Audio guide 2019-06-25T08:59:31+02:00

Audio guide

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Iisaku Museum – a cultural pearl of Ida-Virumaa County and a cultural heritage monument – lies at Tartu land road in Alutaguse.

This regional museum for local history was founded by Daniel Vardja and his wife Helmi Vardja, who moved from Tallinn to Iisaku in 1974, and then furnished a museum room at Iisaku School.

Over the years the museum has significantly grown in the number museum exhibits, the facilities and different activities; the museum has also been modernized.

The permanent exhibitions of the museum introduce the history of Ida-Virumaa County and the surroundings of Iisaku, the nature of the region and the life of its people, historical farming tools and household items, handicrafts, but also the regional firefighting history, various educational items and so on.

The museum has a total of about 23,000 items in preservation; thereof approximately 1600 are on display. Depending on the topic, the exhibition is arranged into different rooms: main hall, farm room, master’s room, old school room, room of nature, firefighting room, and teacher’s apartment.

For example, in the room of nature, one can get an overview of wild animals and birds living in the forests of Alutaguse and fish of Lake Peipus (–Peipsi järv in Estonian). In the farm room’s crop corner you can see all sorts of different farming instruments from past centuries e.g. for making flax or butter, for ploughing and many others – typical for life in this region.

The main hall features an exhibition introducing the history of the Ida-Virumaa County and Iisaku from 17th to 18th century; this was the time, when Votian people (Estonian for vadjalased) and Slavic-Russian tribes mixed in this region, evolving into specific culture of the poluvernics – so the mixed-ones or the mixed-believers.

Thanks to the museum’s sound and light solutions, it is possible to hear the sounds of local animals.
In the old ministry school room you can listen to the famous Estonian song Ema süda (meaning “Mother’s Heart”). This song was written by the Estonian national poetess Lydia Koidula and is performed by local celebrity Helend Peebu.

Iisaku Museum is also actively involved in the studies of local-regional history.

In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum also organizes thematic displays, various educational programs for school children, as well as experience programs for grown-ups.

The visitor center of Peipsimaa – Peipsimaa literally meaning the Country of Lake Peipus or Peipsi – is located in a former Old Believers’ living house in Kolkja – a unique trail-village in Tartu County at the shores of the lake.

The center was established in 2009 by the NGO Piiri Peal (or On The Border). It brings together local craftsmen and aims to maintain the regional traditions and way of life. Peipus Gallery – the Peipsi Galerii – is opened for visitors in the historical barn.

Since 2016 different exhibitions have been on display in the gallery. For example the exhibition by Jaanus Plaat “Old Believers’ prayer houses in Estonia”;
or Aunt Chura’s sewing salon”;
or the exhibition by Õie Rosalie Piir “Wall carpets of a Russian village in an Estonian farmhouse”;
or an exhibition by Ljudmilla Bulgakova showing patchwork quilts inspired by local fairytales;
as well as a collection of clothes made of hand-printed fabrics by Õnne Uus – called “In the footsteps of Prostatov”.

Handicraft and souvenirs – inspired by the local life in Lake Peipus trail-villages, postcards, Peipsimaa literature and books, as well as music – are all available at the local art- and handicrafts store. Local Peipus onion – Peipsi sibul – and garlic, may certainly not miss.

You can get a break from your adventures and re-strengthen yourself at Aunt Shura’s handicraft café, which serves local specialties: onion and fish pies, various pastries, tea from the samovar, chicory soups and salads, and chicory coffee.

In the basement of the Peipsimaa Visitor Center – formerly a chicory drying cellar – you will find the unique chicory museum, which preserves a chicory drying oven from 1893. You can get acquainted with the history of chicory cultivation in the villages at Lake Peipus, look at different instruments used for chicory growing and buy various chicory products. During the summer, visitors can walk between beds of chicory.

For the ones more interested in handicrafts, you can participate in workshops and learn the traditional ways of Old Believer’s craftsmanship. For example, you can learn how to make wax candles and artificial/ikebana flowers, or participate at workshops for metal carvings, goldsmiths and rope weaving.

