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Churches of Estonia

Gallery: Churches of Saare County

by Peter Kessler, 3 May 2009. Updated 7 August 2020

Part 1: Churches of Lümanda to Leisi

Transfiguration of Our Lord Orthodox Church / Issanda Muutmise kogudus, Lümanda, Saaremaa, Estonia

The Transfiguration of Our Lord Orthodox Church (Issanda Muutmise kogudus in Estonian) is on the main street in the small village of Lümanda, on the western side of the island of Saaremaa. Iron Age burials have been found nearby, but the earliest mentions of the island come from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries when it was home to a fierce group of 'Eastern Vikings'. The German crusade into the Baltics in the 1100s saw them conquered, but only after much hard fighting.

Transfiguration of Our Lord Orthodox Church / Issanda Muutmise kogudus, Lümanda, Saaremaa, Estonia

The first mention of the village of Lümanda is from 1522 when the manor served as the district headquarters for the prince-bishops of Ösel-Wiek. The church was founded in 1893 (although 1870 has also been quoted), in a typically rustic building. Today it falls under the aegis of Bishop Alexander Hopjorski of Pärnu and Saaremaa. According to one local, by 2009 it had a congregation of five. Surrounding it is a dry-stone wall similar to those seen in Yorkshire in England.

St Anna's Lutheran Church in Mustjala / Mustjala Anna kirik, Saaremaa, Estonia

St Anna's Lutheran Church in Mustjala (Mustjala Anna kirik in Estonian), is on the north side of Kiriku (Church lane), about a hundred metres west of the main highway from Kuressare. The Estonian Register of Cultural Monuments describes it as 'a single-aisle long building with a W-tower and a more curved polygonal bark with a scissor chamber. The design is accompanied by Romanesque and Gothic motifs. Due to lack of money, the tower was lower than planned'.

St Anna's Lutheran Church in Mustjala / Mustjala Anna kirik, Saaremaa, Estonia

The same lack of funds meant that the intended vaults were also not built. The construction work was handled by the St Petersburg Architects, notably in the form of architect and architectural historian, David I Grim, with that work being completed in 1893. The cultural monuments protection zone extends to a distance of fifty metres from the outer edge of the church. The interior is a high pseudo-Gothic-style one, along with matching altar and pulpit.

Metsküla Orthodox Church, Saaremaa, Estonia

Metsküla Orthodox Church is on the south side of Road 129 through the village, with the entrance to its approach lane almost exactly opposite the village shop (marked on the map in Estonian as 'pood'). It was built in 1914 (immediately prior to the start of the First World War), and has two towers which represent the two natures of Christ: divine and human. At the time of writing it falls under Bishop Alexander Hopjorski of the Orthodox Diocese of Pärnu and Saaremaa.

Apostolic Church of St Olga / Püha Olga kirik, Leisi, Saaremaa, Estonia

The Apostolic Church of St Olga, Leisi (Püha Olga kirik), stands at Aia 3, close to the junction with Rahu, just west of Kuressaare mnt as it heads northwards into the heart of the village. The church was constructed in 1873, using limestone in its walls and forming a cross-shaped building, with a large central onion dome and four corner towers. The Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Estonia was restored in 1993, after surviving in exile during the years of Soviet occupation.

One photo on this page by P L Kessler, with one kindly contributed by Lümanda vald, two by Kersti Hansen, and two by Jordi Escuer via the 'History Files: Churches of Estonia' Flickr group.



Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.