Tallinn's Five Beautiful Churches

Tallinn's Top 5 Churches

Tallinn's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Northern Europe. It dates back to the 13th century and remains the main attraction for visitors to Tallinn. The historical churches in the city are among its most significant features, ranging from Gothic to Neo-Byzantine architecture.


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Established in the 13th century by German knights of the Teutonic Order, Catholicism dominated Estonia until the Protestant Reformation brought Lutheranism to the country. Therefore, the first churches in Tallinn were Roman Catholic places of worship. Russian dominance in Estonia between the 18th and 20th centuries introduced Eastern Orthodoxy.


As an architecture buff, I enjoy visiting Tallinn, one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe. It has many old and splendid sacral buildings. Here is my list of five beautiful churches in Tallinn, along with brief descriptions.


5 Beautiful Churches in Tallinn


1. St. Mary's Cathedral

Tallinn's oldest church
View of St. Mary's Cathedral from Toom-Rüütli Street

The 13th-century Gothic Cathedral of St. Mary is the oldest surviving sacral building in Estonia. Originally Roman Catholic, it converted to Lutheranism in 1561 and is now the main Estonian Evangelical Lutheran church.


The interior reflects its history, with unique coats of arms dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries adorning the walls. In addition to admiring the magnificent interior, visitors can climb the 69-meter (226-foot) tall Baroque bell tower for spectacular views of Tallinn.


Address: Toom-Kooli 6, 10130 Tallinn, Estonia
Website: Tallinna Piiskoplik Toomkirik


2. St. Olaf's Church

Tallinn landmark
The Church of St. Olaf's tower, as seen from Lai Street

The tallest medieval structure in Tallinn is the Church of St. Olaf. Initially built in the 13th century, the church only reached its present size and shape in the 16th century.


According to legend, Olaf, the church's architect, died when he fell from the tower after he built it, and snakes and toads emerged from his mouth as soon as his body hit the ground. This event is depicted on a wall carving in the adjacent Virgin Mary Chapel.


The main embellishments of the church are the Gothic stellar vault and the 16th-century chapel. Its 124-meter (407-foot) tower is one of the symbols of the capital of Estonia. The observation deck, open from April to October, is accessible via 232 interior stairs.


Address: Lai 50, 10133 Tallinn, Estonia
Website: EEKBKL Oleviste kogudus


3. St. Nicholas' Church

Niguliste Museum
View of St. Nicholas Church from Harju Street

In the middle of the 13th century, Westphalian merchants from Gotland island founded the Church of St. Nicholas in honor of the patron saint of merchants and mariners. Between 1405 and 1420, the building took on its current appearance.


After reconstructions in the 1980s, the church houses the Niguliste Museum, specializing in medieval religious art. The most well-known work in the museum is a Danse Macabre by Bernt Notke, a 15th-century German master. Visitors can also admire stunning works of art created by the town craft guilds in the Silver Chamber, intricate altarpieces, and Baroque chandeliers. The church is a popular venue for organ or choir concerts most weekends due to its excellent acoustics.


Address: Niguliste 3, 10146 Tallinn, Estonia
Website: Niguliste muuseum


4. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Orthodox Tallinn
View of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral from Komandandi Garden

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built-in 1900 when Estonia was a part of the Tsarist Empire, is the principal Russian Orthodox cathedral in the country and one of the most outstanding masterpieces of Orthodox sacral architecture in Tallinn.


This onion-domed structure is atop Toompea Hill. Mikhail Preobrazhensky, a well-known Russian architect from Vabalninkai city (now in Lithuania but then in the Russian Empire), designed it in the Russian Byzantine style. Its towers have 11 bells, including the country's largest one, which weighs 15 tonnes.


Address: Lossi plats 10, 10130 Tallinn, Estonia
Website: Nevsky sobor


5. St. Charles's Church

Tallinn church
The front of St. Charles' Church

The Neo-Romanesque Church of St. Charles, the only church with two spires in Tallinn, is regarded as the most magnificent of all 19th-century sacred buildings in Estonia. The front is reminiscent of Western European cathedrals, with two western steeples framing a rose window.


The building has a tremendous open interior. The frescoes that adorn the high altar will appeal to art enthusiasts. It is the largest church in Estonia, with a capacity of approximately 1,500 people, and serves as a cathedral for Lutheran Christians in Tallinn.

Address: Toompea 10, 10142 Tallinn, Estonia
Website: Tallinna Toompea Kaarli Kogudus


Tallinn Map


Where to Stay in Tallinn


Booking.com offers a wide range of lodging options, various discounts, and exceptional customer service. For a list of places to stay in Tallinn, click here.


Booking.com


Welcome to Tallinn: Private Walking Tour with a Local


If you want to get to know Tallinn through the eyes of passionate locals and to learn about its best-kept secrets, book the Private Walking Tour. Also, if you want to get dressed up in medieval period costumes for a photo shoot with a professional photographer, enjoy the Tallinn Medieval Photo session.


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Have you visited any of these churches in Tallinn? Do you agree they are gorgeous? Feel free to share your thoughts in the section below.

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