St. Nicholas Church

Tallinn, Estonia

St. Nicholas' Church (Niguliste kirik) is a medieval church in Tallinn. The church is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron of the fishermen and sailors. It was founded and built around 1230-1275 by Westphalian merchants, who came from Gotland in the 13th century. While the city was still unfortified, the church had heavy bars for closing the entrances, loopholes and hiding places for refugees. When the fortifications around Tallinn were finished in the 14th century (the town wall enclosed the church and the settlement in 1310), the St. Nicholas' Church lost its defensive function and became a typical medieval parish church. There are only a few parts of the original church that have been preserved through the present.

In 1405–1420 St. Nicholas' church obtained its current appearance, when the central aisle was built higher than side aisles and the church was redesigned as a full basilica. In 1515 the tower was built higher and covered with late-Gothic spire. In late 17th century the tower was strengthened and secured. The spire was replaced with a Baroque spire with airy galleries, which was raised higher stage by stage through several centuries. The tower is now 105 metres high.

Saint Nicholas was the only church in Tallinn which remained untouched by iconoclasm brought by the Protestant Reformation in 1523 (or 1524). The head of the congregation poured molten lead into the locks of the church, and the raging hordes could not get in.

The church was partially destroyed in Soviet Bombing of Tallinn in World War II. After restoration it is in use as an art museum and concert hall. Most famous of the artworks is a painting Danse Macabre (Dance of Death) by the Lübeck master Bernt Notke, which depicts the transience of life, the skeletal figures of Death taking along the mighty as well as the feeble ones. Only the initial fragment of the original 30 metres (98.4 ft) wide painting (accomplished at the end of the 15th century) can be seen in the St Nicholas' Church.

Reference: Wikipedia

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Address

Rüütli 15, Tallinn, Estonia
See all sites in Tallinn

Details

Founded: 1230-1270
Category: Religious sites in Estonia
Historical period: Danish and Livonian Order (Estonia)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Viktoria Dark (13 months ago)
Awesome place. Totally recommend
Runo More (14 months ago)
Well known for its Bernt Notke's unique Death Dance painting, but also for rather aristrocratic interior compared to other old Tallinn churches.
Olegs Pimenovs (15 months ago)
The church is stunning and very interesting exhibitions. The great venue for the classic concerts. The staff it’s very friendly and helpful.
Mario Azzopardi (15 months ago)
Permanent exhibition of ecclesiastical art, including a part of a Danse Macabre painting. Currently also an exhibition regarding St Dymphna. Very informative and entertaining. It's there until the end of October. Looking forward to the next one.
Jaan Jarv (15 months ago)
Nice museum in the former church. Must to visit to persons who likes art and/or history.
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