The medieval church of Saint Peter and Paul in Kaarma is one of the most interesting sights in Saaremaa island. The building was probably started right after the uprising of Saaremaa inhabitants in 1261. It was a typical church of the Osilia Bishophric - a simple nave with a slightly narrower choir. The steeple was added in the 15th century and thus Kaarma became the first church with a steeple on Saaremaa.

The church is built on unstable ground and during construction an accident seems to have occurred, and part of it seem to have collapsed. The nave did not acquire its present vaults until the 15th century. The relatively wide nave was divided into two aisles for safety purposes. Sometime prior to the 15th century reconstructions, a room with a fireplace was built above the vestry. This room could serve as a place of refuge for the colonizers from the angry natives of Saaremaa. Later, it became shelter for pilgrims who followed a route that included churches on the island of Gotland and Saaremaa.

The murals on the northern wall of the choir originate from the old church. They depict a painted illusionary window and a scene with St. Christopher. Unfortunately, only the legs seem to have survived. The proceedings were observed by a hermit carrying a lantern.

Many pieces of art have survived in Kaarma church. There is a medieval baptismal font (13th century) and a wooden sculpture of St. Simon of Cyrene (mid-15th century) standing under the pulpit. The pulpit, dating from 1645, is also worth noting. The present Neo-Gothic altarpiece depicts a painting by O. von Moeller of Christ on the Cross. The niches in the altar was formerly filled by medeival carvings of the apostles. These sculptures can now be seen in the Saaremaa Museum in Kuressaare.

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Address

Kaarma 79, Saaremaa, Estonia
See all sites in Saaremaa

Details

Founded: ca. 1261
Category: Religious sites in Estonia
Historical period: Danish and Livonian Order (Estonia)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jüri Metsaalt (16 months ago)
Too bad I couldn't get in
Kristjan Padar (16 months ago)
Beautiful ..
Костя Линник (2 years ago)
A huge old church fortification. It's a miracle that it has survived for several hundred years.
Lina Augutiene (2 years ago)
Nice stop in the island
Jouko Koskelainen (4 years ago)
Historia koskettaa..
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