The Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is situated on the hill of Toompea, opposite the Estonian parliament buildings and Toompea Castle. The cathedral is as popular with visiting tourists as it is with people of Orthodox faith. It is dedicated to the Russian hero St. Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod, who saw off German invaders at the 13th-century Battle of the Ice at Lake Peipus.
The cathedral, which is Tallinn’s largest, was built in a classical Russian Revival style by Mikhail Preobrazhensky between 1894 and 1900 – a period when Estonia was part of the tsarist Russian Empire – and strategically placed on the former site of a statue of Martin Luther. As a result, the cathedral is the subject of controversy with some Estonian nationalists calling for its destruction.
The cathedral features the onion domes, typical of Russian Orthodox churches, and the interior is filled with mosaics, icons, paintings and ornate gold leaf decorations. If you time your visit to coincide with the beginning of a service, you will be able to hear the full assembly of the church’s 11 bells, including the largest in Tallinn.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is open to visitors every day and there is no to charge to go inside.