Top Historic Sights in Haapsalu, Estonia

Explore the historic highlights of Haapsalu

Haapsalu Castle

The bishop castle of Haapsalu was built in the 13th century. It was the main residence of the Bishop of Läänemaa. The Läänemaa bishopric was created as a state of the Holy Roman Empire on 1 October 1228. Construction, widening and reconstruction of the stronghold went on throughout several centuries, with the architecture changing according to the development of weapons. The stronghold achieved its fi ...
Founded: 1228 | Location: Haapsalu, Estonia

Church Of The Congregation Of Maria Magdalena

The Orthodox Maria Magdalena Church was built in 1847-1852 by the unknown architect. Russian Tsar Alexander II attended the opening of the church in 1852. The church was restored to its present state only a few years ago. The church is open on Sundays from 9 am to noon.
Founded: 1852 | Location: Haapsalu, Estonia

St John's Church

The St John’s (Jaani) Church of Haapsalu was built during the restless reformation years during the early part of the 16th century (first mentioned in 1524), and initially it was dedicated to St Nicholas. The church is exceptionally laid out in a north-south bearing. The basement of the church was an ancient storage house. The church has a beautiful stone altar (17th century), a wooden pulpit (18th century) and one ...
Founded: 1524 | Location: Haapsalu, Estonia

Alexander Nevsky Church

The church of Alexander Nevsky was originally a small chapel built in 1896. Only few years (1896-1897) later it was reconstructed as a church by the design of Architect A. Krasovski. The central part of the church is covered by a high, tented roof in 'Moscow style', crowned by an onion dome. It also has other characteristic features of Russian Orthodox churches, and is renowned for its iconostasis. During colder m ...
Founded: 1896-1897 | Location: Haapsalu, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Church of the Savior on Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.

In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.