While Tallinn Philharmonic Society artistic director Tõnu Kaljuste does not consider it reasonable to spend hundreds of thousands on setting up a temporary roof on the Pirita Convent each year, Tallinn heritage protection board director Boris Dubovik does not understand how anyone can think of rebuild medieval ruins for commercial reasons.
"I think it is wasteful," Kaljuste wrote on his social media on Thursday. He noted that some €100,000-150,000 is spent yearly on maintaining the Pirita Convent's (Pirita klooster) temporary roof and bleachers.
Kaljuste has turned to city officials, who have told him that heritage protection just does not allow for there to be reconstruction works at the church. "The renovation of the Pirita Convent deserves to be discussed. Times have changed. New construction materials and technical solutions should adjust our thought patterns," the choral conductor said.
"St. Bridget would get dignified rooms, where music would not be bothered by rain, wind, refrigerators nor generators. Music begins from silence... Theoretically, at least," Kaljuste wrote.
Some 18 months ago, Tallinn deputy mayor Kalle Klandorf said he would support a roof for the Pirita Convent, because the city does spend quite a bit on temporary roofs.
He noted that the city's urban planning department must decide when and what kind of studies to conduct in order to go forward with a permanent roof solution.
Heritage protection board: No renovations for medieval ruins
"Which studies?" Tallinn urban planning department heritage protection board director Boris Dubovik responded rhetorically. "No one has even provided a vision for what this roof would look like."
Additionally, Dubovik does not understand how anyone even comes to the idea of modernizing a medieval building. "I cannot imagine who even has the idea of rebuilding a medieval building for commercial reasons," the heritage protection specialist said.
He explained that the Pirita Convent ruins are famous across northern Europe and they must be conserved as they are. "This is some kind of joke," he said of the ideas of placing a roof on the iconic church, pointing out that windows and doors would also have to be reconstructed to even consider making it a place for concerts.
The National Heritage Board also does not support a roof. The board's communication department manager Kätlyn Metmsaa said the most recent discussions took place in March 2020, after which the board has delegated the responsibility to the Tallinn heritage protection board.
Pirita Convent, also known as St. Bridget's Convent, was built in the early 15th century from limestone and timber. The Pirita Convent used to be the largest nunnery in Old Livonia. The convent was destroyed by the Russian army in late January 1575. The first systematic excavations started in 1934 and led to remarkable findings. In the early 1960s the excavations shifted to south, focusing on remains on the east side of the monks quarters.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste