Wooden Churches of Estonia

While rather modest compared to other Baltic countries, Estonia's sacred wooden heritage is no less surprising because of its high quality and diversity.

Wikimedia Commons/Iifar

Church of St. Simeon and the Prophetess Anne, Tallinn

The Church of St. Simeon and the Prophetess Anne is the Orthodox Apostolic Cathedral in Tallinn. It was built between 1752 and 1755 on the initiative of seafarers. As the coastline was then much closer to the city, the church was almost on the waterfront and the foundations had to be filled in. According to legend, shipwrecks were used for this purpose. The historic wooden building suffered during the Soviet era but has now been completely restored.

Church of St. Simeon and the Prophetess Anne
Wikimedia Commons/Juks

Ruhnu Wooden Church

The Ruhnu Wooden Church is the oldest preserved wooden building in Estonia. Its construction began in 1643, during the period of the Swedish Duchy of Estonia (1561-1721). At the beginning of the 1920s there were plans to move the wooden church to the future open-air museum in Tallinn. Ten years later the Swedish authorities looked for ways to move the church to Skansen in Stockholm, but when World War II broke out, the church remained on the island, where it is today an important attraction.

Ruhnu Wooden Church
Wikimedia Commons/dalbera

Sutlepa Chapel

The Sutlepa Chapel is a 17th-century chapel, which has been in the Estonian Open Air Museum since 1970. The chapel was consecrated again in 1989 and currently functions as an auxiliary church of the St. John's congregation in Tallinn. The Sutlepa Chapel is one of the oldest wooden buildings in Estonia. The chapel was built in the village of Sutlepa perhaps as early as 1627. However, the year "1699", engraved above the church door, probably marks the time of construction of the building, which has survived until today.

Sutlepa Chapel
Wikimedia Commons/Iifar

St. Peter's Church, Kehtna

St. Peter's Church is a wooden church that was completed in 1854. Its tower was built later, in 1887, when wood shingles were added to the roof. In 1996, the church received its present name and became the auxiliary church of the church of Rapla. The church has an organ built in 1914 by the organ master August Terkmann.

St. Peter's Church
Wikimedia Commons/Väino Valdmann

House of Prayer of the Old Believers, Raja

The house of prayer of the old believers in raja is a reconstruction from 1902 to 1910 of a building dating from 1879. The Old Believers (Orthodox branch) of Raja did not receive permission to build their own shrine until 1879. The building burnt down during the Second World War on 30 August 1944, and unfortunately, all that remains is the bell tower, which was restored in 1990. There is now a museum in the church.

House of Prayer of the Old Believers
Wikimedia Commons/Ivo Kruusamägi

Church of Mary, Naissaare

The Church of Mary was built between 1934 and 1938 according to the design of the architect Karl Tarvas. During the Soviet occupation, the church was used as a barn, it was recently re-consecrated on 19th August 2018. The church is an important monument of the wooden architecture of the churches of the first half of the 20th century. Now a listed building, it is being restored and can only be seen from the outside.

Church of Mary