Tallinn – monastery of St Catherine

History

   Dominican monastery of St. Catherine was in Tallinn in its current location at least since 1246. Then the coastline and the harbor were much closer to the city, which had a positive impact on the economic development of the monastery, brokering in the trade of fish and other goods imported by sea. Also significant were the connections with the Brotherhood of the Blackheads from Tallinn, which transferred material donations to the monastery, for which the monks, in turn, patronized the members of the community. The monastery was destroyed during the Reformation in 1524, when a raging crowd invaded the church and forced the monks to leave the city. The property of the order and the monastery was considered as a property of the city. Unfortunately, as a result of a fire in 1531, the church and part of the eastern and northern buildings were damaged. Since then, they have been inhabited by the poor and the homeless. Partial demolitions, mainly the northern wing of the monastery, occurred in the nineteenth century, due to the construction of a new, nearby church of St. Peter and Paul.

Architecture

   The major building of the monastery was the church of St. Catherine located in the southern part, which was probably completed in its final form in the second half of the 14th century and was one of the largest buildings in medieval Tallinn. The length of the church was 67,7 meters, width 18,5 meters, and the church area was 1219 square meters. Finally, at the end of the Middle Ages, it had the form of a three-nave building in a hall arrangement with a single bay pentagonal closure in the east, on the extension of the central nave. On the south-east side a slim tower was placed in the corner of the building.
   The monastery buildings located north of the church surrounded by three wings and cloisters an internal rectangular courtyard. In the east wing, the church was adjacent to the sacristy, and then a chapter house with a vault based on the middle pillar was located. Behind it was a narrow room, later used as a library, and in the corner a large hall of an old refectory. The northern wing housed the so-called a new refectory, and most of the west wing was filled with a lay brothers room. From the west, the monastery granary was in contact with the church building.

Current state

   A part of the courtyard and the monastery buildings and cloisters surrounding it from the east and west have survived to our times, as well as two entrance portals to the church. Together, they form one of the better-preserved urban monastery complexes throughout the territory of Livonia.

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