Alexander Nevsky was a Russian prince in the late 13th century and shortly after his death became known as a Saint of the Russian Orthodox Church. As such, many amazing cathedrals have been built in his name throughout eastern Europe. The cathedral in Tallinn is no exception, it's a remarkable building that really sticks out compared to the rest of its surroundings.
The cathedral is open to go inside every day, but photography is not allowed. There isn't really a lot of room inside (that is open to the public at least), but it is still interesting to see nonetheless. Just be respectful since at least a handful of people in there will be there for a religious reason, not just sightseeing.
An interesting fact about this particular cathedral is that it was built in the late 19th century during a "Russification period" and many Estonians did not like it, seeing it as a symbol of occupation. When they first gained independence in 1918, Estonia had actually planned to demolish the building, but never got around to doing it before the next period of occupation began.
Then, under Soviet occupation, the cathedral went into decline (since the USSR was officially non-religious, so they never maintained it) so after independence in 1991, rather than demolish it, Estonia restored the cathedral to it's present state. Some minor restoration is even still ongoing, as some scaffolding was up when I visited in April 2012.
The Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral dominates the Toompea skyline and is a beautifully restored building with a gorgeous interior and some unfortunate associations.
The cathedral is a recent structure, and was only finished in 1900. Like many cathedrals across the former Russian territories, it is dedicated to the Prince of Novgorod, Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky, whose legendary victory at the Battle of the Ice at Lake Peipsi (on Estonia's eastern border) in 1242 brought an abrupt halt to the eastward expansion of the German crusading forces.
However - sadly for a religious building - it is a divisive structure for ethnic Estonians, as it has become a symbol of repressive occupation as much as one of religious devotion. It was deliberately situated by the Russians in this prominent location (symbolically overshadowing the Estonian Parliament) and replaced a statue of Martin Luther as part of a deliberate policy of Russification, which only served to further alienate Estonians from the occupying power.
One Estonian we met commented indignantly - and totally unprompted - that she was offended by tourists commenting on the beauty of "your" [ie. Estonians'] cathedral and resented the assumption that this symbol of colonial oppression was anything to do with Estonia. It is apparent that the tension between Estonians and ethic Russians is never far below the surface - see antistar's excellent discussion on this delicate topic, which summarises the situation far more effectively than I ever could.
An unmissable Russian Orthodox cathedral perched on the top of Toompea and visible from parts of the Lower town, the Alex Nevski would be an impressive landmark for any city. Open daily between 8am-7pm, it was built between 1894 and 1900 as a place of worship for Tallinn's Orthodox community. As impressive as the domed exterior is, the interior is definitely worth taking a look at. Photography inside the cathedral is not allowed but you are allowed to take a look at the ornate religious art inside for no admission charge. The interior is very atmospheric and you are definitely more likely to hear Russian spoken than Estonian. Sadly, I re-visited the cathedral in the evening and there were people begging outside the doors. I am not sure how common this is, but it was not the only time I encountered people begging on the streets of Tallinn.
This cathedral built in 1900 is an imposing building. Apparently there is a school of thought that believes it should be demolished as it's Russian style is not compatible with the surrounding architecture. To me it is just a beautiful building. While we visited there was a service in progress so I was unable to take any photographs, but the decor along with the beautiful music and chanting made the visit a most enjoyable one.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a spectacular cathedral on Toompea Hil...it’s actually more than spectacular, I would call it lavish and opulent. As you’ll guess from its onion-domed structure, it’s an Orthodox cathedral which was built in 1900 during the Russian occupation. Its name comes from the person it was dedicated to, Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky, who was the Prince of Novgorod.
That this cathedralwanted to represent the occupying people’s power is very obvious: the place where it stands was the place where a statue of Martin Luther stood and – what’s more – is so prominent in the city that can be seen from everywhere. The cathedralis open May to September, Mon-Fri 8-19, Sat 8-20 and Sun 8-19
This rather Muscovite looking Orthodox Cathedaal dates only from the end of the 19th century and was designed by a Russian architect who based the design on that of the similar five domed churches of Moscow. In fact it was originally built here as a symbol of the domination of the ruling Russian power.
I was rather surprised that in the years of de-Russia-fication following the Independence of Estonia in 1991, that it was not renamed - given the role played by Aleksander Nevsky in the Baltic struggles of the mid 13th Century. ( See the 1938 Eisenstein film with music by Prokoviev )
Nowadays the church fulfills a more peaceful role as a place of regular worship where visitors are welcome. Though the ornate interior with glittering iconography is not to my taste.
The Nevsky is an Orthodox church built by the CZar because he wanted to reinforce Russian Culture in Estonia. It's not allowed to take photos in here and we never entered since we're not Christians. Really beautiful building though...
The Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral is the biggest Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Tallinn. It was build between 1894 and 1900. Estonia was back then a part Russia.
The Cathedral was dedicated to the Prince of Novgorod, Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky. He led the famous Battle of the Ice at Lake Peipsi in 1242 (which stopped the German crusaders going east).
I wanted to see the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral as it was one of the things the port lecturer spoke about. It was on the list of things I told the pedicab driver that I wanted to see.
The Cathedral is fairly modern, built in the Russian Orthodox style with the onion domes etc. - a 19th century building which is a little over the top in style for a 13th century medieval town. It was begun by Russian Tsar Alexander III in 1894 on what is believed to be the grave of the mythical Estonian king Kalev. Tsar Alexander named it for Alexander Nevsky, the prince of Novgorod, who in 1242 led the Russian army to victory against the invading Germans. It is controversial because many Estonians believe the Cathedral was built in yet another attempt to Russify them.
We didn't go inside but I understand it is decorated with mosaics. Photography is not allowed inside.
Opening hours: every day 8.00 - 19.00
Services: every day 8.30 and 17.00
The Nevsky is the grand Russian Orthodox church that crowns Toompea hill, the legendary resting place of Estonia's most famous folk hero. It dominates the more conservative Lutheran church next door, and isn't very popular with many Estonians who see it as a reminder of Soviet occupation.
If you think it looks impressive outside, you need to take a peek through the door. The sumptious, gilted interior is a marvel, with the extravagent decorations stretching high up into the curved dome of the roof.
Seen as a symbol of Russian domination the cathedral was scheduled for demolition by the newly independent Estonian government of the 1920s. Thankfully it survived that, and nearly a century of atheistic Soviet rule, to be meticulously restored by the same Estonians that once planned its destruction.
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