Religious sites in Estonia

Rakvere Birth of the Holy Mother Orthodox Church

The church of the Birth of the Holy Mother was built between 1898-1900 in the Old Russian style. The church contains the holy remains of the martyred priest Sergei Florinski, which are the only public holy remains in Estonia. The church is place for pilgrimage in the Russian Orthodox Church. Reference: Visit Estonia
Founded: 1898-1900 | Location: Rakvere, Estonia

Saha Chapel

The chapel in Saha used to be one of the oldest ecclesiastical centres of Rävala Maakond (Shire). Originally, Saha Church was made of wood, it was burnt down around 1223. Four cult stones with small hollows dating from the 1st millennium BC, located close to the chapel indicate that it had been an ancient cult place. The current chapel was built by builders from Tallinn in the second quarter of the 15th century. Structu ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Harjumaa, Estonia

Valjala Church

Saint Martin's Church of Valjala is the oldest church in Estonia. Immediately after the conquest of 1227, a stone chapel was erected by Teutonic knights in Valjala not far from the ancient stronghold. Its walls form the lower part of the present church choir. On the southern side of the chapel, there was a vestry. Soon after completion, the chapel was decorated with murals, the remaining fragments of which may be see ...
Founded: 1227 | Location: Saaremaa, Estonia

Järva-Peetri Church

The church of Peetri (St. Peter) is one of the biggest medieval churches in Järvamaa. It was built by the Livonian order in the 14th century. The church has the highest bell tower (built in 1868) of the Estonian churches. The interior is Neo-Gothic, the altar painting is painted by C. Greger. The wheel cross is from the 18th century. There are also two crucifixes from the 17th century and graves from 16th and 17th c ...
Founded: ca. 1300 | Location: Kareda Parish, Estonia

Nõo Church

The medieval church of St. Lawrence in Nõö is one of the oldest brick churches in Estonia. The oldest parts were constructed in the mid-13th century. The exterior has been modified at least in 15th and 19th centuries. The wooden tower was erected in 1819.
Founded: 1250's | Location: Nõo, Estonia

Karuse Church

Karuse church is one of the oldest sacral buildings in Läänemaa – it was built in the 1260s as a fortress-church for the Livonian Order. According the legend Otto von Lutterberg, a Master of the Livonian Order, has been buried in the church. He fell in a battle against Lithuanians, fought on sea ice near the church. Inside the church you should pay attention to the Baroque-style pulpit and altar. When wal ...
Founded: 1260's | Location: Hanila, Estonia

Võry Orthodox Church

The late-classicism style church was designed by M. Schons, chief architect of the Livonian Province. The master carpenter was Johann Karl Otto, a resident of Võru. The church was completed in 1804 and named the Greatmartyr Catherine’s Church in honour of Catherine II. The building has a simple rectangular ground planning, a sturdy western spire, a cupola-like ridge roof on the high tambour and arched windows ...
Founded: 1804 | Location: Võru, 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

Paide Church

The town of Paide has had a church since the 13th century. The first churches were probably built of wood. In 1767 started the construction of a new stone church and it was consecrated in 1786. On 10 May 1845, the church was destroyed in a fire. During the years 1847-1848, a new, Neo-classicistic building with neo-baroque elements was constructed by the design of G. Mühlenhausen. The church of Paide is unique among ...
Founded: 1847-1848 | Location: Paide, 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

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

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

Häädemeeste Orthodox Church

In the 1840’s, 80% of the people of Häädemeeste changed their Lutheran faith for the Orthodox one hoping, as a result of converting to the religion of the Russian imperial house, to secure for themselves a piece of land in return. Such calls were made throughout Estonia. The first Orthodox congregation of the neighborhood, the Häädemeeste congregation, was established in 1849, the church was read ...
Founded: 1872 | Location: Häädemeeste, Estonia

St. John's Church

The St. John’s (Jaani) church in Valga is one of the most beautiful churches in Estonia. The construction started in 1787, but it was not completed until 1816. The church represents Baroque and Classicism styles. It was built according to the design of architect Christoph Haberland and it is the only church in Estonia with an oval ground plan. The unique organ has been preserved in its original shape and it is the o ...
Founded: 1787-1816 | Location: Valga, Estonia

Reigi Church

The stone church of Reigi was built between 1800-1802 to replace the earlier wooden one built in the 1690. It was donated by Count Ungern- Sternberg, who had the church built in memory of his son Gustav who killed himself because he was heavily in debt to gamblers. Gustav is buried in the churchyard at Reigi. On the top of the church steeple you can see a sculpture of a lily which was part of the coat-of-arms for the Ung ...
Founded: 1800-1802 | Location: Hiiumaa, 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

Mustjala Church

The Lutheran church of Mustjala was completed in 1863. It was designed by architect D. I. Grim from St. Petersburg. The tower of church has been an important landmark for seafarers. Today Mustajala Church is popular venue for concerts in summer season.
Founded: 1863 | Location: Saaremaa, Estonia

Häädemeeste Lutheran Church

The Lutheran church of Häädemeeste was completed in 1884, only couple of years later than the Häädemeeste Orthodox church. The head of building project was Reinhold Stael von Holstein, the owner of Uulu manor. The nature stone church in historicist-eclectic style is enlivened by red brick details and two rows of windows with sharp arches on the upper ones and segmented arches on the lower. The altarpi ...
Founded: 1884 | Location: Häädemeeste, Estonia

St. Madeline's Church

The Ruhnu wooden church, built in 1644, is the oldest known wooden building in Estonia. The church's baroque-style tower was finished in 1755. The oldest parts of the building are the polygonal choir and altar, and the nave. The altar is covered with a thin, polished stone slate; the oaken frame stands on sand and is open towards the south. The stone Lutheran church next to the wooden one was built in 1912 and is current ...
Founded: 1644 | Location: Ruhnu, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Czocha Castle

Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.

Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.

In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.

In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.

After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.