It also needs to be said that the local, traditional Sinilnik-collection has received the highest appraisal as “Recognized Estonian Handicraft”.
Sinilnik’s were masters of blue fabric in Lake Peipus villages. The Sinilnik-collection was created to commemorate the local fabric printing family Prostatov; they were active in Kolkja until the beginning of the 20th century.

Peipsimaa Visitor Center also offers a variety of packages and services for spending active holidays, and organizes different events. It is possible to rent rooms for receptions and other important events.
You can order a tour guide to get personally acquainted with the region of Peipsimaa.

Life and history of Peipsimaa – so in the region at and around Lake Peipus – is unique for its Russian Old Believers, and their traditional way of living.

In the history of Peipsimaa, there have been several phases of migration. The main wave of emigration of Old Believers from Russia, which took place in 17th and 18th century, has an impact even until this day.

After the Schism – the so called church division – and because of the reforms in the Russian church, Old Believers were forced to flee Russia to escape repressions. For resettlement, the areas at the banks of Lake Peipus were suitable. Even despite all the negativism by both the Czarist and the Stalinist rule, Old Believers have been able to maintain their culture and traditions in this region until today.

In order to maintain these traditions and to introduce them to visitors, the Varnja Museum of Living History was opened in 2002, by the decision of the Varnja Family Society. In 2005, the Museum of the Living History was extended by the Fishermen Museum of Varnja.

The Musem of Living History is a permanent exhibition, which introduces life, traditions and culture of Russian Old Believers in Peipsimaa from the end of the 19th until the early 20th century. The museum displays three reviews of unique Russian Old Believers’ trail-villages: Varnja, Kasepää and Kolkja. Of those three, most Estonians used to live in Varnja.

In this small and cozy two-room museum, you can get acquainted with everyday, festive and Sunday church-going clothing of Old Believers. Old-fashioned embroidery and folk-clothing, as well as family pictures decorate the walls.

One room is furnished as a typical Old Believer’s living room with beds, table, coffer and a mirror. It also includes embroidered naperies, duvets and other textile and household items. A special place is the Corner of God.

The second room is a working room of a woman with a fabric loom, a mannequin, a spinning wheel and the like.
The museum also displays a variety of Old Believers working tools.

The museum has been furnished with much love and gives visitors an authentic experience of old times. You can find out more about the customs and vestiary traditions of Old Believers with the help of a local museum guide.
The Museum of Living History is located in Tartu County, Varnja village.

In the parish of Mustvee, in Kasepää village, the exhibition “Lake Peipus Living Room” is worth a visit. The permanent display gives an overview of life at Lake Peipus, the lake’s natural conditions, as well as shows a movie about Peipsimaa.

We learn that there are in total 37 species of fish in Lake Peipus – most of these fish can also be seen as plaster replicas. The exhibition also provides information on the food chain of the lake, the development of fish, the whole biota – from leeches to blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria).

Lake Peipus is also depicted as a large three-dimensional model of nearly 4 × 1.4 meters, showing large settlements along the shore, accommodation places, museums, observation towers and other attractions and cultural objects.

The lake model and fish replicas have transcripts in Estonian, Russian and English. More than 10 additional hands-on-exhibits add excitement to the rest of traditional displays.
It is also possible to play bird’s bingo, assemble a Peipsi puzzle, and try on fisherman’s long rubber boots.

After visiting the exhibition, there is a chance to get to know the Samovar museum or go for a walk at the beach – or perhaps for a swim in the summertime.
Behind the exhibition house, open air concerts take place during the warm season.

Educational programs are available on pre-booking for schools groups.

In the village of Leevaku in Põlvamaa County, a unique 50-meter chimney made of red brick rises high – humorously referred to as ‘the highest sauna chimney in the world’. This is a national heritage monument – the chimney of a former brick factory.

In 1923 Artur Reinomägi, a local businessman, founded a brick factory in Leevaku, which unfortunately went bankrupt quite quickly. Local raw material – the yellow clay – was of too poor quality for producing quality bricks.
Nonetheless, one of Leevaku’s symbols has been preserved – the high brick chimney with the year number 1923 and the letters A R on it: the initials of the founder.

