The Great Guild Hall is one of the most distinguished public buildings of medieval Tallinn. The Gothic-style building, completed in 1410, was built on what was then the main street, and near the Town Hall.
It was commissioned by the Great Guild, the association of Hanseatic merchants. Over the centuries a variety of events have been held in the Great Guild Hall, ranging from grand parties to church services and court proceedings.
In the Middle Ages the cellar was used for storing wine, and in the 19th and 20th centuries the popular wine cellar known as Das Süsse Loch ("Sweet Hole") operated there. During the 19th century the building, then known as the Stock Exchange, was used not only for business but also as a lively arts venue.
The Great Guild Hall has housed the Estonian History Museum since 1952.
In 2010–2011 the building underwent thorough restoration and refurbishing.
The European Regional Development Fund and the Estonian Ministry of Culture, with the help of Enterprise Estonia, financed the construction work and the renewal of the permanent exhibition. The project started in April 2009 and culminated in May 2011.
The interior design and new permanent exhibition were completed as a collaborative project involving the Estonian History Museum, OÜ KOKO Arhitektid and OÜ Produktsioonigrupp. The architectural design was completed by OÜ Restor, and OÜ Tarrest Ehitus was responsible for the construction work.
The history of Tallinn's Great Guild Hall is closely linked to the history of trade and cultural developments in medieval northern Europe. The Great Guild of Tallinn merchants was the most important organization in the city for centuries. The
Great Guild's history of interactions with Hanseatic League reveals the intriguing story of
European “integration” in medieval times. In 2013 the Great Guild Hall was awarded the European Heritage Label.
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