Die St. Katharinen-Kapelle in Fellin (Viljandi)


  • Kaur Alttoa




Viljandi, Medieval Chapel, Late Gothic Stone Carving, House of the Great Guild in Tallinn, St. John’s Church in Cēsis


Viljandi ‘s St. Catherine’s Chapel

During the Middle Ages, St. Catherine’s Chapel in Viljandi (Fellin) was located outside the town walls, and it was demolished in 1558, upon the out­break of the Livonian War. In 1908, archaeological excavations were conducted in the vicinity of the former chapel under the direction of Karl Löwis of Menar. An octagonal limestone capital (now located in the Viljandi Museum) was found in the course of the excavations. Its facets are decorated with slightly raised fantastical animals and plant motifs. The capitals in the Great Guild Hall (currently the Estonian History Museum) in Tallinn that date from 1410 are very similar to the Viljandi capital. Apparently, they are the work of the same master. Therefore, we can date the Viljandi capital to the early 15th century. However, other sculptural medieval elements, which are not related to St. Catherine’s Chapel, have also been found in its vicinity. Apparently, they have end­ed up there with the waste from subsequent centuries. So, we cannot say with certainty whether the capital with the relief decorations is from St. Catherine’s Chapel.

A large number of brick rib stones have also been found in the vicin­ity of the chapel. A similar form was in wide use in Livonia (Southern Estonia and also Riga) throughout the 15th century. Apparently, Viljandi’s St. Catherine’s Chapel was also built at that time. With the research that has been conducted to date, it is not possible to be sure about the dat­ing of the chapel.


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