History Files


Modern Estonia

Gallery: Churches of Harju County

by Peter Kessler, 11 July 2010



Part 6: Churches of Keila & Paldiski

St Michael's Church

St Michael's Church (Miikaeli kirik in Estonian) is at Keskväljak 1 (Central Square) in the town of Keila, a few kilometres west of Saue. A spacious square chapel was established about 1280 at 'Keila Hill', under the chancel of the present church. The fragments of paintings which survive on the chancel walls possibly date to this period. The main body of the present church was built around the chapel in the early fourteenth century, influenced by Dominican building styles.

St Michael's Church

The church was the largest in Harju County, controlled by Tallinn's Dome Church until 1452. The tower was added in the 1480s, but the church was virtually destroyed during the Livonian Wars in 1558. Restoration was carried out in 1596. A neo-Gothic rose window was added to the southern wall in 1851 and the steeple was decorated with arch motifs and symbols of the evangelists. Wheel crosses and funeral chapels of local German landlords lie in the churchyard.

Keila Methodist Church

Keila Methodist Church (Keila Metodisti koguduse) is at Põllu 5, on the northern side of Paldiski maantee in Keila. The church was founded with its first public service on 24 April 1993 in rooms at Keila Construction Office, Paldiski mnt 28a, and gained its own pastor on 13 August of the same year. The present church was built at a later, unspecified date, and the congregation became allied to that of Peoria First United Methodist Church in the state of Illinois in the USA.

Keila Baptist Church

Keila Baptist Church (Keila Baptistikogudus) is at Haapsalu mnt 10, on the northern side of the street. There is no information available on the church's founding, although the building was probably put up shortly after independence in 1991. The premises are also shared by Keila Seventh-Day Adventists. This congregation was founded on 12 December 2005 by the thirteen original members, and now flourishes as part of the town's collective churches.

St Nicholas' Church

St Nicholas' Church (Nikolai kirik) is at Mere 12 in the town of Paldiski, overlooking the industrial harbour. The church was built in 1842 in the Classicist style. It consists of a nave only, with a low tiled roof and small bell tower just behind the main doors. The church was closed during the Soviet era, between the Russian reoccupation of Estonia in 1944 and departure in 1991. During that time, Paldiski served as the Nuclear Submarine Training Centre for all of Soviet Russia.

St Nicholas' Church

Paldiski remained a closed town throughout the Soviet period, with few people from elsewhere in Estonia allowed authorisation to enter. When the Soviets left, the nuclear reactors were removed and the town opened. The congregation reclaimed their church and refurbished it. The altar painting, 'Resurrection', which was created in 1888, has been preserved, but by 2010 the old windows were making the interior cold and damp during the long Estonian winters.

In Depth
In Depth


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