History Files
 

 

Modern Estonia

Gallery: Churches of Harju County

by Peter Kessler, 11 July 2010

 

 

Part 10: Churches of Harju-Jaani, Aegviidu & Kuusalu

St John the Baptist Church

St John the Baptist Church (Ristija Johannese kirik in Estonian) is at Tallinna mnt 50, just on the edge of the village of Harju-Jaani in eastern Harjumaa. The first church built here was opened probably in the thirteenth century, or early fourteenth century. Unfortunately, this church was dismantled in the mid-nineteenth century to make way for a completely new building, and its architecture and history were not properly documented beforehand.

St John the Baptist Church

The present church was built in 1860-1863 and opened on 13 October 1863. The building, an eclectic mix of neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque styles, was design by architect Friedrich Wilhelm Alisch and built just a short way from the old church. Donations towards the work came from local landlords and communities. Initially single-aisled with wooden ceilings, almost immediately it was converted to three aisles with six pairs of wooden pillars to strengthen the ceiling.

St Alexander's Church

St Alexander's Church (Aegviidu Aleksandri kirik) is at Sinika 8, in Aegviidu, behind the shops and houses on the main road and completely hidden. The church also overlooks the railway on its northern side. The original wooden church here (see below) was consecrated on 6 December 1896, just a year after it was built. The church was donated by the landlord of Lehtse manor, Friedrich von Hoyningen-Huene. It was also known as Aegviidu Metsa Kabel (forest chapel).

St Alexander's Church

In 1940, the present brick tower was attached to the front of what was a very ornate and historically important wooden church. The neighbouring railway station suffered bomb damage in March 1944 and the church, also damaged, needed repair work. Instead, it seems the entire wooden exterior was replaced by brickwork, as was the rose window, and the twin Gothic needle towers either side of the entrance were lost. The modern church gained its own parish in 1992.

St Laurence's Church

St Laurence's Church (Laurentsiuse kirik) is at Kuusalu tee 27, in the small town of Kuusalu, just off the main Tallinn-Narva highway. The church was built at the end of the thirteenth century, but despite being one of the oldest in northern Estonia, it probably remained uncompleted. The stone stairway in the wall was built but the vaults were not, and neither was the tower. The vaults were laid down in the fifteenth century but were damaged in the Great Northern War.

St Laurence's Church

The church gained its present Baroque appearance at the same time as the tower and spire were built in 1760. In 1889-1890 the church was rebuilt again, now in the neo-Gothic style, and with an extended nave. The work was carried out by Friedrich Axel von Howen. The church possesses a Renaissance-styled pulpit, Baroque carved figures of Moses and St John the Baptist (by Elert Thiele, from the 1660s), and stained-glass pictures of Luther and Melanchthon.

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