Must-visit churches and cathedrals in Tallinn

November 10, 2016 Artem Anoshkin

Like many other medieval cities, Tallinn can boast a number of historic churches and cathedrals. Most are located in the Old Town and are still functioning.

Churches and cathedrals of Tallinn. Photo by Vilve Roosioks

Estonia is the most non-religious country in Europe, according to the Eurobarometer Poll in 2010 only 18% of Estonian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God". But churches have played an important role in Estonia’s culture and politics ever since the arrival of the crusaders in the 13th century.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The catheral was designed by Mikhail Preobrazhensky in a Russian Revival style between 1894 and 1900. Estonia was then part of the Russian Empire.

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The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky who in 1242 won the Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipus, in the territorial waters of present-day Estonia.

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Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was disliked by many Estonians as a symbol of oppression and was scheduled for demolition in 1924, but the decision wasn't implemented due to lack of funds.

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Now the cathedral is one of Tallinn's tourist landmarks.

Charles' Church

Charles Church is a Lutheran church built in XIX century by Otto Pius Hippius.

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The church is designed in the tradition of Western European Cathedrals and built in a Romanesque Revival style.

Church of the Holy Ghost

The Church of the Holy Ghost or Church of the Holy Spirit is a medieval Lutheran church in Tallinn Old Town.

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It is located behind Raekoja plats, a town square beside Tallinn Town Hall.

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The church was mentioned in written sources for the first time in 1319.

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Church of the Holy Ghost was the first church to hold services in Estonian.

St. John's Church

St. John's Church is a large Lutheran parish church dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist.

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The church is built in the neo-Gothic style, construction began in 1862, and the church was opened in 1867.

 

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The church is built on the eastern edge of Freedom Square, and dominates the square architecturally.

St Mary's Cathedral (Toomkirik)

The Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin in Tallinn, also known as Dome Church, is a cathedral church located on Toompea Hill.

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Originally established by Danes in the 13th century, it is one of the oldest churches in mainland Estonia.

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It is also the only building in Toompea which survived a 17th-century fire.

St Michael's Church

St Michael's Church is a Lutheran church used by the Swedish congregation in the Old Town of Tallinn.

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For some years during the early 1700s it was used as a garrison church by Russian military.

St. Nicholas' Church

St. Nicholas' Church is a medieval former church in Tallinn, it was dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron of the fishermen and sailors.

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The church built in the 13th century, it was partially destroyed in World War II.

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It has since been restored and today houses a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia, focusing mainly on ecclesiastical art.

The former church is also used as a concert hall.

St. Olaf's Church (Oleviste)

The church is believed to have been built in the 12th century.

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The first known written records referring to the church date back to 1267, and it was extensively rebuilt during the 14th century.

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The Soviet KGB used Oleviste's spire as a radio tower.

St. Peter and St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Peter and St. Paul's Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral, one of a few in Estonia.

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Catholicism was introduced to Estonia by force vduring the Baltic Crusades and dominated religious life during the Middle Ages. However, following the Reformation during the 16th century, Lutheranism took its place as the dominant faith.

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The main architect of the cathedral was the well-known St. Petersburg architect Carlo Rossi.

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