History Files


Modern Estonia

Gallery: Churches of Tallinn

by Peter Kessler, 26 July 2009



Part 4: Churches of Vanalinn

The Swedish St Michael's Lutheran Church, Tallinn, Estonia

The Swedish St Michael's Lutheran Church is at Rüütli 9, just a few steps down the street from St Nicholas Church. Swedes settled near the port area of Tallinn in the fifteenth century, but Estonian Swedes could be found on the islands and along the western coastal strip as early as 1271, according to written sources. A Swedish parish certainly existed by 1531, when the death of the priest was recorded. However, the parish probably existed for at least a century before that.

The Swedish St Michael's Lutheran Church

The Reformation came to Estonia despite the efforts of the Order of the Brothers of the Sword, although the Swedes apparently welcomed it, and the situation stabilised when the Swedish kingdom took control of the country in 1645. The Swedish population in Tallinn suddenly rocketed. In 1631, Gustav Adolf II had already decided that the Swedes should be granted the use of the old St Michael's monastery for schools, and that the monastery church should be granted to the Swedish parish.

The Swedish St Michael's Lutheran Church

In 1716, Russian ownership of Estonia meant the Swedes had to leave their church, which became the Russian Orthodox Garrison Church. The homeless Swedish parish had to celebrate mass in different German churches until the authorities gave them the Hospital of St John on Rüütli street. The church was inaugurated in 1733. After independence, the 1944 Soviet re-occupation saw the church converted into a sports club, but in 1992 it was handed back to the Swedish community.

The Estonian Christian Pentecostal Church, Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn Christian Pentecostal Church is at Toompea 3, on the leafy hill which leads up from Charles XI Church to Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Unlike the Swedish church in Tallinn, the Pentecostal movement in Estonia has no more than a century of history behind it, being established in 1906, when the first prayer houses were founded. The building which houses this church was constructed in 1908 to house the Harjuoru gym for the former Toomkool, or Dome School, which existed on the hill of Toompea.

The Estonian Christian Pentecostal Church

Toomkool (or the Estonian Knighthood Dome School, to give it its full title) was an establishment which was designed for the elite of pre-Independence Tallinn, as it was a cathedral school for the Estonian German nobility. When the school's former gym was gained by the Christian Pentecostal movement in Estonia, the stylish and attractive Art Nouveau building was thoroughly renovated. The building was originally designed by Arthur Hoyningen-Huene.

The Estonian Christian Pentecostal Church

The Soviet invasion saw the Pentecostal movement prohibited by the authorities and thrown out of its churches. For the fifty years of occupation, there was no official Pentecostal organisation in the country, and many of the church's pastors were deported to Siberia. Luckily, enough escaped to the west to set up Estonian Pentecostal churches in Europe and North America until such time as the church could return home, which it did in 1991.

In Depth
In Depth


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