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Churches of Estonia

Gallery: Churches of Harju County

by Peter Kessler, 11 July 2010. Updated 10 August 2019

Part 5: Churches of Saha, Jüri, Nabala & Saue

Saha Chapel

Saha Chapel ('kabel' in Estonian) is close to the hamlet of the same name, immediately east of Tallinn. The chapel was one of the earliest Christian places of worship in Estonia - fifty years older than Tallinn itself according to folklore and founded by Bishop Fulco (Falco). That would put its construction about 1180, when the Northern Crusade was only just beginning, and the presence of Christian missionaries in Estonia was still a rare and dangerous thing to attempt.

Saha Chapel

The original wooden church was burnt down in 1223. The present chapel was probably built at the same time as Pirita Convent, around 1436. The construction style is very similar, making the chapel look like a monastery, although it could also serve as a stronghold when necessary. The grooves made for bolting beams in the walls next to the doors confirm this. By 1725 the chapel was in a poor condition, and remained so until 1968, when its outer shell was fully restored.

St George's Church

St George's Church (Jüri koguduse kodulehekülg) lies on the edge of the village of Jüri. The first church here was Vaskjala Church, built between 1220-1227. It is claimed as being the first in North Estonia; its exact location cannot be confirmed. The church is next mentioned in historical records in 1401, when it was rebuilt on the present site, dedicated to St George ('Jüri' in Estonian - the reason the village bears that name). That church was completely demolished in August 1884.

St George's Church

Nothing survived from the historic church, with only an amateur drawing to show what it looked like. The present church was erected on the same site by Baron George von Friedrich Axel Howen in 1884. It was consecrated the following year, on 15 December. The church is neo-Gothic in style, with a tin roof that was added in 1914. Major repairs were carried out in 1935, 1946, 1957 and 1969. The vaults were added in 1935. The interior colours are those of the Estonian national flag.

Saue Free Christian Church

Saue Free Christian Church (Kristlik vabakirik) nestles in a lightly wooded glade at Tammetõru 2a in Saue, to the south-west of Tallinn. Since the beginnings of Christianity in Estonia, the area has fallen under the medieval Rovaniemi Vomentaga parish, which later became Keila. Sawne (in 1548) or Saue today, did not have a church of any kind of its own until the present modernist-style one was built in 1991, as soon as Estonia had independence from the Soviet Union.

One photo on this page kindly contributed by Jaan Keinaste via the 'History Files: Churches of Estonia' Flickr group.



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