Medieval churches in Estonia

Koeru Church

Koeru Church is one of the oldest medieval churches in Järvamaa with a beautiful Baroque tower. The church was built probably in the mid-13th century and expanded to the three-nave form aroud 1300. The church was damaged badly in Livonian Wars and again in Great Northern War. It was mainly reconstructed in 1721. The present 43m high tower was built in the end of 18th century. The pulpit, altarpiece and crucifix in t ...
Founded: ca. 1250 | Location: Koeru, Estonia

Kullamaa Church

The oldest remaining parts of the Jaani (St. John’s) Church were built in the end of 13th century. It was enlarged in 1865 and partially reconstructed couple of years later. The interior is mainly from the 17th century and represents Renaissance and Baroque styles. In the church graveyard is an old tombstone from the year 1621 with text “Sitta Kodt Matz”. The limestone tomb is oldest remaining in Estoni ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Läänemaa, Estonia

Pühalepa Church

The Pühalepa Church is Hiiumaa’s oldest stone church. In 1255, the German Order started the construction of a stone fortress-church. Initially lacking a steeple, the arched stone church was completed in the 14th century, but the construction of the steeple was not started until 1770. During the Livonian war (16th century) the Pühalepa church was plundered, but it was restored again at the beginning of the 17th centur ...
Founded: 1255 | Location: Hiiumaa, Estonia

Järva-Madise Church

The church of Järva-Madise was originally built as a fortress-church in the end of 13th century. The present appearance is mostly from the 14th century. The wall paintings, altar and pulpit of Järva-Madise church originate from the Middle Ages, the tradition to burry inside the church is reminded by grave plate hewed in the floor. You can visit Järva-Madise church in summer months from Friday to Sunday. R ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Albu, Estonia

Keila Church

Keila Church is the biggest medieval country church in Harju county, which was obviously established shortly after the North Estonia was occupied by Danes. In 1280 a spacious square chapel was established at "Keila hill", where today there is the chancel of the church. Fragments of the paintings at the chancel walls date possibly from this period already. The main body of the church remained unbuilt at the beginning and w ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Keila, Estonia

Harju-Risti Church

The Church of the Holy Cross is a medieval Gothic style building with a peculiar shaped tower. Construction started in the 13th century and was completed in the first half of the 15th century. The church was originally built with a round tower, however during the first half of 17th century half of the top of the tower collapsed. There are two tombs from the 15th century and a pulpit from the 17th century inside the churc ...
Founded: ca. 1330 | Location: Padise, Estonia

Jõhvi Church

The church of St. Michael (Mihkli) was built in the mid-15th century and it is the biggest one-nave church in Estonia. It was originally constructed as a fortress church; two meter thick walls, narrow windows and the surrounding moat made it easy to defend. The church has been damaged in wars and restored several times. The unique detail of the Jõhvi church is a great vaulted cellar, which is today renovated as a ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Jõhvi, Estonia

Suure-Jaani Church

The Church of Great Saint John the Baptist was built as a Gothic style fort-church probably in the end of 13th century but before 1330's. It is a typical Central-Estonian church with three naves. There is a rectangular east choir and tetragonal west tower. The portals of the church are remarkable. During the wars the pillars and arches of the church were destroyed. Supposedly, the church had round pillars. The wooden ceil ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Suure-Jaani, Estonia

Ambla Church

The medieval stone church of Ambla is the oldest in Central Estonia. Construction of the church was started in the mid-13th century. The church has been consecrated in the name of Virgin Mary, the main patron saint of Teutonic Order. In Latin the church is called Ampla Maria (Mary the Majestic), which also has given the name for the village. The Renaissance-style interior was mainly destroyed in Livonian Wars, but ther ...
Founded: ca. 1250 | Location: Ambla Parish, Estonia

St. Lawrence Church

The Church of St. Lawrence in Kuusalu is considered to be one of the oldest stone churches in Northern Europe. It may have been built originally by the Gotlandish Cistercian monks of the priory of a Roma monastery locating in Kolga. The church was built probably at the end of the 13th century. The Baroque-style bell tower was erected in 1760. The Neo-Gothic shape of the church originates from the large renovation made in ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kuusalu, Estonia

