Niguliste Museum

Museum in Tallinn

Image by klug-photo Getty Images

Dating from the 13th century, the imposing St Nicholas' Church (Niguliste kirik) was badly damaged by Soviet bombers in 1944 and a fire in the 1980s, but today stands restored to its Gothic glory. Now deconsecrated, it's a strikingly apt site for a branch of the Estonian Art Museum devoted to religious art. The acoustics are first-rate, and organ recitals are held here most weekends.

The most famous work on display is Berndt Notke’s 15th-century masterpiece Dance Macabre. The gist of this eerie skeletal conga line is that whether you’re a king, a pope or a young slacker, we’re all dancing with death. Annoyingly, the plastic screen that protects the painting has a surface sheen which makes the work difficult to see from some angles. Other artefacts include painted altarpieces (including the church's own extraordinary cabinet-style altarpiece by Herman Rode from Lübeck, dating from 1481), carved tombstones and a chamber overflowing with ecclesiastical silverware.


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