Ferdinand Rikka has said the following:

“The brick factory was in the middle of the fields of yellow gold –the yellow clay. Clay was loaded into wagons and a small locomotive brought clay to the factory on narrow train track. The tracks led further over the Räpina highway to the shores of River Võhandu, where the bricks were loaded onto barges.
Barges took the bricks along the waterway to Räpina, where transshipment took place. There, bricks were reloaded onto ferries, which then took the bricks through Lake Peipus to Narva, Pihkva and Petseri, and along River Emajõgi to Tartu – and from there onwards to Lake Võrtsjärv.
Mr. Reinomägi cleverly used the resources of the Earth; he used the river, the lake, waterways and water energy. ”

After the closure of a factory a wooden sauna was built into the chimney – which gives reason to the mentioned joke of this being the highest sauna chimney in the world.

In the same village of Leevaku at Võhandu River, there is a hydroelectric power plant. Its history dates back to 1835, when a water mill was erected. Later on flour mills and sawmills, a wool factory, and a manufactory for greatcoats and blankets were all operating at that spot.
Already in 1910, this local business produced electricity for its own use.

The hydroelectric power station was built in 1933, but it was destroyed in the II World War. In 1947, the power plant was restored as a joint effort by the youngsters of Võrumaa County, which is reflected in the poem “The brigade of Järvesuu boys”, written by Juhan Smuul. In 1968 the plant was closed; since 1993 electricity is produced again.

During summer a small museum operates in the power plant. You can get to know the station through different exhibition stands, which introduce the history of Leevaku, as well as the Soviet-era electricity gauges.

In the middle of Ilumetsa forests, in Veriora – at southern part of Põlvamaa County – lies Meenikunno landscape protection area. It is a popular resting area among nature enthusiasts.

According to folk tales, Meenikunno or Meenikund got its name from the male first name of Meeni, who built his home on a marsh island; and kund – an archaic Estonian word for uplands surrounding the swamps.

The bog of Meenikunno was formed as a result of terrestrial swamping of sandy areas, more than 8000 years ago. The bog’s mineral resources or layers are saturated with water; the sands below it lay only partially, so the swamp sort of “hangs in the air”.

To protect the bog, a natural preservation area was founded in 1981, which was rearranged into a nature reserve in 2015 – in order to guarantee a better protection of both the marsh, and the adjacent lakes. Largest lakes are Nohipalu Mustjärv (black lake), one of the lakes with the brownest water in Europe, and Nohipalu Valgjärv (whitlake), one of the lakes with most transparent water in Estonia. Both lakes are great for bathing and fishing.

Dry land of the landscape protection area occupies 2991 hectares; inland water bodies remain under 36 hectares.

For nature enthusiasts there’s a 2.4-km-long boardwalk, along which a diverse bog landscape with its ecosystems is preserved.

The bog is rich in flora and avifauna. For example, rare plants can be found there – like Water Lobelia, Pleurospermum austriacum, Lake Quillwort, and a variety of different orchids.

Protected birds include the white-backed woodpecker, grouse, great grey shrike, whimbrel and the sea hawk. During autumn geese and cuckoos stop for resting here.

Due to its rich bird life, Meenikunno is listed as an area of international importance of avifauna, as well as within the European Natura network.

The bog also has several islets, which are mainly covered with fine pine forests; but there are also diverse grove forests. Most well-known islets are Pähnisaar and Pikksaar – the latter reaches several meters above the bog surface, which allows hikers to enjoy the view on the surrounding marshy landscape.

There is a small hut and campfire site for hikers in the Liipsaare forest. The house has a stove, a fireplace and even berths for overnight stays. A little further – towards the edge of the bog – there is a 11-meter-high tower overlooking the islets and marshland. There, at the bog’s verge, you find another lake with several islets – a hiking trail leads by up to the sandbar surrounding the Meenikunno bog. This place is also known as Kamarusmäe.
Here you’ll find the “Sunset House” for hikers along with a campfire site. Due to higher grounds, you have a good view to the eastern part of the bog, as well the possibility to enjoy a sunset to the west.

Mehikoorma is considered to be the oldest inhabited site at the shores of Lake Peipus. For the first time, the settlement was mentioned in during the Ice Battle between the German Order and Russian troops in 1242. Today, Mehikoorma is a small townlet with approximately 300 inhabitants in Räpina parish, Põlvamaa County. It is located at Lake Lämmijärv on its western coast – at the narrowest place of larger Lake Peipus. The opposite shore of Lake Lämmijärv is separated from Mehikoorma only by 2, 6 kilometers of shallow water.
Strategic importance here lies in the state border between Estonia and Russia.

