St. Catherine's Passage, Tallinn
Just beyond the Masters’ Courtyard is a more famous corner of medieval Tallinn, the Katariina käik or St. Catherine's Passage. Its south side is lined with small craft shops – I believe these are the very same that you can access from the north side of the Masters’ Courtyard though didn’t check out this theory at the time. These are well worth a visit, and we also heard good things about the Italian restaurant further down the lane (but weren’t able to verify its quality as it was too busy to accommodate us when we tried to eat there – a good sign I think).
But for me the most interesting sights here were on the opposite side of the passage – the remains of the former St Catherine’s Church and some intriguing ancient tombstones that used to line the inside of its sanctuary. Informative panels will tell you more about these.
The tombstones (photos two and three) have moved around a fair bit it seems. From their original position in the church some found themselves as the paved floor of a barn that at one time stood in its ruins, while others were displayed in the burgomaster’s summer manor at Rocca al Mare. Those on the barn floor were moved here to the church’s southern wall in the 19th century, and in 1959/60 the rest were brought back to join them. They include the 14th century tombstone of the family Bremen, which is the oldest known one in Tallinn to carry a coat of arms, and another with an early image (very faint) of a noble woman.
My fourth photo shows a detail of one of the western portals of the old church, which you can see on one side of an open space to your left soon after entering the passage from Vene. The church belonged to the Dominican Friary founded here in the second half of the 13th century. It was ruined by fire in 1531 and only this wall, and a small part of the others, remained. These portals date from the 14th century and are considered exceptionally noteworthy as examples of Tallinn sculpture. They use figurative images and symbolism to express the Dominicans’ faith. On one, a dog is portrayed chasing pagans into the church – the dog was a symbol of the Dominicans (in Latin canis domini means “dog of the Lord”). Elsewhere are dragons with snakes in their mouths (my photo is of one of these) which are said to symbolise the pursuit of education and faith. There are oak garlands and lilies for the Virgin Mary, a rosette for St Catherine, and trefoils for the Holy Trinity. well worth spending some time to explore, although the carvings are worn and hard to make out in places.
Next tip: great Italian food at nearby La Bottega
...is a beautiful passage between two main streets of the old town. It is partly roofed an bordered at its northern side by the remains of the dominican monastery, giving it a medieval feeling. The street is full of handicraft shops and popular with tourists.
On the wall belonging to the former monastery, you will find former tombstones and architectural details from that monastery as well as some boards with information on its history.
This small covered part-covered street is one of Tallinn's most picturesque. In the vicinity of the old Dominican monastery, the wall of one side of St Catherine's Passage consists of 14th and 15th century tombstones of some of the Brotherhood of the Blackheads and the Great Guild. There is a sign showing the location of the tombstones and who they belong to in the passage.
Katariina käik is St. Catherine's Passage, one of the most scenic corners of Tallinn – as well as one of the first I came across. It gets its name from a church that once used to stand there - St. Catherine’s Church – though now not much f it is left. Going through the passage you’ll notice two details: first of all a row of large and ancient tombstones and then some old-looking craft workshops, called guilds.
The tombstones, when the church was in use, used to line the inside of the sanctuary. The 15th- to 17th-century guilds, instead, host artists and craftsmen who use traditional methods to create their art – in this case glass blowing, weaving and pottery making.
Connecting Vene and the wall hugging Muurivahe streets, Katariina Passage is a wonderful, narrow medieval street filled with craft shops, restaurants, and criss-crossed by stone arches. Covered insets along the passageway walls create snugs that seem to be popular gathering places for young locals.
St. Catherine's Passage is the most famous of all Tallinn's narrow laneways. The passage way connects Vene and Müürivahe. The narrow lane has an original medieval charm where you can really imagine Tallinn as an old medieval city.
The laneway maintains several 15th and 16th century residential buildings and trade and craftsman workshops and in some of these buildings you can still witness local artists and craftspeople busy at work. At the end of the passage you can see remains of St. Catherine's church. The walls of the pasage is also lined with stone carvings from the Dominican Monastery.
St. Catherine passage gives a special medieval feeling. One side of passage is remaining part of St. Catherine church and another side is residential buildings from 15th to 17th century. It is one of the most amazing places for me in Tallinn old town.
When you will walk this passage you will see grave stones from one church on the wall. Sometimes they show daily crafts from medieval times at this small passage.
St Catherin'e passageway is a narrow, olde world passageway - wraught iron lamps & workshops - you can watch people blowing glass etc.. - you can also (obviously) purchase what they make (expensive!). The walls of the passageway are lined with some gravestones from St. Catherine's. The first tombstone is dated 1381.
Saint Catherine’s passage combines together the medieval atmosphere. It was rediscovered only at the end of past century. You can see there the remaining parts of Saint Catherine’s church and old living houses which dates back to the 15th century. There are many local artist and craftsmen shops. You can see the artists painting the porcelain, blowing the glass and doing other interesting works.
A nice passage with artisan shops and medieval atmosphere. There are remains of St. Catherine's Church in the northern end of the passage. All the artisan studios here are open to the public and you can pop in to see how things are done.