Rujiena – St Bartholomew’s Church


   The Church of St. Bartholomew in Rujiena was probably erected in the second half of the 13th century. In the years 1450-1480 it was rebuilt, which gave it gothic features. Soon after, in 1481, it suffered damages as a result of the invasion of the troops of Ivan the Terrible. It was renovated in the years 1643-1645, when, among other things, the roofing was replaced, once again in the second half of the 17th century when it was transformed into a basilica, and then in 1781, when almost all the windows were enlarged. Presumably, repairs also had to be carried out after the destruction during the war in the 80/90s of the 18th century. In 1711, a local pastor described the dramatic condition of the building with a damaged roof, rotten ceiling, broken windows, and no flooring. The last devastating fire of the temple took place in 1974. After ten years, thanks to the initiative of the local community, the church was rebuilt.


   After the fifteenth-century rebuilding, the church obtained the form of a towerless, small, because only three-bay, but three-aisle building with dimensions of 25.9 x 21.5 meters, with a lower and smaller chancel closed with a straight wall on the eastern side (11.7 x 12, 5 meters). Probably initially it had a hall shape, and it was not transformed into a basilica until the second half of the 17th century.
   The main entrance to the church led through a gothic, pointed, stepped portal on the west side, flanked by two pointed niches, while lighting was provided by pointed windows, probably similar in form to the preserved window in the eastern wall. Due to the lack of vaults, the church was not supported with buttresses, even around the presbytery, whose walls and small dimensions turned out to be sufficient to bear the weight of a single vaulted bay.
   Inside, a single bay of the presbytery was covered with a cross-rib vault and opened to the nave with a pointed chancel arcade, corresponding in height and width to the arcades of the central nave. The latter had a pointed form, based on massive, four-sided pillars, as if cut from the mass of the wall. The plane of the walls of the central nave and aisles remained perfectly smooth, as there were no vaults in the nave (no wall shafts, corbels or pilaster strips). In the southern and eastern wall of the chancel, there are two small wall niches, probably originally closed with doors.

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Alttoa K., Bergholde-Wolf A., Dirveiks I., Grosmane E., Herrmann C., Kadakas V., Ose J., Randla A., Mittelalterlichen Baukunst in Livland (Estland und Lettland). Die Architektur einer historischen Grenzregion im Nordosten Europas, Berlin 2017.