The former Church of St Catherine of Alexandria
is on St Catherine's Passage (Katariina käik), between Vene and Müürivahe
streets. It was the grandest and southernmost building in the Dominican
friary complex, founded by the Order of the Brothers of the Sword between
1250-1300. The church connected directly to the friary garth, and to the
still extant monastery storeroom. The church was originally three-aisled,
influenced by those in Visby, Gotland, in Sweden.
Probably completed in the mid-1400s, it was the
largest church in Tallinn. Fire in 1531 left it in ruins for four
hundred years with only the western wall surviving, along with two
Gothic portals and bits of the north and south walls (the latter on
the left here). In the mid-1800s the western section of the ruined
church was restored, although only to a height of one storey. The
rest, the tower and possibly five storey-high nave, had been lost
to the ravages of time.
The tombstones along the outer wall of the church,
lining St Catherine's Passage, are from the church itself. They date
from 1371-1503. In the mid-1800s the western section of the ruined
church was restored and the best-preserved tombstones were displayed
on the wall. Others had a chequered history, being moved around to
be shown off in the houses of the nobility. Those of the Wacke family
from the late 1300s are on public display at Kohtu 6 on Toompea.
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Peter and St
Paul is on Vene street, although the term 'cathedral' is sometimes
dropped in favour of 'church'. A Dominican Friary was established here
in the 1200s. It was destroyed by the fire of 1531 which also claimed
the neighbouring St Catherine's Church (above). The pseudo-Gothic
'cathedral' was built over the ruins of the friary's refectory. Its
interior, with its neo-Classical facade, was completed in 1845.
The remains of part of the former friary walls
were rebuilt around the new cathedral. In recent years several
changes have been made inside the cathedral in order to add more
dignity to its outside appearance, including the addition of
stained glass windows. The cathedral has four big lancet windows on
the south side and five more on the north side. The windows on
the southern side of the building open on the inner courtyard of the
former Dominican monastery.
The altar painting in the church, which is entitled
'The Ascension of Virgin Mary', is a gift from Bavarian King Ludwig I
(1825-1848). Two doors down from the cathedral's entrance is this
building (in white). As mentioned in the text for St Catherine's Church,
it was a storeroom for the Dominican friary, and now serves as a
restaurant. The Dominican friary itself used to be located behind it
and to the left of this photo, with St Catherine's to the right, down
the narrow passage.