St. Michael's Lutheran Church In Kihelkonna

Saaremaa

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St. Michael's Lutheran Church In Kihelkonna / Description

An eye-catching feature of the church of Kihelkonna is its slender western tower. This, however, is only a later addition to the church and dates from 1897-1899. The church itself is one of the oldest on the island.
In the early Middle Ages Kihelkonna was one of the most important centers in Saaremaa. It was situated on the road connecting the western part of Saaremaa with mainland Estonia. There was also a harbor of considerable importance here. Both the Bishop and the Livonian Order contributed to the construction of the church, which was begun in the middle of the 13th century. Initially, a fortified western tower, as wide as the nave, had been planned but its construction was interrupted, apparently in its early stages, by the revolt of 1260-1261.
Subsequently, the Bishop handed responsibility for the construction of the church over to the Order. When construction started again, the plans to build a tower were abandoned. The church, completed in the 1260's, together with the Valjala church, represent the Westphalian tradition. Here too, the loft could be used as a refuge in case of danger. A staircase, the foot of which is well above floor level, led up to the refuge.
Nothing has survived of the medieval furnishings of the church. However, there are several more recent pieces of art here. The altarpiece (1591) and the pulpit (1604) are among the oldest of their kind in Estonia. Also worthy of mention is the organ, which was made in 1805 by J.A. Stein. It was reconstructed in 1890 by F. Weisseborn from Jekabpils in Latvia. In 1638 a stone campanile was built near the church.

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