Dominican Monastery

Tallinn, Estonia

The Dominican monastery was founded in 1246 and it is the oldest one in the medieval old town. The center of monastery was St. Catherine's Church, which was completed in the late 1300s and was the largest church building in the lower town. The Monastery was expanded several times, most recently in the 16th century.

St. Catherine's convent closed down in 1525, when the monks were expelled from Tallinn during the Reformation. The looted and empty monastery church was destroyed by fire in 1531 - only ruins were left.

There were originally three inner chambers (together so-called claustrum) in the monastery allowed only for residents. The claustrum housed the most important rooms in the monastery: the prior’s room, the old library, the chapter hall, the dormitory, the sacristy, the cloister and the vestry. In the 14th and 15th centuries the leaders of the knight guilds of Harju and Virumaa often used the claustrum as their meeting and gathering place.

Only the eastern chamber has been preserved to our days. The dormitory, library, dining room and other rooms provide a fascinating opportunity to take a peek into the life of medieval monks. A mysterious "energy column" is located in the basement. According the legend it can be a source of physical and mental well-being.

References: VisitEstonia, ABC Matkatoimisto

Comments

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Kielimaisteri said 6 years ago
Thanks for the comment, the photo is changed now!

Revalerin said 7 years ago
The middle photo does not depict the Dominican Monastery. It shows the Tallinn townwall with two defencetowers, Maidentower (Neitritorn) and Kiek in de Kök. The photo was taken from the Danish King`s Garden. The monastery is about 7 minutes walk from there :).


Details

Founded: 1246
Category: Religious sites in Estonia
Historical period: Danish and Livonian Order (Estonia)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

J. Castillo (3 years ago)
Impresionante Claustro, del monasterio donde lo antiguo es bello y bien conservado y donde hay una persona que se encarga de ello, donde hacerse unas fotos y dejar una donación y no una obligación, merece la pena debes de Ir
Common Sense (3 years ago)
Vahva koht, tekitab tõelise ajaloos olemise tunde. Üks põnevamatest nurgatagustest Tallinna Vanalinnas.
Olchik Bogomolchik (4 years ago)
Обязательное место к посещению в Старом городе! Очень завораживающие и историческое место, особенно красивый монастырь в летний период, когда много зелени вокруг! Я родом из Таллинна, но частенько гуляю и заглядываю в этот монастырь!
Sou S (4 years ago)
Interesting place with tranquil feel. Run by the public museum organization or institute now, not by Church.
Elena Punty (4 years ago)
One of the most eerily beautiful and peaceful places in all of Tallinn. Small, but the courtyard is free. To get into the Monestary is cheap (a few euro?) and lots of beautiful stone work. A quiet and beautiful respite from the tourist crowds out in the streets.
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From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

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The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.