St Mary's Church, Pöide (Pöide Maarja
kirik in Estonian) stands on the northern side of Oti tee (Oti Way),
at the junction with Pöide-Levala tee in the north-eastern corner of
the island of Saaremaa, close to the crossing to Muhu. The church was built in the middle of the
fourteenth century on the ruins of Pöide Order Castle (the
'Order' being the Livonian Knights). The existence of a former fortress is
evidenced by below-ground ruins to the north of the church.
part of the lower area of the church's side walls have survived from this period.
It is the largest single-nave church in
western Estonia and the islands. Its rich interior decoration is one of the
best examples of
Estonian high Gothic. The main portal is located
on the southern side (under the tower), rather than the more
typical entrance at the west end. Inside, near the south wall, can
be seen trapezoidal tombstones and their
fragments embedded into the floor of the choir.
St Catherine's Church in Liiva (Katariina kirik)
is on a side street south-west of the junction between the Kantsi
road and Road 10, in the centre of the island of Muhu, immediately north
of Saaremaa. As Hermann von Wartberge's church, this towerless
structure was first mentioned in the year of its initial completion
- 1267 - dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria who was martyred in
the early fourth century AD Roman empire. Possible changes were
later made to it.
The main entrance - the west
door seen in the first photo - partially survives from 1617,
indicating at least one of those possible changes, but in its
proportions the church is a classic example of similar medieval
churches in Estonia. It would initially also have provided a
defensive purpose. The building was damaged by fire in 1941, during the
Second World War, and stood roofless until 1958. Luckily the original
vaults, over the Gothic church rather than under it, have survived.
The Virgin Mary Orthodox Church (Rinsi
Muhu kirik in Estonian) is on the south-west side of the main road
through Rinsi on the island of Muhu, overlooking the junction
between the two roads that head towards Road 149. It is one of two
functioning Orthodox churches on the island, built by local people
in 1871-1873 as the first of those churches. Its initial (and full)
dedication was Our Lady of Kazan Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God, and
it remains active today (2020).
One photo on this page kindly contributed by
Kirsty Cabot, one by Urmo Saks, one by Patrik Hierner, and two
by Mark Pfalz, all via the 'History Files: Churches of Estonia'