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Modern Estonia

Gallery: Churches of Saare County

by Peter Kessler & Anu Wintschalek, 3 May 2009. Updated 26 January 2011

Part 1: Churches of Lümanda, Leisi & Liiva

Transfiguration of Our Lord Orthodox Church in Lümanda

The Transfiguration of Our Lord Orthodox Church (Issanda Muutmise kogudus in Estonian) is on the main street in the small village of Lümanda, on the western side of Saaremaa. Iron Age burials have been found nearby, but the earliest mentions of Saaremaa come from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The island was home to a fierce group of Eastern Vikings. The German crusade into the Baltics in the twelfth century saw them conquered, but only after hard fighting.

Transfiguration of Our Lord Orthodox Church

The first mention of the village of Lümanda is from 1522 when the manor served as the district headquarters for the prince-bishops of Ösel-Wiek. The church was founded in 1893 (although 1870 has also been quoted), in a typically rustic building. Today it falls under the aegis of Bishop Alexander Hopjorski of Pärnu and Saaremaa. According to one local, it has a congregation of five. Surrounding it is a dry-stone wall reminiscent of the type seen in Yorkshire in England.

Apostolic Church of St Olga

The Apostolic Church of St Olga (Püha Olga kirik) stands at Aia 3, close to the junction with Rahu, just west of Kuressaare mnt as it heads northwards into the heart of the village of Leisi. The church was constructed in 1873, using limestone in its walls and forming a cross-shaped building, with a large central onion dome and four corner towers. The Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Estonia was restored in 1993, after surviving in exile during the years of Soviet occupation.

St Catherine's Church

St Catherine's Church (Katariina kirik) stands on a side street south-west of the junction between the Kantsi road and Road 10, in Liiva, in the centre of the island of Muhu, immediately north of Saaremaa. The towerless church was first mentioned in 1267. Its west door partly survives from 1617. It was damaged by fire in 1941, during the Second World War, and stood roofless until 1958, although the original vaults, over the church rather than under it, survived.

One photo on this page kindly contributed by Jordi Escuer and one by Anu Wintschalek, both via the 'History Files: Churches of Estonia' Flickr group.

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