Kihelkonna Church

Saaremaa, Estonia

The building of St. Michael’s church in Kihelkonna was probably started in the mid-13th century and completed between 1270-1290. In the early Middle Ages Kihelkonna was one of the most important centers in Saaremaa. It was situated on the road connecting the western part of Saaremaa with mainland Estonia. There was also a harbor of considerable importance here. Both the Bishop and the Livonian Order contributed to the construction of the church, which was begun in the middle of the 13th century. Initially, a fortified western tower, as wide as the nave, had been planned but its construction was interrupted, apparently in its early stages, by the revolt of 1260-1261.

Inside the church the altarpiece (1591) and the pulpit (1604) are among the oldest of their kind in Estonia. Also worthy of mention is the organ, which was made in 1805 by J.A. Stein. It was reconstructed in 1890 by F. Weisseborn from Jekabpils in Latvia.

South of the church is located a distinct bell tower - so-called campanile. This stone-made, free standing bell tower was built in 1638 and is the only one remaining in Estonia. The tradition of such bell towers became widespread in Estonia in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Reference: Saaremaa.ee

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Details

Founded: ca. 1250-1290
Category: Religious sites in Estonia
Historical period: Danish and Livonian Order (Estonia)

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