St. John's Church, Tartu

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St. John's Church, Tartu
Tartu Jaani Church 2007 13.jpg
St. John's Church
58°22′58″N 26°43′13″E / 58.3827°N 26.7202°E / 58.3827; 26.7202Coordinates: 58°22′58″N 26°43′13″E / 58.3827°N 26.7202°E / 58.3827; 26.7202
Location Tartu
Country Estonia
Denomination Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
Dedication Saint John

St. John's Church, Tartu (Estonian: Jaani kirik) is a Brick Gothic Lutheran church, one of the landmarks of the city of Tartu, Estonia. It is dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist, a disciple of Jesus Christ and author of the fourth Christian Gospel.


St. John's Church in 1860 by Louis Höflinger.

Initially, St John's was a Catholic church, as the eldest parts of the current building originate from the 14th century. Before that, there has been a church building on the same place at least since the first half of the 13th century. Archaeological investigations have indicated that there may well have been a wooden church here in the 12th century. This is particularly remarkable because the national Christianisation did not take place until much later.[1] The red brick building has seen extensive changes, as it was largely rebuilt after both the Great Northern War and World War II. Baroque chapels were added in 1746 and 1769. The church is now part of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church.[2]

The Great Fire of Tartu started near the church in 1775 and the church and nearby Uppsala House were spared the destruction which destroyed nearly two hundred houses.[3]


The most outstanding feature of St. John's is its wealth of terracotta figurines surrounding the church's exterior. Originally, there were more than a thousand hand-made figurines, each different from the others; now, about 200 have survived. The large number of individual figurines has given birth to the hypotheses that they might have been modelled after citizens of Tartu; on the other hand, some of them wear crowns, which hints they might depict someone else.

Since 1999, St John's Church has two new bells named Peetrus and Paulus after city's two patron saints (respectively, St. Peter and St. Paul).

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to St. John's Church, Tartu at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ Tartu Jaani,, retrieved 28 December 2013
  2. ^ St Johns Church, Visit Estonia, retrieved 27 December 2013
  3. ^ Metz, M; et al. (2013). Pile Foundations Baltic Piling Days 2012. CRC Pr I Llc. p. 38. ISBN 0415643341.