Dominican Monastery in Tallinn (Dominican Monastery of St. Catherine)
Estonia, Tallinn

The Dominican monastery in Tallinn was founded by monks of the Order of the Dominicans who arrived in Tallinn in 1229. Initially, the monastery was built in the Old Town of Tallinn, but because of the strife of Danish and German knights, the Dominicans had to leave this place. In 1260, the monks moved to the Lower City. Here they built the church of St. Catherine, around which a monastery soon arose. The monastery in the Gothic style was built according to the type of convention, its main premises formed a closed rectangular courtyard with an internal gallery around the perimeter. The four buildings of the monastery housed premises connected by passages: a church, a bedroom, a refectory, a library, a tomb, a chapel, a kitchen, barns. From the first years of the monastery's existence, a school for Estonian children operated under it. At the peak of its heyday, the monastery was also famous for its brewery and hospital, and for the right after death to be buried in the monastery walls, wealthy citizens gave the monastery a part of their fortune. Monastic life within the walls of the monastery ceased in 1525. During the Lutheran Reformation, Dominican monks were expelled from the city for their loyal attitude to the authority of the Pope, and their property was confiscated. The monastery buildings were transferred to the city, the church was transferred to the Estonian parish. In 1531, a strong fire almost completely destroyed the church of St. Catherine, most of the monastery premises suffered from the fire, the remnants of which eventually decayed and collapsed. In the 18th century, the life of the Catholic community began to revive in Tallinn, in 1799 the northern wing of the monastery passed into the possession of the Catholic Church. In 1844, a new neo-Gothic church of Saints Peter and Paul was built on the site of the former refectory, the former living quarters, a church, a garden, and the refectory of the Dominican monastery in 1924 were restored and opened to visitors. From the monastery complex to our days, only the western wall with two portals, part of the southern wall with fragments of three buttresses, window openings and the lower part of the south-eastern tower, as well as fragments of the northern wall and the church of St. Catherine, have survived. The Museum of the Dominican Monastery is located in the restored premises, and concerts and theatrical performances are organized in the courtyard in summer. There are also guided tours, during which the "Dominican monk" meets visitors and, handing them a torch, guides through the labyrinths of the monastery to the sounds of Gregorian singing. Here you can climb the tower, mint a coin for good luck, flip through old books in the library by candlelight, try the monastery liquor and tell your wish to the Well of Wishes, located in the monastery courtyard. According to an ancient legend, desire will come true.

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