Lake Lämmijärv is remembered by elderly inhabitants to have been so narrow, that during bread baking one could even borrow a bread spade from the other shore. The relations between two sides were friendly, as evidenced by the fact that there are still people from different nationalities in local families.

The Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord is worth seeing – its history dates back to years 1931-1933 and it was designed by an Estonian-Russian architect Anatoly Podshekayev.

There are a number of artifacts in the church, for instance six-light and sixteen-light ceiling chandeliers, and the tower bell.

Unfortunately, the Lutheran Church of Mehikoorma is in ruins after the war. The congregation, however, continues to operate in the pastorate building.

Mehikoorma cemetery is also listed as a national heritage site; it is located near to the village’s main road and houses the common memorial grave to those killed in World War II.

Another beautiful sight is the 3-meter-diameter lighthouse of Mehikoorma. It’s the tallest lighthouse on the shores of Lake Peipus, reaching 15 meters in height.

First references about target fire – which lit the shipping routes to the north to island Piirisaar, and towards south to Sausaar, – date from World War I. A blinking wooden fire-tank as a lighthouse was first set up in 1929, which was in 1938 replaced by a newer version made of concrete.

The white concrete lighthouse with a balcony is overlooking the beautiful sandy beach, the shimmering water, the Mehikoorma village and the distant border of the Russian countryside.

As always with coastal areas, the port plays a crucial role. Nowadays, the port Mehikoorma not only serves local fishermen, but is a site for many cultural events such as ice festivals and nature barge trips.

Virumaa County at Lake Peipus has a number of beautiful holiday resorts with sandy beaches.

Rannapungerja village is located in the parish of Alutaguse at the northern shore of the lake, at the mouth of the Rannapungerja River. In addition to the shimmery lake water, lyrical views, beach pines and sand dunes – guests are welcomed to visit the boat harbor, the historic postal building and the whitish lighthouse.

For the first time Rannapungerja is mentioned in 1534, when the manor is referred to as ‘the manor next to Pagari manor’ (Estonian for baker’s manor – in German Ranna-Pungern).
Pagari manor used to be a knight’s manor in Jõhvi parish in Virumaa.

In the 17th century, Rannapungerja was marked on Swedish maps as Pungern. Already since 1709 there was a post office in the village. In 1735 – when the horse station was moved from the not too distant Kauksi to Rannapungerja – the place gained significant importance as a hub between the provinces of Estonia and Livonia.

Rannapungerja was one of the largest post stations in terms of the number of postal horses, different logistical buildings, as well as by the size of the main postal building. The postal station included the main building, stables, barn, quarters of postal servants (known as “the mail boys” or postipoisid), and the smithy.

The main post office building was 31 meters long and would fit up to 66 horses. The new main building was completed in 1825. Unfortunately, both the main building and the adjacent buildings have been destroyed.
Nowadays, only one building from the former post station complex has survived – a wooden guesthouse typical for that period.

Just like in old days, the tavern was set up close by for resting, refreshments and proper drinking. Although Rannapungerja was an Estonian village, it is known that for example in 1806, the tavern-owner was a Russian local named Porfilev.

An important landmark is the lighthouse of Rannapungerja from 1937. Located in the nature protection area of Järvevälja, at its feet you can visit the wooden observation deck with a beautiful view of the lake and the surrounding countryside.

A local summer tradition – the music festival called Tuletorni (Estonian for lighthouse) – has also received its name from the lighthouse, and attracts many different musicians from Virumaa and the whole of Estonia every year.
The music event is led by Ilmar and Guido Kangur, as well as Pille Lukin-Kangur.

Another attraction is located in the village: a medieval burial place. The underground “cemetery” is a listed archaeological heritage site.

In the parish of Alutaguse – further beyond the coastal areas of Lake Peipus – you’ll find the hidden gem of Ida-Virumaa County, the manor of Mäetaguse.

The former knight manor, founded by Peter von Tiesenhausen, was first mentioned in 1542. Many owners changed over the centuries; from 1736 until the expropriation in 1919, the manor belonged to noble family of von Rosen; the last owner of the manor was Konstantin von Rosen.
In total 14 buildings have been preserved in the manor ensemble.

