament decent enough to prevent ships from passing if they so wished. I wouldn’t be surprised if a chain tower of some kind had existed though this has no proof whatsoever from what I have read. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t have liked to come against this place when it was in full strength.

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