Gunpowder Cellar’s history reaches back more than 300 years

Read about the Gunpowder Cellar’s history and browse photos


1700-1721– The Great Northern War which brought along a significant change for Estonia in general as well as for Tartu. 
1763 – Fortification of Tartu begins again under the orders of Empress Catherine II of Russia. It was decided that a gunpowder magazine be built in the location of the former city moat; the moat’s thick and strong walls made perfect walls for the magazine.

1768 – Field-Marshal General de Villebois’s Engineer Commando begins construction work on the gunpowder magazine. The bricks are brought from the old St. Mary’s Church (about the current location of Tartu University’s Main Building) and from the ruins of the bishop’s fortress on Toome Hill.
1778 – construction on the Gunpowder Cellar is complete. This building with its interior height of 11 metres is the only building constructed by Tartu Engineer Commando that is still standing today.
1800 – Emperor Paul I gives Toome Hill with all the buildings to the University of Tartu.
1809 – The last 12 tons of gunpowder remaining in the magazine are finally removed to Narva after a long correspondence between the Tartu City Council, Governor General and the Riga Plenipotentiary of the War Minister.

1817 – University carriages, fire-fighting equipment and building materials are kept in the magazine.
1827 – A rental contract is signed with J.R. Schramm, an entrepreneur whose company will use the magazine as a beer storage facility for 69 years.
1896 – The University uses the premises for research – a horizontal pendulum is placed here on Professor Lewitzky’s initiative to observe earthquakes and magnetic phenomena. 
1915 – The cellar is used as the student kitchen’s storage room; after World War II the premises are used as a vegetable warehouse for quite a long period.

In the early 1960s archaeological excavations are carried out here and a reconstruction project is prepared in order to for the former gunpowder magazine to be made suitable for public use

1960 – aastakümne algul viidi siin läbi arheoloogilisi kaevamisi ja valmistati ette püssirohukeldri rekonstrueerimise projekt, et ehitist avalikku kasutusse võtta.
1982 – A popular café and restaurant opens and remains in operation till 1999.

2000 – After lengthy restoration and construction activities the Gunpowder Cellar (one of Tartu’s legendary restaurants) opens its doors in November, this time as a beer restaurant.
2022 – You are reading this text about the oldest beer restaurant in Tartu – visit us kohale and experience history.



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