Cover picture © Credit to: iStock/scanrail
Cover picture © Credit to: iStock/scanrail

Tallinn's churches: a walk through religious history

2 minutes to read

Tallinn is quite a small town, and Estoniain general, is considered one of the most atheist countries in the world. However, there is a surprising number of churches in the Estonian capital city. Even if you are not religious, they are the sights to see. Their architecture takes you to a walk through religious history.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The most popular church amongst the tourists is located Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, located on the hill of Toompea. This example of Russian Orthodox religious architecture is definitely worth visiting. Just step in and admire all the golden details and magnificent paintings.

Picture © Credit to: iStock/agafapaperiapunta
Picture © Credit to: iStock/agafapaperiapunta
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn
Lossi plats 10, 10130 Tallinn, Estonia

Dome Church

Although most of the churches in Tallinn are very old, the oldest one is Dome Church, founded in the year 1219, when the first Danish forces came to Estonia. You can see many things from the 14th century there, but unfortunately, the church had a fire in 1684, and most of the interior had to be replaced. You can see the organ that dates back to 1780 and step in the tomb of a rich estate owner Otto Johann Thuve, who wanted to be buried there in 1696.

Dome church, Tallinn
Dome church, Tallinn
Toom-Kooli 6, 10130 Tallinn, Eesti

St. John’s Church

This Lutheran church is located in the Freedom Square and is a quite young church – opened in 1867. It is built in neo-Gothic style. Take a look at stained glass windows and a large altarpiece. During Christmas time, try to get the tickets for one of the concerts. They are breathtaking since the acoustics in this church is amazing.

St. John's church, Tallinn
St. John's church, Tallinn
Vabaduse väljak 1, 10146 Tallinn, Eesti
Picture © Credit to: iStock/KavalenkavaVolha
Picture © Credit to: iStock/KavalenkavaVolha

St. Charles the XI’s Church

St. Charles the XI’s church, Tallinn
St. Charles the XI’s church, Tallinn
Toompea 10, 10142 Tallinn, Eesti

Where now stands a great St. Charles the XI’s Church, used to be a small 17th-century wooden church. It is an interesting church because to build it, they used limestone that is one of Estonia’s greatest resources. Also, it is not a very old church, opened in 1882. Its top sights are a mural that was painted by Johann Köler and the largest church organ in Estonia.

Niguliste Church

In this church-museum, you can see Tallinn’s most famous work of art Bernt Notke’s spooky masterpiece from the 15 century – Dance Macabre. The church has a great museum with a collection of medieval religious art, chandeliers and altars from the 15th century.

Niguliste muuseum
Niguliste muuseum
Niguliste 3, 10130 Tallinn, Estonia

St. Olaf’s Church

This church was built in the 12th century and was the highest building in the world from 1549 to 1625. It has burned down three times since its existence, but it still stands proud over the city of Tallinn. You can even climb to the top and take a look from the roof over the Old Town.  

St. Olaf's church, Tallinn
St. Olaf's church, Tallinn
Oleviste kirik, 10133 Tallinn, Eesti
Picture © Credit to: iStock/Vladislav Zolotov
Picture © Credit to: iStock/Vladislav Zolotov

For a small town, there are a lot of churches worth seeing in Tallinn. Take a walk through religious history and take a peek in the best of them.


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The author

Merje Aus

Merje Aus

Merje – proud Estonian, in love with everything her home country has to offer. Studying Estonian philology and working as a journalist.

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