St John's Church

Tartu, Estonia

St. John's Church was probably built in the first third of the 14th century as a three-nave basilica. The church was damaged in the Russian- Livonian War in the 16th century; lightning has set its spire on fire several times. Some parts of the church were destroyed in the Great Nordic War in 1708.

In the end of 19th century external walls of St. John's Church were cleaned of limewash, the original shape of the choir windows was restored and new external figures were made of instead of the destroyed ones. The building was reconstructed in the Neo-classicism style in 1930’s. During World War II, the church caught fire. The damage was so extensive that an unknown and rich interior decoration was discovered the beneath the destroyed plaster sheet. There have been over a thousand sculptures in the internal and external walls of the construction. There is no other brick church decorated with so much terracotta plastic in Europe.

There are fifteen figures in the triple arch niches of the fronton which represent Judgement Day. On the facade and two sides of the tower there are other figures since the tower's frieze consisting of quaternion foils with a human head continuing in each quaternor foil on the sides of the longitudinal building as well. There are friezes and niches decorated with sculptures in the interior as well.

However, the western wall, with numerous niches with sculptures and pseudotriforium located above the arcades in the niches of which there are figures sitting on a throne, deserves special attention. In the eastern wall, above the triumphal arch, there is a large terracotta group: Christ on a cross and Mary and John beneath the cross.

Reference: Tartu Tourist Information

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Address

Lüübeki, Tartu, Estonia
See all sites in Tartu

Details

Founded: 1300-1330
Category: Religious sites in Estonia
Historical period: Danish and Livonian Order (Estonia)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

George On tour (3 years ago)
Tartu St. John’s Church, which was built in the 14th century in the Gothic style, is one of the oldest in Estonia; moreover, it is unique in Europe due to its many original terracotta sculptures. Today, almost 1,000 terracotta sculptures survive, their age reaching nearly 700 years. Entrance to the church is free of charge for individuals; for groups, the price of admission is €1 per person. We also organise excursions for groups! Access to the viewing platform costs €2 per adult and €1.5 per pupil, student, and pensioner.
J G (3 years ago)
Recently renovated, 2005, this is a nice church. The main characteristic is the so called 1000 figurines inside the church. Inside you can’t really see them actually because of their position. You can take pictures and access the tower against entrance fees
Elizabeth Toney (3 years ago)
Beautiful to see and I didn't even get to go inside.
Danai Sae-Han (4 years ago)
From September to May it's closed on Sunday and Monday. Heard the organ player rehearse, but couldn't say hi to a fellow organ player. Golden tip: avoid Tartu on Mondays and Tuesdays like the pest, because it's as dead and void of life like the moon.
Marge Konsa (4 years ago)
The tower is definitely worth of claiming up 135 stairs. It costs 2 euros for adult and 1.5 eur for pupil.
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