These atmospheric ruins sit on the banks of the Pirita River. They are all that remains of a large convent that dates back to the 15th century when it was founded by local merchants. Its church was consecrated on August 15, 1436 by Tallinn’s Bishop Heinrich II, and it survived as a working convent for over 150 years, the largest in Old Livonia. The occupants followed strictly the rules of St. Bridget, which stated that the convent could have no more than 85 members – 60 sisters and 25 brothers. Nuns and monks occupied separate convent buildings, divided by the church which both used, though they did not see each other during their joint masses. They were however allowed to talk to each other and to guests, but in special rooms, parlours, which were partitioned with little windows in the walls , through which it was impossible to see, but if necessary objects could be passed between nun and monk, or nun and visitor via these.
The church was also built following strictly the St. Bridget rules, its floor covered with limestone flags and, in places, with glazed tiles. The interior colour schemes were dominated by ascetic greyish-blue. At the same time the church was also typical of Tallinn, with smooth unadorned walls and columns and simple geometric forms.
The website describes how the convent’s peace was shattered and the life of the nuns and monks here came to an abrupt and terrible end:
The Pirita Convent was brutally destroyed by the Russian army’s short invasion in late January 1575. In addition, the nearby village was also destroyed. The local inhabitants never restored most of the buildings. As late as in the last century – in the 1930s – a potato field covered the former nuns’ quarters and the potatoes were stored in the former hypocaust of the abbess’s residence.
I have corrected the few small mistakes in English grammar that the original text contains
The ruins were excavated in the 1930s and again in the 1960s. Today the walls of the church remain, restored in places, but it is open to the sky, while most of the other buildings can be traced only in the metre or so high outlines of their walls. The back of your ticket has a plan, but labelled only in Estonian, so it is only by returning frequently to the map by the entrance that you will be able to understand which building is which, as there are no signs. Unless you are a student of such things or deeply interested, it is better instead to wander, simply soaking up the atmosphere of these old stones.
Meanwhile a convent has once again been established here, opening in 2001 right next door to the old ruins. It is the sisters who now administer the ruins. Admission to these costs 2€ and is well worth it if you want to see a more tranquil side to Tallinn as a contrast to the buzz of the old town.
Next tip: more sights east of the city
...is a suburb of Tallinn mainly known for its Marina, but also a popular destination for a walk. Pirita Tee (see separate tip), the road leading from central Tallinn to Pirita, is a coastal promenade frequented by joggers, bikers and skaters. In Pirita, you’ll find a couple of places to visit too. The ruins of the Pirita Convent were closed every time I was there (2007, 2011 and 2012), but at least I managed to have a look from outside. The soviet-style TV tower is just around 2 kms away. If you would like to stay around the Marina, keep an eye out for the sculptures along the water. At the marina, you will also find a monument erected after the 1980 olympic games which took place in Moscow. But as Moscow was not the perfect city for sailing competitions, they were moved to Pirita. You can still see the place where the Olympic Flame was once lit.
The pictures may be a little misleading - next to woods, the convent and the marina, Pirita has infrastructure as well. You'll have no problem in finding a supermarket or a café.
Pirita, at the exit to Tallinn's main river of the same name, is one of the capital city's most exclusive districts. Home to big yachts and even bigger houses, this was the location of most of the sea events during Moscow's Olympics in 1980. Without many boycotting countries, the Soviets still did quite badly. Others suffering were the rural Estonians, who were barred from visiting the capital for the duration of the Olympics, presumably to keep them from being influenced by evil Western degeneracy.
The district also has a very popular beach, the biggest in Tallinn, and the beautiful ruins of St. Brigit's Convent.
Tallinn's most popular beach is Pirita Tee which lies around 6km from the city centre. The clean sandy beach is easily reached by bus from the central bus terminus under Viru Centre.
The beach is popular with locals and visitors alike and on a sunny day the beach is filled with young Estonians, many enjoying one of the countries most popular sports - volleyball.
We visited at the end of May and were able to enjoy very warm weather (around 20-25 degress) which made Pirita an enjoyable place to spend a few hours.
On the western side of the beach is Pirita Harbour which is filled with sailing and pleasure boats and yachts. You can also rent a boat or pedal boat in Pirita for around 50Kr per hour and take it for a trip up the Pirita river.
While it is too cold for much of the year, it is worth a trip to the beach in the summer months.
Even when the sun is out, only the brave would go in the sea do to the cold, and the huge array of jellyfish.
Worth a trip here at midday. See many local businessmen, arrive, strip off, leave their suit on the sand, and swim out to sea. Rather them than me.
The beach is sandy and most people back home would be shocked to hear that a trip to Estonia involved a beach.
There are a lot of things you can do on a sunny day in Tallinn, but is there anything comparable to a walk along the coast? Tallinn has “Pirita Tee” a 2,5 km long road which goes along the coast to the suburb of Pirita. This road can be seen as a kind of coastal promenade which is popular with cyclist, skaters and joggers. The beach can be accessed via stairs from Pirita Tee, but this part of the beach is surely nothing for sunbathing and swimming. Pirita Tee starts from Kadriorg Park in the east of the town. Some smaller sights, sculptures and Monuments are located along the road are are just a few steps away from it. These include the Tallinn Song Bowl, the WWII monument and Maarjämae Palace. Pirita is mainly known because of its Marina, but also has a couple of other sights. For more information about Pirita or one of the sights along Pirita Tee, please check out the respective tip.
We arrived at the Pirita District stop on the Green line Tallinn city tour bus, which gave us 1 hour before another one came along. There is Yacht club on the marina and Pirita hosted many events for the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Unfortunately the weather was atrocious, with the rain pounding our faces and the wind biting at our legs. This was a shame, as the coastal walkway offers a superb panoramic view of Tallinn and its harbour. I understand that there is also a great beach nearby that is used in the summer.
The city tour stop is outside the Pirita Top Spa Hotel, which offers a free 1-hour spa/ swimming session for Tallinn Card holders. Unfortunately, I forgot my trunks. However there is a bar in the foyer that can be used.
There is also an opportunity to rent a rowing boat on the river, which I probably would have done if the weather was better. It costs 100 EEK for 1 hour or is free with a Tallinn card. St. Bridget’s Convent Ruins can also be seen, which was under siege from Ivan The Terrible.