Saturday, April 20, 2013

St Charles’ Lutheran Church in Tuhala

Visited April 20, 2013

Today I mixed a little witchcraft with my church visits.

Okay, not really. But my trip today wasn't actually to see St Charles’ Lutheran Church in Tuhala. The church was built in 1777 and is located about 30 minutes outside of Tallinn on the road to Tartu. I was lucky enough to find this one open today, and a nice little old lady inside greeted me and the other people who were out there today.

I was glad to be able to get inside, because the altar was beautiful!

I was one of several to stop by this lonely little church in the middle of nowhere today, but that is because the witches well was boiling.

Estonia says it has five seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Flooding. We are in the latter, the 5th season, where all the snow is melting and all the rivers and streams are flooded.

When that happens, a well practically across the street from the church, known as the "Witches’ Well", occassionally begins to "boil" over (the last time was spring of 2008). Local legend holds that the well boils over when the witches of Tuhala make a sauna below the ground and beat each other with birch branches, causing a commotion on the surface.

The real reason is that well is near the Tuhala River, a 26 km long branch of the Pirita River. Some 6 km of its length runs underground. Water starts to spout up from the well and flood the area when excess water from the Mahtra swamp fills up the underground river and the overflowing river water seeks an escape through the well. The quantity of water flowing through the Tuhala River must be at least 5000 liters per second in order for the river to overflow, which only happens during the early part of the thaw.

Of course, it is possible that the thaw that causes the boiling is the result of the heat from the underground witches' sauna...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Kaarli Lutheran Church in Tallinn

Visited March 30, 2013

Charles XI Lutheran Church, or Kaarli Kirik, is Tallinn's grandest 19th-century church, and the only one in Tallinn with twin steeples.

It is a neo-Roman style church built over twenty years from 1862 to 1882 as a long overdue replacement for the original Kaarli Church. That church was founded in 1670 on the order of Sweden's King Charles XI, but like many wooden structures outside the city wall, the first Kaarli Church burned down during the Great Northern War in the early 1700s.

The present limestone church was built by architect Otto Pius Hippius from St. Petersburg using a special arch technique that gives it have a vast, open interior. It can seat 1,500, and I can attest to its wonderful acoustics...I once sat (hid) in the back and could hear perfectly.

According to Tallinn's tourism website, Kaarli Church is home to the first Estonian fresco, “Come to Me,” painted in 1879 by famed Tallinn artist Johann Köler. The church also boasts the country's largest church organ, installed in 1924. Services are still held at Kaarli Church on Sundays at 10am, and in fact, this is actually the only church I have attended services in since coming to Estonia. Well, that is sort of true. I did attend a concert in Niguliste Kirik, but it wasn't a church service and the church is actually a museum now.

But I have been to a Thanksgiving service at Kaarli. All in Estonian. It was beautiful, but challenging.

Sadly, I couldn't get inside Saturday. So I was only able to get exterior pictures.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Orthodox Cathedral of St Simeon and the Prophetess Hanna in Tallinn

Visited March 30, 2013

This is a church I have never noticed. It is on a street I have been down, but if I ever saw it, it just didn't jump out.

The Orthodox Cathedral of St Simeon and the Prophetess Hanna was begun in 1752 and completed in 1755.

It is located down near the harbor on the route I usually take to catch the ferry to Helsinki. It is a pretty little wooden church that looks like it came out of a fairy tale. It was build on the initiative of Russian sailors, and it the second Orthodox church to have sprung up as part of the suburban building boom that followed the Great Northern War. The first, as you know, was the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God (Kazan Icon) that I wrote about yesterday.

The coastline in this area was considerably closer to the city then than it is now, owing to the land being filled it, so this church was practically on the edge of the water, and legend has it that rubble from shipwrecks was used for landfill for the church.

Like most churches in Estonia, the building was seriously damaged during Soviet times, when it was turned into a sports hall. During that time, it lost its bell tower and onion dome, but the church was fortunatley restored after Estonia re-independence. Since 2001, an Estonian Orthodox congregation has been active there, and they have services on Sundays at 10am.

Luckily for me, this church was open, so I was able to get some shots of the beautiful interior as well.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God (Kazan Icon)

Visited March 30, 2013

I see this church nearly every day, but I had never taken a picture of it. I had been told, incorrectly as it turns out, that it was built in 1901. So it was just outside of my date range. Still, it was one I planned to do a post on anyway, just because it was cool looking. It was just filed under "when I get around to it."

With a little spare time on Easter weekend, I decided to look it up on the internet and wander over to take some pictures. It is only a few blocks from my apartment.

Turns out, the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God (Kazan Icon), was not built in 1901.

It was built in 1721, and is the oldest specifically orthodox church in Estonia.

The church was the first church to be completed after the Great Northern War in the early 18th century, a conflict that ended with Estonia under tsarist Russian rule. After the war, Tallinn's suburbs were growing quickly as the town was absorbing more and more Russian immigrants. And so churches like Our Lady of Kazan were built.

Even the repairs are older than 1901...the church was repaired extensively in the 19th century, giving it a neo-classical façade and interior. And sevices are still held there, on Saturdays at 5pm and Sundays at 8am. I even saw a priest in the churchyard (you can see him in the bottom picture).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

St Lawrence´s Lutheran Church in Pühalepa

Visited March 27, 2013

The last church I visited while out on Hiiumaa was St Lawrence´s Lutheran Church in Pühalepa.

Built in the 1200s, it is apparently the oldest building on the island. The church was turned into a grain store in 1951 but was restored to the congregation and re-consecrated in 1993. Choir vaults and painted crosses on the Western wall, none of which I got to see (darned locks!) are from the Middle Ages and the 19th century. There is a baroque funeral chapel in the churchyard that belonged to the Unger-Stenbock family.

I revisited the church on June 14, 2014, and was able to take a few more pictures. I thought I would share them with you. The inner door was still locked, but the outer wasn't, so I got a shot of the interior this time.


Monday, April 1, 2013

St John the Baptist Lutheran Church in Kärdla

Visited March 27, 2013

On my second day out on Hiiumaa, I got a chance to visit St John the Baptist Lutheran Church in Kärdla.

Built in 1863, this is a simple stone church built on the site of a previous wooden chapel for the people who worked in the nearby textile mill (run by the Unger-Stenberg family, whose relatives I might be descended from) with money raised by the workers themselves. The wooden tower was added in 1929. I couldn't get inside, but apparently the altar painting ”Christ on the Cross” dates from 1889.

Outside, there is a new monument to those deported during Soviet times. Monday was the 64th anniversary of the deportations, where as many as 20,000 Estonians were deported over the course of four days, and candle-lighting services were held throughout the country, including here on the island at this new memorial.