Väike-Maarja Church

Väike-Maarja church was built on top of a chapel. It was first mentioned in 1346, main construction works took place in the 1370s. The church has relatively thick walls: 2,4 m in average, also had two embrasures near the western tower. There are also German and Estonian chapels, built in 1770 and in the beginning of the 19th century.
Founded: 1370's | Location: Väike-Maarja, Estonia

Jõelähtme Church

Jõelähtme church is one of the oldest churches in Harjumaa County. The building of Gothic-styled church was started in 1220s and completed in the beginning of 14th century. Jõelähtme church was consecrated to Virgin Mary. The church has been rebuilt several times. The last rebuilding in 1910 was carried out after a conflagration: the gable end tower was replaced by a massive tower erected in front ...
Founded: ca. 1220 | Location: Jõelähtme, Estonia

Vigala Church

The first mention of the church in Vigala dates back to 1339. It was built by Uexkülls, the oldest noble family of Livonia. The old church was a slate building with high gables. The choir was vaulted and a free-standing tower was erected in the 15th century. Due to the suboptimal loamy ground new towers had to be erected repeatedly. The architect Alar Kotli designed the bell tower to commemorate those who have lost ...
Founded: 1339 | Location: Vigala, Estonia

Pärnu-Jaagupi Church

Pärnu-Jaagupi Church is the youngest Gothic church in Estonia. It was made of stone between 1531 and 1534 to replace the earlier wooden church. The pulpit is from the Baroque era and the altar was built in 1794. In the graveyard is the tomb of local noble family von Nassackins.
Founded: 1531-1534 | Location: Pärnu-Jaagupi, Estonia

Ridala Church

The oldest parts of the Ridala church were built in the late 13th century. It was expanded in the 15th century when the tower was built on the southern side. Ridala Church is one of the most valuable churches in Läänemaa from the artistic point of view. It has been dedicated to Mary Magdalene whose figure in the church is one of the oldest sculptured figures in Estonia. The medieval paintings, altar, triumphal ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ridala, Estonia

Viru-Nigula Church

The construction of Lutheran Church of Viru-Nigula was started originally in the late 13th century and continued until 15th century. The Baroque-style pillars were added in the 17th century. The church was badly damaged by fire in 1941 and the restoration was started right after World War II. Reference: Tapio Mäkeläinen 2005. Viro - kartanoiden, kirkkojen ja kukkaketojen maa. Tammi, Helsinki, Finland.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Viru-Nigula, Estonia

Haljala Church

Haljala church was built originally between 1430-1440, replacing a wooden church from the previous century. The octogonal tower was completed in the end of 15th century. Haljala church was damaged in 1558 during the Livonian war and in 1703 during the Great Northern War when it was burnt down by Russian troops. In 1831 it was damaged again when the tower and roof burnt down. The tower was rebuilt in 1865 at which time it ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Haljala, Estonia

Lüganuse Church

The Lüganuse Lutheran church was built in the beginning of 14th century. It was enlarged as a two-nave church in the 15th century. The round tower is unique in Estonian medieval architecture. The church was badly damaged during the Second World War and restoration began in 1951.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Lüganuse, Estonia

Urvaste Church

The first record Urvaste Church date back to 1413 and it is considered to be one of the oldest churches in Võrumaa. This church, dedicated to Saint Urban, was built in the form of a basilica in the Gothic style, the only such rural church in Estonia. It was mainly destroyed in Livonian War (1558), but reconstructed in 1620. The Altar painting dates from 1885 and the painter is C. Walther. The Organ is a masterpiec ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Võrumaa, Estonia

Järva-Jaani Church

The Church of St. John in Järva-Jaani was built around 1300 as a single-nave fortress church. The Neo-gothic tower was erected in 1881. There are some interesting historical artefacts in the church like Baroque-style pulpit made by Fr. Hoppenstätt in 1648.
Founded: 1300 | Location: Järva-Jaani Parish, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Sirmione Castle

Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.

Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.