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KAARLI CHURCH

Location: N59° 25` 54.9", E24° 44` 21.0"

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Kaarli (Charles') Church is situated on Tõnismägi hill, Tallinn. It is the limestone church dedicated to Carl XI, the King of Sweden. It is the biggest 19th -century church in Estonia. There are seats for 1,500 persons.  

In ancient times there had been a holy worshipping place of Estonians and the Catholic chapel in 14th century. The first Lutheran church was built here in 17th century but it was burnt down during the Northern War. Present historicist church was inaugurated in 1872. The two towers of the west side became ready 12 years later. The oldest item in the church is one of two bells, which is more than 300 years old. The organ in the church is the biggest in Estonia. The church is the first Lutheran church of 19th century having a Latin cross plan. It has very good acoustics and the service is visible from every seat in the church because of its shape. This church's Congregation has the most members in Estonia.  

Kaarli Church is decorated with altar paintings worth seeing. The apse is decorated with a mural painting by Johann Köler, the first fresco in Estonia made by an ethnic Estonian. The painting 'Come to me...' was made in 1879 and it is depicting the calling Christ. The artist painted it in 10 days. His working days were long, 12 or even more hours. He had to paint without making any mistakes when the plaster was wet. He didn't ask money for making it.  

The model for the painting was a real person Villem Tamm. He was a coachman in Kassari manor in Hiiumaa, when the artist met him. Afterwards he became a cruel man, serving as a taskmaster and estate manager of Kassari. He was a handsome man with dark complexion. It was said that he got his looks from an Austrian ancestor who once landed there by his ship and settled down. Handsome Villem had long thick hair and short beard. Johann Köler met him in summer 1863, when he visited his friend baron von Gernet in Vaemla manor. 

Handsome Villem was quite an old man when he heard about his face above the altar of Kaarli Church. He decided to go and see it before his death, so he made it to Tallinn from Kassari. In one afternoon he entered the empty church, stood in front of the picture for a long time and said to yourself: '' Yes, we are all made after the God's face.''