Tallinn – St Olaf’s Church

History

   The first mention of the church of St. Olaf (Oleviste Kirik), built on the market square of Scandinavian settlers, dates from 1267. The patron of the temple was then the king of Norway, as well as the saint of the Catholic Church, Olaf II Havaldsson. However, the popular is the Tallinn legend, linking the name of the patron with the architect who, according to the story, was to fall from the church tower. In the fifteenth century, the temple was rebuilt into a basilica, and in the years 1513-1523, a St. Mary’s chapel, founded by a local merchant, Hans Pawels, was added to the church. From 1524, when the Reformation reached Tallinn, the church became a Protestant temple. Under the influence of iconoclasm, many antique furnishings, including paintings, were destroyed in the church. The historic building was also destroyed by fires, the last of which exploded in 1820. After the reconstruction in 1840, the church gained today’s appearance. During World War II, it happily avoided major damages.

Architecture

   Since the 15th century, the church has the form of a three-aisle basilica with a short but also a three-aisle chancel with a pentagonal closing in the east, to which the three-bay sacristy was attached from the north. The central aisle over 30 meters long, was covered with a stellar vault, and the side aisles had cross-rib vaultes. On the west side a massive tower was embedded into the nave, today over 123 meters high. In the 16th century, its height was 159 meters and was one of the highest in Europe. In the years 1513-1523, the St. Mary’s Chapel was added to the church from the south. it received a stellar vault and a three-sided closure in the east.

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