Vanaajamaja initiated a project to save the Orthodox Church of St. Nikolay in a small village called Lalsi in Southern Estonia (MAP) in 2017. The church is not only a national cultural monument (no 14541) under state protection, but also an important historical and cultural landmark, closely tied to the identity of this locality. 

The church is built of fieldstones and it has a seam roof. Roof construction is timber framed structures, which were appreciably rotten. Parts of the roof have been leaking for many years, and the ceiling has partially collapsed.

2021 Restoration workshop

It is the 5. anniversary of works at Lalsi church. A lot of people has contributed during these five summers to save Lalsi church from ruin. Lalsi church TALGUD 2022 took place on July 17-22. This year we dedicated for works inside the church. 

As most of plastering works was done by builders in June with financial help of local municipality, it allowed us to finish painting works and dismantle the interior scaffolding during the restoration workshop (talgud) in July.

The big painting works in July were followed by the conservation works with iconostasis by paint conservators. We are most grateful for the cooperation with Estonian Academy of Ars, Heritage Board, Estonian Open Air Museum department of conservation and Society of Estonian Conservators.

2020 Restoration workshop

The workshop takes place again! In August 1-6, 2020. If you are interested in restoration, heritage and hard work, come to our team. 

2019 Restoration workshop

We have already worked on that stone church for two summers. A lot is done, but the building is big enough to work some summers more.

This year’s works are wide-ranging. There are works for those who love carpentry, masonry, plastering and above all restoration. What will be done:

– works with roof of north transept: opening the roof construction, restoring wooden constructions, restoring stone walls on the roof level;
– works under the ceiling of the central dome: restoring wooden ceiling, fixing the old plaster, adding reed insulation and plastering ceiling;
– restoring of the north transept window;
– restoring and painting of cornices outside on north transept;
– restoring of the wooden hatches of bell tower.

The workshop takes place from Saturday July 20 to Thursday July 25.

2018 Restoration workshop

From June 4 – 9, 2018 restoration workshop took place at the church to exchange the roof of the main dome. The works were concentrated on timber works and repair of roof constructions. All together 30 volunteers contributed 1 400 working hours and a lot of good will.

2017 Restoration workshop

In May 2017, a workshop comprised of international volunteers was conducted on site. The main goal for the first year was to rescue the building from further damage. Over the course  of two weeks, 22 volunteers contributed  1 000 working hours to open the ceiling and damaged structures, replace the timber-framed roof structures, conduct masonry work on the roof level, repair the foundation, and restore the stairway.

Historical overview

The Orthodox Church of St. Nikolay is located in Lalsi Village, Kolga-Jaani Rural Municipality, Viljandi County. The church was built between 1871 and 1873, based on a standardized design produced by Riga architect G. Schel. Ten similar Orthodox churches were built in Arusaare, Penuja and Tuhalaane in Viljandi County, Uruste and Pootsi-Kõpu in Pärnu County, Kavilda in Tartu County and on Saaremaa Island. The construction of the church was financed by the Ministry of Interior of the Russian Empire, based on an imperial decree from 1869, regarding the construction of Orthodox churches in the Baltic provinces.

The five-domed church, which mimics the Byzantine style, is shaped like a cross and built of fieldstones. The corner towers are laid of brick and covered with render. The wooden iconostasis is covered with white oil paint and the decorations are gilt. The surviving wooden bell tower distinguishes the church from other surviving churches. During the church’s heyday, in 1891, the congregation has 2,618 members; today there are about 100 times fewer members. The church is maintained by the nonprofit EAÕK Lalsi Püha Nikolause Kogudus (member of the board Marta Suigusaar). The priest is Stefan (Ilon) Fraiman.

The church and the parish school, which is located across the street, played a vital role in the local community until World War II. And despite the religious repression during the Soviet period, the congregation survived and the church was maintained. The Estonian War of Independence monument next to the church is dedicated to the congregation members who died in Estonia’s fight for freedom. The monument was toppled when the Soviet Union annexed Estonia, and in 1988, it was the first to be publicly re-erected as the Soviet era was coming to an end. Thus, in addition to being an architectural and religious monument, the church is also an important historical and cultural monument closely tied to the identity of this locality.

Project Manager: Andres Uus, phone +372 5250 516,
Project Assistant: Piret Uus, phone + 372 566 58117,
Representative of Local Community: Sven Andreson, +372 555 99 706,