St. Nicholas Church, Tallinn

Tallinn, Estonia

St. Nicholas Church, Tallinn


St. Nicholas Church (Estonian: Niguliste kirik, German: Nikolaikirche) is a medieval church building in Tallinn (Reval), Estonia. It was dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron of the fishermen and sailors. Originally built in the 13th century, it was partially destroyed in the Soviet bombing of Tallinn in World War II. The building itself has since been restored, however, as a church without own congregation, it has not been used for regular religious activities since World War II. At present it houses the Niguliste Museum, a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia, focusing mainly on ecclesiastical art from the Middle Ages onward. It is also used as a concert hall.

The church was founded and built around 1230–1275 by Westphalian merchants, who came from Gotland in the 13th century. While the city was still unfortified, the church had heavy bars for closing the entrances, loopholes and hiding places for refugees. When the fortifications around Tallinn were finished in the 14th century (the town wall enclosed the church and the settlement in 1310), St. Nicholas Church lost its defensive function and became a typical medieval parish church. There are only a few parts of the original church that have been preserved through the present.

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