Niguliste Church - St Nicholas, Tallinn
The 105 metre high spire of the former St Nicholas Church is one of several in the old town that help to create its distinctive skyline (along with the Town Hall and St Olaf’s – see separate tips). This church was originally built in the 13th century but like much of Tallinn was partially destroyed by Soviet bombing during World War II, when fire turned it to ruins and destroyed most of the interior. It was restored between 1953 and 1981, only for the tower to again be destroyed by fire in 1982. Following a further restoration it was reopened as a museum in 1984.
Although no longer a consecrated church it still makes its presence felt in the city. It is a very attractive building from the outside, and inside is now home to a significant collection of church art – medieval gravestones, church silver, altars and Tallinn’s most famous artwork, a fragment of Bernt Notke’s painting “Danse Macabre” or the “The Dance of Death”.
This though is one of several sights that will have to wait for when/if I return to Tallinn. The first time I came this way when exploring the city, with Isabel, we decided against going in as we had limited time that day and with the first appearance of the sun since our arrival in Tallinn we didn't want to spend much time indoors but preferred instead to be outside taking photos. I planned to return the next day before my departure, only to find that the museum was closed – it was a Monday and the museum opens only Wednesday-Sunday (10.00-17.00).
Still, I had been able to enjoy the exterior and in particular the striking portal, which stands out nicely against the unusual grey wash (see photo four).
Next tip: the Blackheads Guild House
Within sight of an Old Town Tourist Information office, we could see the spire of "Niguliste Kirik" or St. Nicholas Church/Museum." We walked around the base of the church but decided not to pay the admission fee to go inside, as perhaps I felt like the plain exterior might also indicate a plain interior.
However, Niguliste Kirik does have some interesting history attached to it. The church was the built in the 13th century under the auspices of German merchants from Gotland. Though it was a church it also functioned as a fortress during the time when Tallinn still defenseless and was still in the building fortifications around what is now Old Town Tallinn which would not be complete until the 14th century. Only at that time did Niguliste Kirik function solely as a church.
The church survived the looting and destruction brought on by the Protestant Reformation of 1523 because the head of the congregation was said to have poured liquified lead into the door locks making the interior unassailable. It was the bombing by the Soviets during WWII which turned the church into ruins --- something that the previous ravages of time and history had not been able to do. The St. Anthony Chapel and artworks which had thankfully been previously removed where the only things to survive the bombing. Subsequently restoration work began after the war, and despite another fire, the work was completed in the early 1980's.
Ironically, when the restoration was completed, the church no longer functioned as a place of worship. It is now used as a concert hall, although there is a museum attached which contains some notable works of art, particularly religious art of which perhaps a most famous piece is the painting of the "Danse Macabre" (dance of death) by artist Bernt Notke. In its original form, this painting was almost 99 ft. long --- stunning! I can only think of the "Bayeux Tapestry" which might be a comparable piece. Only a fraction of this painting has now been preserved in this museum.
The "Silver Chamber" is used to display admired works produced by members of town's craft guilds, most notably the "Brotherhood of Blackheads," an organization in itself which is worth further study!
Entrance is free with Tallinn Card.
Hours: Wed - Sun 10am - 5pm
Ticket Prices (2014)
Adults: 3.50 €
Child: 2.00 €
Family ticket: 7.00 €
Many churches in Tallinn have their own legend, their own story and their one odd fact making them special. Also this church, dedicated to St. Nicholas and mostly called Niguliste church has some trivia to offer. The church was founded my german sailors in the 13th century and grew to become Tallinn’s largest church. Several chapels were added, especially in the 15th and 16th century, and they all look like small, colourful houses just built at the church wall. During WWII, the church was heavily damaged, but later rebuilt. A legend says that the interior of this church only survived iconoclasm because molten lead was poured into its locks. So, the plundering and destroying horde did not get in. This means, that you will find a lot of medeival religious art in this church, including a fragment of Bernt Notke’s famous painting “Danse Macabre”.
Though services are still taking place ocassionally, the church is mainly used as a museum and charges a small entry fee (2 EUR as of 2012). Taking pictures inside is unfortunately not allowed.
St Nicholus Church (Niguleste Museum) was built by German Settlers from the island of Gotland before the Old Town around 1230. It was destroyed in WW2 and restored in 1980 and became a museum. The church has a good acoustic and most weekend the church held organ and choir performances.
St Nicholas' church was first erected in the 13th century, although most of what can now be seen dates from the 15th. It was damaged by Soviet bombing at the end of WWll, so has had to be substantially restored.
It's a museum now, gathering together many pieces of Tallinn's Medieval religious art. There is a truly wonderful 'Dance of Death' from the 15th century, by Berndt Notke. It's commentary is translated into English, so one can understand the full meaning of the picture.
There are some beautiful altar pieces too: one, from 1481 and by Herman Rode, is amazingly brightly coloured and shows scenes from the life of St Nicholas (all participants dressed in Medieval fashions, set in Medieval landscapes).
It is well worth visiting this place: the artwork (there are stone and wooden carved pieces too) is stunning and carefully displayed.
You'll have to leave coats and large bags in the underground cloakroom:weirdly, one enters the church/museum by first going down into what must once have been a crypt.
Saint Nicholas Church, also known as Niguliste Church (because of the street where it’s located), dates back to the 13th century when German merchants from the island of Gotland built it – as a church and at the same time as a fortress, too – but what we see it today is a recent reconstruction, since bombs tore it down WWII.
This church is, in my opinion, the church to end all churches, in Tallinn… at least when it comes down to its interior: saints, dancing skeletons and silver all over. In particular, don’t miss the 15th century wall-sized fragment of Bernt Notke's very spooky painting Danse Macabre, one of the most famous art pieces in Estonia.
