Iconic Haapsalu church bell-tower work nears completion

St John's Church in Haapsalu.
St John's Church in Haapsalu. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

Repairs to a church in the western city of Haapsalu are nearly finished. The work, on the Jaani kirik (St. John's Church), started in spring as a matter of urgency, mainly concerned its 19th century bell-tower, and was mostly funded by the state.

The national heritage protection agency (Muinsuskaitse amet) has provided €100,000 support aimed at completing the work, to which an additional e12,000 was added, with rest is expected to be covered by the Haapsalu city authorities, as well as the congregation and other donors. 

Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) Bishop Tiit Salumäe says that there are still a few aspects of the work to be completed, with the final price to be announced in the near future. 

Salumäe said: "I think that maybe the €150,000-level will not be breached, though the volume of work has increased. There has also been additional support from the heritage protection, an the bills have to be finalized, there is no real overview yet, but it is clear that the work has been done and the companies paid."

The church is one of the oldest buildings in the town, dating back to the late middle ages, though the tower is much newer than that, being erected in the 19th century.

The tower's structure and in particular its cupola had load bearing issues due to the condition of supporting wooden structures, while a new cupola has also been inserted.

Salumäe said awaiting suitable scaffolding so that workers could operate safely was an additional cause of delays.

The church was not reported among the list of beneficiaries of this year's protection money funds, which accompanies the state budget process, though many churches did indeed receive funds via this avenue.

Estonia has no state church and no mandatory church taxes. The EELK is the largest single denomination by membership, though commands far from a majority devotion from among the populace, and most older church buildings either belong to it or to the Estonian Orthodox churches (of which there are two main denominations, one under the auspices of the Constantinople Patriarchate, the other, part of the Moscow Patriarchate).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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