Saturday, September 29, 2012

St. Michael's Lutheran in Keila

Visited September 29, 2012

I was finally able to get out to another church today.

Well, actually, I photographed St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow earlier in the week, but that isn't in Estonia!

This is St. Michael's Lutheran in Keila. We passed it on the way out to Paldiski, but I am glad I was able to stop.

St. Michael's is the biggest medieval country church in Harju county. Around 1280, they established a square chapel at "Keila hill," located on the site of the current chancel of the church. Fragments of the paintings on the chancel walls could date from this period.

The main body of the church was built in the first half of the 14th century as a simple unvaulted box-like building. The church was destroyed in 1558 during the Livonian War and was restored in 1596.

I didn't get to go inside (it was locked), but I walked around outside. There are a number of pretty cool mausoleums around it. I wish I could have spent more time there.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Birth of Christ Orthodox in Hanila

Visited August 15, 2012

We were headed back from Saaremaa and driving past the town of Hanila when I said, "Holy crap! Look at that!"

"That" was Birth of Christ Orthodox, or the ruins of it anyway.

The church was consecrated in 1889. And it was a glorious church in its day.

The building suffered from a variety of insults. Blasting for construction and the weather did the building in, and it was closed in the 1970s. They are apparently planning to try to restore it though.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Orthodox Church of St Vassily the Great in Laimjala, Saaremaa

Visited August 14, 2012

As best as I can tell, this church was built in 1848. It was locked, so I wasn't able to get inside and take pictures. I'll post more if I can find it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pöide Lutheran Church in Pöide, Saaremaa

Visited August 14, 2012

Coolest church visit so far by far!!

I went back to Saaremaa to speak to the students participating in a science camp (awesomely smart kids, by the way). On the way down, we stopped at the church in Pöide. This church is believed to be have built on the remains of a chapel built in 13th century. Apparently, after the conquest of Saaremaa in 1227, the eastern part of Saaremaa belonged to the Livonian Order, who built a fortress here as their headquarters during the second half of the 13th century. The people of Saaremaa destroyed the fortress during a wave of uprisings against the occupying forces that took place in Estonia and Saaremaa during the St.George's Night Uprising of 1343. There was a chapel on the southern side of the fortress, and the walls of this chapel form the central part of Pöide church. That, and its massive form, is why it is called fortress-church.

The building was looted and burned during World War II, and the crack down the front is the result of a lighting strike and subsequent fire in 1940. Part of the church have been renovated and reconstructed since 1989.But the coolest part of my visit? They are working on studying and renovating the building right now! Archeologists were conducting excavations while I was there, and art historians were carefully exposing the paintings which had been covered with plaster.

I got to spend some time talking to them about their work. And they showed me some of their finds. The archaeologist told me he thinks this is likely the oldest church in Estonia. Not Kaarma. Not Valjala. This church. Coolest visit ever!

This is an amazing church and I can't wait to see the results of their work!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Apostolic Church of St Olga in Leisi, Saaremaa

Visited August 4, 2012

I went back to Saaremaa for their Merepaevad, or Sea Days, and got to get in a few more churches. The Apostolic Church of St Olga was built in 1873. The congregation of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Estonia was restored to the church in 1993 after having been in exile during the Soviet occupation.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Orthodox Church of the Ascension of Christ in Angerja

Visited July 14, 2012
This one, Orthodox Church of the Ascension of Christ, was built in 1901, and I spotted it while I was out at a kiln in Kohila. So it is one year too new, but I really have a thing for the brick and stone churches, so I am including it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Narva

Visited June 9, 2012

Okay, visited is too strong a word. But I did take this picture of the Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ from the tower in Narva Castle. The church was built in 1896, putting it barely in my target range, and the cornerstone was set by Czar Alexander III.

I'll update this with some more pictures when I go back.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Alexander’s Lutheran Church in Narva

Visited June 9, 2012

The Embassy sponsors a Soap Box Derby each year in Narva, in the northeast part of the country. The area's population is mostly Russian speaking, and in fact, only the Narva River separates Russia from Estonia there.  But our Soap Box Derby there brings together Estonians and Russians from across the country for a day of fun.

While I was there this year, I went to see Alexander’s Lutheran Church, which built in 1884 and was damaged by the Soviets in World War II. Because it is the largest church building in Estonia, it was hard to get a picture from the ground. But I did get this nice shot from the tower in Narva Castle.

The Soviets used the church as a warehouse, but restoration work there is really bringing back the church's beauty. You can tell the original from the restored parts on the inside.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Niguliste Church in Tallinn

Visited May 28, 2012

Right off of Vabaduse Valjak (Freedom Square) is the Niguliste Church, one of the Old City's more recognizable sights. My first time there was in preparation for the September 11 10th anniversary concert.

Niguliste is no longer a church, but it used to be. It was finished in 1230...inside is this amazing tapestry that is nearly as old. The church was particially destroyed by the Soviets in the bombing of Tallinn.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lutheran Church of Holy Spirit in Tallinn

Visited May 27, 2012

The Lutheran Church of Holy Spirit in Tallinn was built in the 13th century and is near town square. The clock on the side is a well known landmark in the city.