No. 42



White Hall of Toompea Palace Shaping the History of Estonia

09 December 2020


RiTo No. 42, 2020

  • Jaak Juske

    Member of the Riigikogu, Social Democratic Party

The most important room in the Government Building of the Province of Estonia or Toompea Palace, which was built during the reign of Catherine II 250 years ago, is the White Hall.

It got its present name and appearance during the reconstruction works in 1935. During the last one hundred years, the White Hall has been a very important place for the statehood of Estonia. Several decisions that changed history have been made here.

On 28 November (O.S. 15 November) 1917, the Estonian Provincial Assembly held its historical sitting in the White Hall and adopted a resolution with which it declared itself the highest authority in Estonia until the Constituent Assembly, that was to be elected, decided the future government of Estonia. This paved way for the final declaration of independence three months later.

The Estonian Constituent Assembly convened in the Estonia Concert Hall in April 1919 and later held its sittings in the White Hall, where it passed the Land Reform Act on10 October. This Act ended the time of manors in Estonia. The main task of the 120-member Constituent Assembly was drafting the first Constitution for the young Republic of Estonia. The Constitution was adopted in the White Hall on 15 June 1920. The Constituent Assembly ended its work in December that year, handing its functions over to the first Riigikogu.

From 4 January 1921, the Riigikogu held its sittings in the White Hall. The Riigikogu Building and the Session Hall were still being built, they were completed in autumn 1922.

Both before World War II and after the restoration of independence, the executive power, the Government of the Republic, held its sittings in the White Hall. The last sitting of the Government in Toompea Castle was held on 1 August 2000 and chaired by Prime Minister Mart Laar. Then the Government moved to the newly renovated Stenbock House.

After the Government moved out, the White Hall became a place for holding the formal events organised by the Riigikogu, and it is used as such today.