St. John's Church

Cēsis, Latvia

St. John's Lutherans Church is one of the oldest medieval architectural monuments in Latvia and the largest medieval basilica outside Riga. The Church was built in 13th century under the Livonian Order by the second Riga Archbishop Johann von Luves. Cesis became one of the most important German centres from 1237 to 1561.

In the 16th century St. John's Church survived a few changes. First at the beginning it was devastated and became one of the Northern Reformation Centres and one of the first Reformation Churches in Latvia. At the end of the century Cesis was ruled by Polish authority and the name of the Church was changed into Catholic bishop Inflantijas Cathedral. After Sweden-Russian war Cesis was annexed by Russia and St. John's Church became Russian property until 1919 year. WWI as well as WWII destroyed a big part of the Church. After WWI the Church lost its 56 stunning stained glass windows, a part tile roof, an organ space was damaged. During a siege in WWII the city was strongly bombed up. The southern part of side area, roof arch and organ were destroyed.

Although St. John's Church suffered the North War, eight fires, crusades of German and Soviet Union troops, it managed to rebuild the roof, walls, arches and even stained glass windows. Today the glorious St. John's Lutheran Church is 65 m long, 32 meters wide and has a massive 65 m high bell tower of neo gothic style with four small towers on the corners and a 15 m high triangular gothic spire. The three-sphere basilica centre altar is a public monument as this late gothic style masterpiece is cut from oak. The apse and rectangular halls are trimmed with semi-circle arches interlinking in the centre. Large stained glass windows, ancient metal wares, gravestones of Livonian Masters of the Order and organ music is creating mysterious and exciting atmosphere.

Besides the everyday three-time worships the Church is also organizing local organ concerts and world famous International Organ Festivals. St. John's Church is actively cooperating with city council, other interfaith congregations, “Sister” Church in Sweden and German and associates with the Riga Old Sun Gertrude and Slokas congregations. The Church is protecting historical and art monuments that are inscribed into National importance list.

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Details

Founded: 13th century
Category: Religious sites in Latvia
Historical period: State of the Teutonic Order (Latvia)

More Information

www.way2latvia.com

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

George On tour (5 months ago)
St. John’sChurch is one of the oldest medieval architectural monuments in Latvia. Church was built in the beginning of 13th century during the Christianization of Baltic’s for the purposes of the Livonian Holy Order because residence of the order was located in Cēsis; therefore Cēsis became one of the most important German power centers in the Baltic’s from 1237 up to 1561
69h fff (7 months ago)
A good place
Hans Damen (2 years ago)
Nice church, nothing special.
Rich Bell (2 years ago)
Pretty, very old, church with a terrifying (fun) option to tour the bell tower. The church is pretty, but let's be honest - all churches from that era are. For mere 2€ you can take your life in your hands and climb the stairs of the ~65m bell tower for a view. Most of the thrill comes from navigating the near-black steep staircase on your way up. Still, I enjoyed it.
Ivars Dimdiņš (3 years ago)
The church facade still awaits restoration, but the community seems to be very active. The guide, a senior lady, is very vigorous, helpful and gave lots of information, as did the exhibitions inside. The tombs of the Masters of the Livonian Order and the stained glass with the Latvian coat of arms, which was miraculosly preserved by the pastor during the Soviet time are impressive.
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Lübeck Cathedral is a large brick-built Lutheran cathedral in Lübeck, Germany and part of the Lübeck UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1173 Henry the Lion founded the cathedral to serve the Diocese of Lübeck, after the transfer in 1160 of the bishop's seat from Oldenburg in Holstein under bishop Gerold. The then Romanesque cathedral was completed around 1230, but between 1266 and 1335 it was converted into a Gothic-style building with side-aisles raised to the same height as the main aisle.

On the night of Palm Sunday (28–29 March) 1942 a Royal Air Force bombing raid destroyed a fifth of the town centre. Several bombs fell in the area around the church, causing the eastern vault of the quire to collapse and destroying the altar which dated from 1696. A fire from the neighbouring cathedral museum spread to the truss of the cathedral, and around noon on Palm Sunday the towers collapsed. An Arp Schnitger organ was lost in the flames. Nevertheless, a relatively large portion of the internal fittings was saved, including the cross and almost all of the medieval polyptychs. In 1946 a further collapse, of the gable of the north transept, destroyed the vestibule almost completely.

Reconstruction of the cathedral took several decades, as greater priority was given to the rebuilding of the Marienkirche. Work was completed only in 1982.

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The 17 m crucifix is the work of the Lübeck artist Bernt Notke. It was commissioned by the bishop of Lübeck, Albert II. Krummendiek, and erected in 1477. The carvings which decorate the rood screen are also by Notke.

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In the funeral chapels of the southern aisle are Baroque-era memorials by the Flemish sculptor Thomas Quellinus.