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Kuri Orthodox Church lies near the small village of Kuri on Hiiumaa's
north-eastern coast, about four kilometres south-east of Paluküla in
the parish of Pühalepa.
The name Kuri means 'evil' in English, although the reason for this
naming has been lost.
The village's Orthodox church is situated just
outside the main settlement area, but with a population of just
fifty inhabitants, that area is extremely small. The church was only
in use between 1890-1952.
The church was build within two years, at the end
of the nineteenth century (between 1888-1890). The architects
responsible for its design and for overseeing the construction were
R Knüpfer and I Dimitrijevski. The congregation itself was active
until the middle of the twentieth century.
Kuri church was build as part of a very
typical project for the time. The same project was also used for
other Orthodox churches. In fact, all four of the Orthodox churches
which exist on the island of Hiiumaa were constructed by following
the same plan.
The architectural style used for the church is a
typically sturdy, historically standard one for the region. The
materials that were used in constructing the church included mostly
granite, and red and yellow bricks.
It used to be quite common to have
village schools built next to churches, so Kuri Church also had its
own school built next to it. Its running costs were financed by the
Orthodox church authorities (in mother Russia, which counted Estonia
as a satellite state until 1918), and the Russian imperial state,
and for that reason it was one of the best schools of its time.
During the process of Russification, in which the previous ruling
German customs and practises were suppressed, the language in which
education was carried out was changed from German to Russian.
After the church was closed down in 1952, it was used by
the Soviet border guard and also by a collective farm in the area called Hiiu Kalur.
Later on, when the farm and border guards had moved out, time and
wear-and-tear started to show on the building's infrastructure. By 1994
the situation regarding the
building was so serious that the authorities were forced to remove the
bell tower, which by now was very unstable.
Today, there is not much left of this once
beautiful building, only ruins. A very few details regarding the
church's history are now held in the Museum of Hiiumaa.
However, Hiiumaa's churches in general are very
poorly documented, thanks in part to the succession of Russian and
German periods of occupation in Estonia during the course of the
As with many abandoned buildings, this one has
been allowed to decay, and is in a much worse state than the nearby Paluküla
Church. Estonia's re-Independence governments since 1991 have had a
great many other historic buildings to save in the meantime, so Kuri
Church dies a slow death.
All photos and text on this page kindly
contributed by Kadri