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Ministry of Culture envisions city library in Narva's former Lutheran cathedral

Estonian Independence Day celebration at the renovated St. Alexander's Cathedral in Narva. February 24, 2009.
Estonian Independence Day celebration at the renovated St. Alexander's Cathedral in Narva. February 24, 2009. Source: (Raigo Pajula/Postimees/Scanpix)

A meeting is set to take place at the Ministry of Culture on Wednesday at which the ministry will present options for the future use of St. Alexander's Cathedral in Narva to representatives of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK), the City of Narva and the Ministry of the Interior; the preferred route is to turn the cathedral into a library.

The Ministry of Culture, who was tasked by the Cabinet in June with devising a concept for the future public use of the building, is slated to present its vision for the cathedral's future to the government before the end of this month.

Ministry of Culture Deputy Secretary for Cultural Heritage Tarvi Sits said that the ministry will introduce three options to the government — to relocate the town library into the building of the former church, to set up a multifunctional cultural center, or to leave things as they currently are. According to Sits, the ministry has indicated preference toward the first option.

While Narva boasts a high proportion of children and youth among library users, the existing building of the Narva Central Libraryis in a poor state of repair. "It would pay to give serious consideration to his idea if it finds broader support — support among local residents is particularly important," said Sits.

The official noted that the need for a new library had been indicated in the northeastern city's development program, but no suitable funding programs had been found so far. He also said that finding new uses for buildings formerly in use as churches was a hot topic across all of Europe.

On the possibility of transforming the Narva cathedral into a concert hall, it was kept in mind that Narva and nearby areas already had good concert facilities, including the Jõhvi Concert Hall and the Narva Free Stage Center, the latter of which is currently being built with the government's help, said Sits.

Regardless of which option is chosen, religious services will continue to be able to be performed in the building.

The Narva cathedral belongs to the Ministry of the Interior. The condition of the building is described as satisfactory, with renovation of the exterior already largely completed. The building's interior consists of the renovated tower section, which includes an elevator, and is in a good state of repair as well as a vaulted area which stands unused and is currently closed to visitors due to the danger of falling debris.

The courts declared St. Alexander's of Narva bankrupt in April 2015 due to the small congregation's inability to meet the financial obligations taken on in connection with the reconstruction of the cathedral. The bankruptcy petition was filed by the construction company AS Eviko; the congregation's debt at the time of its bankruptcy allegedly amounted to more than 2.1 million euros.

Before eventually buying the church together with the EELK in June of this year, the government had invested 2.5 million euros in helping to restore the majority Russian-speaking border city's Lutheran church.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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