History Files


Modern Estonia

Gallery: Churches of Tallinn

by Peter Kessler, 15 November 2009



Part 10: Vanalinn & Kesklinn

Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church of the Blessed Virgin with Three Hands, Tallinn, Estonia

The Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church of the Blessed Virgin with Three Hands lies along the narrow route immediately inside the old city walls, on Laboratooriumi street. Despite the age of the building, the church itself is a newcomer in the Old Town, though the Ukrainian congregation has been active in Tallinn since the seventeenth century. The building is medieval, but during its long history it has always served a secular purpose.

Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church of the Blessed Virgin with Three Hands

A wooden box with a letterbox slit is built into the wall of the church. The hand-painted script around it reads (in Estonian, Russian, Greek, and English): 'Church of the Blessed Virgin with Three Hands. She is the protector of the innocent who have been wrongly convicted, deceived and sinned against. You can describe your problem and put a letter into the box. The priest will pray for [a] settlement [of] your question'.

Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church of the Blessed Virgin with Three Hands

The Ukrainian congregation acquired the building only a few years ago, and by carrying out thorough renovation work on it they have turned the old merchants building into a very pleasant church building. A small convent operates alongside the congregation, where nuns of the St Familia Order work. The church is also the cultural centre for Tallinn's Ukrainian community, and a small museum on Ukrainian religious art and handicraft is located here.

First Advent Church, Tallinn, Estonia

The First Advent Church is situated very centrally on Mere puiestee (Sea Avenue), and overlooks Viru Square and its popular shopping area and the Narva mnt thoroughfare which heads out of the city towards the east of Estonia. Unfortunately the area is usually packed with traffic, and cars are parked in front of the church seven days a week. The building was constructed in 1923, overlooking the old market area which used to be situated here.

First Advent Church

The church holds one service on a Sunday, one on Fridays, and three on Saturdays.  Designs for the building were drawn up by an architect named Erich Roman Ludvig Jacoby (1885-1941). He was an Estonian of Baltic German descent who, in 1905-1907, studied at the Leibniz University of Hannover. In 1913 he graduated from Riga Technical University and went to Germany in 1939 during the exodus of Baltic Germans. His work remains as a testament to him.

Church of St Simeon and the Prophetess Hanna, Tallinn

The Church of St Simeon and the Prophetess Hanna is situated on the corner of the busy Ahtri road which runs parallel to the main passenger harbour, and Paadi street, which is an access road to the harbour and shopping mall beloved of so many Finnish visitors. St Simeon is the second Orthodox church to have developed in the suburbs after the Great Northern War (1700-1721). It was built in 1752-1755 on the initiative of recently arrived Russian seamen.

Church of St Simeon and the Prophetess Hanna, Tallinn

Since the Russian empire had only conquered Estonia in 1710, there were very few Orthodox churches available to the new masters of Tallinn, hence the need for this one. The coastline was considerably closer to the city in those days, before the modern port was built, so the church was practically on the edge of the water, and the foundations required some landfill to be added. According to legend, the rubble from shipwrecks was used for this purpose.

Church of St Simeon and the Prophetess Hanna, Tallinn

Nicknamed the 'Admiralty church', it was handed over to an Estonian congregation in the 1920s. The wooden building was seriously damaged during the Soviet period, when it was turned into a sports hall. The church also lost its bell tower and its onion dome. The Soviets cared little for churches, even those of their ancestors. However, since 2001, an Estonian Orthodox congregation has once again been active in the church and it has been fully and lovingly restored.

Tallin Methodist Church

Tallinn Methodist Church is a startlingly eye-catching construction of the modern period. It is located on the corner of Narva Mantee (avenue) and Uus-Sadama street, with the nearby Tallinn port just a little way to the north (in the direction of the dark clouds), with a constant stream of heavy traffic thundering past it which includes everything from cars to trams and trolleybuses. The building is also known in some source material as the United Methodist Church.

Tallinn Methodist Church

At the time of writing it was the biggest modern church centre in Estonia. The architects behind the project were Vilen Künnapu (born in 1948), one of Estonia's most important architects and a professor at the University of Tartu, and Ain Padrik (born in 1947), while interior design was carried out by Katrin and Argo Vaikla. The church hall is reputed to have wonderful acoustics, while the centre also houses the Theological Seminary of the Estonian Methodist Church.

In Depth
In Depth


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