St Mary's Cathedral

Tallinn, Estonia

St Mary’s Cathedral was originally established by Danes on 13th century and it is the oldest church in Tallinn and mainland Estonia. It is also the only building in Toompea which survived a 17th century fire.

The first church was made of wood and built there most likely already in 1219 when the Danes invaded Tallinn. In 1229 when the Dominican monks arrived, they started building a stone church replacing the old wooden one. The monks were killed in a conflict between the Knights of the Sword and vassals supporting the Pope’s legate in 1233 and the church was contaminated. A letter asking permission to consecrate it anew was sent to Rome in 1233 and this is the first record of the church’s existence.

The building was completed in 1240 and it was a one-aisled building with a rectangular chancel. In 1240 it was also named cathedral and consecrated in honour of Virgin Mary. In the beginning of 14th century, reconstructions of the church began with building a new chancel. The enlargement of the one-aisled building to a three-aisled building began in the 1330s. The construction work however lasted almost 100 years and the new, longitudinal, part of the church was completed in the 1430s. The nave’s rectangular pillars had been completed in the second half of the 14th century, though.

The church was greatly damaged in the great fire of 1684 when the entire wooden furnishing was destroyed. Some vaults collapsed and many stone-carved details were greatly damaged- especially in the chancel. In 1686, after the fire, the church was practically restored to what it had been before. Pulpit with figures of the apostles (1686) and the altarpiece (1696) were made by Estonian sculptor and carver Christian Ackermann.

The Dome Church’s exterior dates from the 15th century, the spire dates from the 18th century. Most of the church’s furnishings goes back to the 17th and 18th centuries. From 1778 to 1779 a new baroque spire was built in the western part of the nave.

One should also mention a numerous sum of different kinds of tombstones from 13th –18th century, the stone-carved sarcophagi from the 17th century, also the altar and chancel, chandeliers, numerous coats-of arms from the 17th – 20th centuries. Two of the church’s four bells date back to 17th century, two date to the 18th century. The organ was made in 1914.

Among the people buried in the cathedral are the Bohemian nobleman Jindrich Matyas Thurn, one of leaders of Protestant revolt against emperor Ferdinand II and in events that lead to the Thirty Years War, Swedish soldier Pontus De la Gardie and his wife Sophia (John III's daughter), as well as the Scotsman Samuel Greig (formerly Samuil Karlovich Greig of the Russian Navy) and the Russian navigator Adam Johann von Krusenstern.

Reference: Wikipedia

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Details

Founded: 1229
Category: Religious sites in Estonia
Historical period: Danish and Livonian Order (Estonia)

More Information

www.eelk.ee
en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Reelika Lume (7 months ago)
Beautiful historic church with sweet atmosphere
Erikka Del Rosario (8 months ago)
It is located few meters away from Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Pink House.
Markus Jalapuu (11 months ago)
Saw a painting of Keanu Reeves on a cross. AMAZING!
Наумов Олег (20 months ago)
Beautiful cathedral. The interior contains a large number of emblems. Each of them is an ode to the skill of a craftsman. A huge number of small parts. You can consider endlessly. Especially if the organ is playing.
Leonardo Borges (21 months ago)
When I visited this church it was covered with snow and I couldn't realise it very much. But it's impressive to see how old is the building and how well treated it is. And more: beside the church there's a small square where you can see a beautiful view of the surrounds. Great place to visit.
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