The church is open Wed-Sun 10-17 and entrance (August 2010) was 50 EEK for adults, 30 EEK for children and 70 EEK for families.
The Church of St Nicholas is Tallinn’s orthodox church and was built in 1827 by the architect Luigi Rusca where once (in the Middle ages) stood a church for Orthodox merchants. It’s not a stunning-looking church but it is one of great important nonetheless: first of all because it was the first classical church building to be constructed in Tallinn, and secondarily because of its fine iconostasis. It’s the oldest iconostasis in Estonia. It was commissioned by the Tsarevitches Ivan and Peter and was consecrated by the Russian Tsarina Sophia Alekseyevna in 1678.
The church is open Mon-Fri 10-16 and Sun 10-15
The St Nicholas Church (Nikolai Kirik) is a Gothic church from the 13th century. During time these events happened to the church:
- the eerie Dance Macabre (made by Berndt Notke in the 15th century)
- baroque chandeliers
- altar from the 15th century
- silver chamber
- badly damaged by Soviet bombers in 1944 and a fire in the 1980s
Today you will find artworks artworks from medieval Estonian churches.
If you are lucky enough, you can see a service going on.
In line with Tallinn's strong Russian links and history, it is not surprising to find a number of other Orthodox Churches within the Old Town Walls. While The Nevsky Cathedral is the ost visited of these churches, there are a number of other interesting orthodox churches in Tallinn, among them the beautiful Church of St. Nicholas.
The church is located on Vene Street, where it was built between 1820 and 1827 and was designed by Luigi Rusca of St. Petersburg.
The Church of St. Nicholas is another of Tallinn's impressive Old Town churches. The tall bulbed spire of the church makes a significant contribution to Tallinn's beautiful skyline.
As well as being a church, the building houses a concert hall and a church art museum, which houses some of Estonia's most important religious pieces of art.
The church itself dates from the 13th century, when it was built by German merchants in honour of St. Nicholas.
The church and its valuable contents escaped destruction in 1523 during the devastating Lutheran Reformation. This was largely due to the quick thinking of the church leaders who poured molten metal into the locks of the church which kept the angry crowds out!
However, the church was not so lucky during the bombing raids of 1944 or the devastating fire of 1982, but thankfully the church has been well restored since.
Inside the church, the most impressive features are the altar by Herman Rode, which depicts the life of St. Nicholas and dates from 1482 and the 15th century Maria Altar, which formerly belonged to Tallinn's Brotherhood of Blackheads (See previous tips).
The beginning of Niguliste church building started at about 1230. Later, after 60 years, some defensive structure were added around and it was adopted both for defensive purposes. So even now it looks a bit like defensive structure around.
Niguliste church has quite rich history with all constructions of chapels, fires and reconstructions again. Some interesting things about church tower:
In 1423 the church tower started to be heightened. Some officials got worried about so big church tower (facing Toompea hill fortress) and its strategical use and construction stopped.
In 1680 government of Tallinn decided that church tower must be removed, but nothing happens.
The biggest damage of church was just after World War II, when government wanted to demolish church, as not much left from it, but it was saved and later restored. Now it houses the medieval art museum and concert hall.
Niguliste Kirik (St. Nicholas Church) was foundered in the mid 13th Century and dedicated to the patron saint of two of Tallinn’s most emblematic citizenry, merchants and seaman. The church was reconstructed in the 14th and, particularly, the 15th Century when it gained much of its present shape but was badly damaged by a Soviet air raid in 1944 however the church was rebuilt and since 1984 has housed the Medieval Art Collections of the Estonian Art Museum and is also used as a classical concert venue.
Flemish elements are seen in the three panelled of St. Anthony or the Altar of Christ’s Passion which was made by Adrian Isenbrandt, a Bruges Master, in the early 16th Century, the High Altar, by the Lubeck artist Herman Rode, depicting St. Nicholas’ life also has some wonderful carved wooden figures in its central panel. The Silver chamber displays objects made for the city’s guilds a nf the Brotherhood of the Blackheads including some large tankards which look like they would be well suited to riotous gatherings.
The highlight of the collection though is a work by another Lubeck artist, Bernadt Nokte, whose Danse Macabre depicting of skeletons leading various figures towards death is both compelling and eerie. What is displayed is only a fragment of the original painting which showed 50 figures, of various social standing, bemoaning their lives and – sometimes – early death in the text written beneath each vignette, sheets with translations of this text are available near to the painting. It is an incredible work of art and must have been a fearsome sight in its entirety.
The museum id open 10.00am-5.00pm Wed-Sun.
The church dates back to the 13th century when it was built. Nowadays this gothic style building houses a museum where more important things can be seen there, like altars from the 15th century, different collections of art and chandeliers.
Church is one of the largest one in Tallinn.
German merchants from the island of Gotland built this church to St. Nicholas, the protector of sailors. It was originally built in the early 13th century, when the church was like a fortress.
Over the centuries, the building was improved with additions and renovations. The late Gothic St. Anthony?s chapel, on the southern side of the church, and the Renaissance foyer on the northern side are particularly notable.
St. Nicholas was the only church in Tallinn?s downtown which remained untouched by the destruction of icons brought by the Lutheran Reformation in 1523: the clever head of the congregation poured molten lead into the locks of the church, and the raging hordes could not get in.
Visit St Nicholas Church (Niguliste kirik).
The church is mostly a 15th century construction with an early Gothic north doorway. As it has fine accoustics it is often used for organ recitals and classical concerts.