St. Catherine’s Church

St. Catherine’s Church is the oldest Orthodox church in Pärnu. It was built in the 18th century under the patronage of the great Russian Empress Catherine II. The church has been open for more than 200 years and during that time it has never been closed.

History of the Church of St. Catherine

The first Orthodox Church in Pärnu appeared during the Great Northern War, when the city was taken by Russian troops. The first parish appeared here in 1710. Before St. Catherine’s church was located on its place the church of the Dormition of the Mother of God with the side-altar of the prince Gabriel-Vsevolod. But by the middle of XVIII century the church had fallen into decay, and its repair was considered inexpedient.

The construction of a new church began after Catherine II visited Pärnu in 1764. The empress personally granted funds for the construction of the church and closely monitored their use. The church building was designed by the architect Pavel Egorov. In 1769 the church was consecrated in the name of the Assumption of the Mother of God, but soon it was renamed in the Catherine Church.

Architectural features

The exterior of the Church of Great Martyr Catherine in Pärnu is sustained in the Baroque style. In the center of the building rises a dome with a lantern surrounded by four towers. A baroque bell tower rises in the western part of the church.

Inside, the building is decorated with an elegantly composed three-tier iconostasis. There are three revered icons in the temple: the icon of Great Martyr Catherine, the icon of Prince Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God.

Location on the city map

Address of St. Catherine Church:
Vee 8, Pärnu

Which Patriarchate?

St. Catherine the Great Martyr Church in Pärnu belongs to the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Services are held in Russian. Services in Estonian are held at the Church of the Transfiguration, which belongs to the Constantinople Patriarchate.

Orthodox churches in other cities

  • On the seashore in Haapsalu stands the Church of Mary Magdalene. Its yellow walls are hidden behind young trees.
  • The only holy relics in Estonia are on display at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Rakvere.
  • The stronghold of Orthodoxy in Estonia is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, located in Tallinn.