Põltsamaa Castle


Lossi 1, Põltsamaa, Estonia


8100 m²


Põltsamaa Vallavara OÜ

Architecture and Interior Architecture



studio ARGUS, Pult and LUMIA

Landscape Architecture

studio ARGUS, Artes Terrae and LUMIA


Margit Argus, Eliise Harjak, Elo Liina Kaivo, Birte Böer, Artur Ümar, Margit Aule


Completed in 2023


2023 Annual Grand Prize of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (Architecture Endowment)

2023 Annual Award of the Estonian National Heritage Board for the ‘Act of the Year’

The Põltsamaa castle complex encompasses various key components, each with its unique history and purpose. Together, these structures form one of Estonia’s most significant architectural ensembles.

At the heart of this complex is the convent building, which dates to the castle’s original construction in 1272. Over time, it underwent several transformations, including when it served as the residence of the King of Livonia, Magnus, from 1570 to 1578. This led to the conversion of the old convent building into living and representative rooms. Despite facing repeated plundering, the fortress endured and was eventually rebuilt into a magnificent Rococo-style palace in the 18th century, thanks to the vision of Woldemar Johann von Lauw. Tragically, in 1941, fire consumed both the castle and the church, leaving the castle mostly in ruins.

Efforts to restore the castle complex involved meticulous preservation and restoration work on the convent building. The walls of this historic structure were preserved and roofed, and the tower dome was carefully restored. A distinctive feature is the uniquely designed concrete staircase, which provides an open and airy experience while offering spectacular views through the historical seven-story tower. At the tower’s zenith, a new steel dome with a viewing platform was erected, reminiscent of the historical dome. The architectural additions in this area distinguish themselves from the old with their grey steel tone, creating a harmonious contrast against the backdrop of grey limestone and red brick. The natural wood tones of the roof structures add warmth to the buildings, and the new parts, designed with utmost simplicity, blend seamlessly with the dignified old architecture.

Another integral part of the castle complex is the gatehouse, which stood in ruins for an extended period. This structure has been transformed into a modern visitor centre and museum, providing a new phase in its rich history. The museum boasts an impressive 800 square metres of space and includes an information centre with a ticket office, a souvenir shop, restrooms, a cloakroom, and an office. Five distinct exhibition rooms tell the captivating story of the castle complex and serve as versatile venues for various events. Notably, a spacious hall with elevated lounge chairs and a small kitchen cater to movie screenings, seminars, and other gatherings. The upper floor’s open floor plan allows for views and access to the gallery, which can be linked to a future passageway along the castle’s ring wall. The design of the gatehouse carefully incorporates materials like wood, steel, and concrete, highlighting the historical walls and emphasising the importance of the exhibition.

The courtyard and open-air stage within the castle complex have also undergone redesigns, enhancing the overall visitor experience. The exterior stage features profiled zinc sheeting and greyish wood, while circular green islands in the courtyard contrast the otherwise structured and strict castle complex layout.

Historically, these buildings were interconnected through defensive passages, and plans for renovating the castle complex include opening the circular walls to visitors, providing a deeper connection to the complex’s rich history.