The recently renovated Niguliste Church and Museum is well worth a visit. The exhibition in the medieval church hall, built in the 1200s, is an impressive experience in itself. Large works of church art, late medieval altarpieces, chandeliers and wall candlesticks from the 16th and 17th centuries all come into their own in the towering main hall. The museum houses the most valuable and extensive collection of ecclesiastical art in Estonia.
In connection with the renovation, the church museum’s facilities have been modernised and now the church tower is also accessible. A lift from the church hall to the tower allows visitors to admire the views in all directions from a staggering height and without the hassle of walking.
The Church of St Nicholas was one of the most beautiful churches in medieval Tallinn
The Church of St Nicholas is dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of merchants and seafarers, and is believed to have been founded in the mid-13th century. The Church of St. Nicholas was one of the two parish churches in medieval Tallinn and at one time one of the richest churches in the city. In the early 1520s, the first evangelical preachers arrived in Tallinn. The Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther, received early support from the local municipality, and the reorganisation of church life began. St Nicholas’ Church became a Lutheran parish church.
The Second World War caused enormous damage to St Nicholas Church. Although the evacuation of valuable works of art had already begun in 1943, only a few were saved from the ravages of war. In 1944, during a bombing raid on 9 March, the church caught fire, and almost everything that was left of the building was destroyed by fire. The fire destroyed the church’s beautiful pews and balconies, as well as the pulpit and several epitaphs.
In the Middle Ages, St Nicholas Church was one of the most beautiful churches in the city. The wealth and glory of the local merchants can still be seen in the precious works of art on display in the museum. They were commissioned from major European art centres. The most remarkable are Bernt Notke’s Dance of Death and the magnificent altar retable from Hermen Rode’s workshop, both by Lypecene masters. The Niguliste Church also still houses a seven-armed brass candelabrum, one of the largest of its kind in the world, donated to the church in the early 17th century and nearly four metres high.
The reconstruction of St Nicholas Church began in 1953. After almost thirty years of renovation, the building, adapted for a museum and concert hall, was opened as a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia in 1984.
The lift takes you effortlessly up to the Niguliste Church tower to admire the view
The latest renovation has modernised the church to better serve museum visitors. An expected improvement is the lift built into the church tower, which takes visitors effortlessly up to the heights to admire the surrounding Tallinn skyline. The tower’s windows open in all directions, offering a bird’s eye view of the medieval city.
Open: Tue - Sun 10.00 - 18.00
Address: Niguliste 3
Ticket prices: Adults 12 euros Family ticket 24 euros Discount ticket 8 euros