Pirita Convent - History and Facts | History Hit

Pirita Convent

Pirita linnaosa, Tallinn, Estonia

Pirita Convent was an important 15th century nunnery of the order of St. Bridget and now stands as a picturesque ruin

Peta Stamper

27 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Pirita Convent

Pirita Convent (Pirita klooster) was an important 15th century nunnery of the order of St. Bridget and now stands as a picturesque ruin in modern-day Estonia. At the time it was constructed, the city of Tallinn – where it was based – was already a trading hub and the idea to build Pirita Convent was first mooted by some of its merchants. Yet, it would take several years to begin building the convent.

Pirita Convent history

In 1407, the people of Tallinn received advice from two monks visiting from Vadstena Abbey in Sweden. It would take another decade to get the required permits to begin construction, which began in 1417. The church of Pirita Convent was finally consecrated on 15 August 1436 and had 13 altars, each dedicated to an apostle.

Pirita Convent would continue operating for some 150 years until the Protestant Reformation in Estonia in 1525, although the convent was allowed to remain functioning. Eventually the convent would suffer destruction at the hands of Russian forces in 1575 under Ivan the Terrible, whose troops sacked and looted the convent. After the attack the Pirita was abandoned while the surrounding land was used as a cemetery.

Yet despite being destroyed, the convent went on to become something of a national symbol when included in a Soviet-era film. The film tried to replicate life at Pirita and stressed the free will of the nation of Estonia against foreign forces.

Pirita Convent today

Today, the large façade, walls, cellars and graveyard survive to be a popular and attractive tourist destination as well as occasionally a concert venue during the summer. The partially restored medieval ruins are open all year round to visit, free of charge.

Getting to Pirita Convent

Nestled within the city suburbs, Pirita Convent is easily reached on buses 1A, 6, 8, 34A, 38, 114, 115, 173 and 174. The bus stop is just minutes walk from the convent ruins.