Moravian Church prayer house

18th C

The Moravian Church prayer house was built in 1780 on Paka farm in Tuiu village, Mustjala parish. Brought to the museum in 1965. Such Moravian Church prayer houses started to be built around 1730, when the movement gained many followers.

A simple building with Spartan furnishings and featuring a ‘black kitchen’ – uncommon in Estonia – reflects the tenets of the religious movement – humility, piety and belief in redemption through Christ´s sacrifice and belief in the resurrection.

At the centre of the edifice is the roovialune – a fireproof ‘black’ kitchen with stone walls and a clay-daubed pleached wicker ceiling. In the corner is an open hearth where the prayer room’s stoves were also stoked. The smoke is exhausted through a log chimney. This, a so-called Franck heating system, is seen in Estonian farm architecture only in western Saaremaa.

1 – praying chamber, 2 – ‘black kitchen’, 3 – sleeping chamber, 4 – entrance chamber

Did you know?

  • In 1730, a full Estonian translation of the Bible was published with support from Count von Zinzendorf, which laid the basis for the written Estonian language. Thanks to the Moravian Church, Estonians’ reading and writing skills improved.
  • F.R. Kreutzwald, J. Hurt, J.V. Jannsen, C.R. Jakobson and many other Estonian cultural figures of that era had a Moravian Church background.
  • It was the Moravian Church congregations that adopted the name “Estonians”.
  • The Moravian Church brought polyphonic choral song to churches and laid the basis for the first choirs and wind ensembles in Estonia.
  • The Moravian Church had its share of extremists. The former overseer of Haanja manor, Tallima Paap propagated total asceticism, organising lashings of himself and apostles, sermonising about abstinence even from conjugal relations within marriage, and the redistribution of manors to Moravian Church members. For this, he was tried in Tartu County Court, after which Paap gave up his extremist activism and continued following conventional Moravian principles.
  • The museum’s prayer house features recordings of Moravian Church songs.