The Raeapteek (Municipal Pharmacy) is in the center of Tallinn (Raekoja plats, 11). Opposite the Town Hall, at house number 11, there is one of the oldest continuously running pharmacies in Europe, having always been in business in the same exact house since the early 15th century. It is also the oldest commercial enterprise and the oldest medical establishment in Tallinn.
In medieval times patients could buy mummy juice (powder made of oversea mummies mixed with liquid), burnt hedgehogs powder, burnt bees, bat powder, snakeskin potion and unicorn horn powder for treatments. Also available were earthworms, swallow’s nests and like various herbs and spirits, distilled at the spot. Food was also sold such as candies, cookies, preserves and marzipan and jellied peel. Spicy cookies called “morsells” were a specialty. The pharmacy also sold paper, ink, sealing-wax, dyes, gunpowder, pellets, spices, candles and torches. When tobacco was brought to Europe and eventually to Estonia, the pharmacy was the first to sell it.
The front door with interwining symbolic snakes made in the 19th century invite the passers-by to the Raeapteek. The snakes, however, hide inside the building for the night time and simple door exteriours are turned outward.
The “Bowl of Hygeia” symbol is the most widely recognized international symbol of pharmacy. Pharmacists must be wise as snakes that are drinking from the cup of wisdom. The cup itself is a symbol of nature. The word 'apoteca' was originally used to refer to a room on the top floor of a building where wine was kept. Later the same word was used to describe all rooms in household were different things were preserved. The word apteek (“pharmacy”) came from two Greek words apo – away; thėkė – ark, chest. Thus “apteek” originally meant warehouse and pharmacists were warehouse keepers. The change to its original meaning came during 4.-1. century BC in Hellenistic Alexandria. Since 8. century “apteek” referred to a place where only drugs were kept, made and traded. Those places were run by a special medicine-maker – the pharmacist (“apteeker” in Estonian)
Nowadays you will be served by the pharmacists of OÜ Terve Pere Apteek. In addition to the special products you can find all the modern pharmacy goods in Raeapteek.
Invigorating tincture: Rhodiola rosea is since the old days used to invigorate, excite and raise lust and ability to work. Stomach tincture: Consists blackcurrant berries, Althea root and fennel seeds. A good medicine for relieving stomach problems and cold.
In the museum room you can see the family coat of arms of Burcharts which dates back to 1635.
- Photos and main text by Sabrina Migliorelli ti.supmacla|illeroilgim.s#| and Camilla Alberti Corseri ti.supmacla|iresrocitrebla.c#| (October 2014)
- Locate the item on this Google Map