When wandering around Tallinn, Estonia, you’re bound to find little alcoves, tiny courtyards, and winding streets that make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. Saint Catherine’s Dominican Monastery, one of the oldest buildings in the city, is one such place. But upon closer inspection, it becomes evident there are two things for visitors to explore at the medieval site, not just one.
You can choose to go up the stairs to the left and enter the main part of the monastery where the monks lived. Or, you can decide to head to the right where an open iron gate and wooden doors lead to a steep staircase that, despite descending into a deep gloom, somehow still looks promising. At the bottom of this staircase, beneath the interior courtyard, you can find a display with an old book of photos and writing that offers a tidbit of the history of the Dominican monks.
The room opens into a series of connected cellars where monks worked from 1246 to 1524. There’s an enormous fireplace in one part, and if you follow the narrow hallways back deeper into the rooms, you’ll discover a small, blocked off stairway (maybe a shortcut?) up to the surface. There is also a nice sitting area under an alcove.
These ancient underground rooms hold original works of art for sale by the the man who currently rents the space, an artist named Aleksandr Savchenkov. The artist is usually in the small gallery, called Ichthus Art Gallery, constructing new pieces while the occasional visitor mills about among the watercolor paintings and Savchenkov’s for-sale work, to a muted soundtrack of Latin chants playing from a discreet CD player.
Know Before You Go
There is a donation box underneath the map of the monastery. They request a donation but no amount is set.