The Dome Church (Toomkirik), also known as the Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin, sits on Toompea Hill, to which it lent its name. Despite the name, the church does not feature a dome: the name is in fact a corruption of the Estonian word toom, which means cathedral.
The church was founded in 1233 and rebuilt repeatedly, which has left it with a mix of architectural styles. Its vaulted main body dates from the 15th century, while its Baroque tower was added in 1779.
Historically, the Dome Church was a burial ground for the elite and the interior walls are decorated with the coats-of-arms of Estonia’s noble families. As you approach the altar, you will see the finest carved tombs on the right, including that of the 16th-century Swedish commander, Pontus de la Gardie, who led Swedish forces during the Great Northern War, and the marble Greek temple-style sarcophagus of the 18th-century Scottish-born Admiral Samuel Greigh, who joined the Russian navy and became a hero of Russo-Turkish sea battles – and was also rumored to be Catherine the Great’s lover.
A large slab of stone dedicated to Otto Johann Thuve lies just inside the entrance. Thuve, sometimes referred to as "Tallinn's Don Juan", was a notorious drinker and womanizer, who requested burial at the church’s threshold so that churchgoers, as they kneeled to pray, might save his soul.
The church is free to visit and open Tuesdays through Sundays.
Dome Church Tours
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