The two-story early classicistic main building was erected during the reign of Eugenius Octave von Rosen in 1796.
In 1890 the main building underwent extensive repairs. The design of the current main building, as well as of most of the surrounding buildings, dates back to this period. The last renovation of the building took place in the early 1990-s. Since 1997 the manor house is listed as a cultural heritage monument.

The main building of the mansion is a real attraction – it’s a representative, richly decorated mansion with an impressive interior. The jewels of the house are the historicist ceiling painting in the lobby, 2 bronze lion sculptures, two centuries-old oak doors and a wooden staircase.
The walls are decorated with friezes in wreath and palm motives. The ceiling edges are decorated by a belt of bay leaves.

Nowadays the manor houses a hotel, a restaurant and a bathing house. The renovated spirits granary is suitable for celebrating important events and organizing receptions.

Further interesting sites are the handicraft house and huntsman museum to the right of the manor.
The manor can be visited on pre-booking.
3 kilometers northwest of the manor, at the top of a high hill, there is neo-gothic funeral chapel of the von Rosen family.

Further beyond the coast of Lake Peipus, almost 3 kilometers from the Kuremäe monastery in Ida-Virumaa County, you’ll find the Illuka manor – a former knight manor located in Alutaguse parish, village of Illuka.

Written sources refer to Illuka Manor in 1657. The manor has belonged to various owners over several centuries.
In 1888, a more representative manor house was erected during the ownership of the noble Dieckhof family. After subsequent restorations, the manor has survived to this day in this form.
During the same era, most side-buildings to the north and to the west of the main building were renovated. Those that have survived to this day, have been rebuilt to lesser or greater extent.

The grand historicist main building with its neo-gothic quill and neo-renaissance-style arches, stands in the middle of a beautiful park. Erected in the 19th century, this 3.6-hectare park is significant for the manor complexes heritage, representing a typical free-form manor park.

In total there are 36 different types of trees; mostly fir, linden, birch, oak, ash and maple. On the front square there are Siberian larches and Alpine cedar pines. Bushes are represented by lilac, mock orange, Siberian pea-tree or caragana, the germander meadowsweet and false spiraea.

Since 1921 Illuka School is located in the manor house.
Behind the main building there’s a sports and catering facility.

The Illuka manor complex is open to public. With notice you can get information about the past and present of the manor, as well as participate in workshops and spend leisure time.

The manor also offers accommodation and catering on pre-booking, as well as facilities for different events.

Avinurme – a place full of Lake Peipus regional traditions – is located in Virumaa, Mustvee parish, at River Avijõe.

According to an ancient legend, people of Avinurme complained to Kalevipoeg – the ancient folk hero of Estonians – that they had no fish. Kalevipoeg, who made notice of these complaints, promised to help by bringing the pike fish (in old Estonian: havid) from Lake Peipus right up to River Avijõgi. So the place was given the name Avinurme – meaning something like Field of Pike.

In 1599 the village Awinorma has been first mentioned – located in the middle of vast, isolated forests. Situated like this in midst of these forests, where farmlands were also marshy – meaning that farm works didn’t really pay off – one had to think of other activities and sources of income. Already since the 18th century these activities mainly included woodworks and making wooden household instruments.
In the second half of the 19th century, Avinurme was the most important place for making wooden dishes in Estonia.

Most of these wooden products were traded on markets and fairs. Barrel fair tradition lives on until nowadays. Since 2000, Avinurme holds the barrel fair every year at midsummer St. John’s Day.

In order to preserve and develop local cultural heritage, the Avinurme Lifestyle Center was established in 2008; it’s located only half an hour’s drive away from the largest towns of Virumaa – Jõhvi and Rakvere.

The Lifestyle Center introduces regional skills, traditions and culture, passed on in Avinurme from generation to generation. With a local tour guide you can get to know the activities of Avinurme’s most valued masters.

The permanent exposition – “Life born of wood” – displays wooden items created by local craftsmen during different periods. The abundant selection includes barrels, racks, baskets, utensils, furniture and other beautiful woodwork.

The second exposition – “Hunting as a Way of Life” – introduces the other side of the Avinurme lifestyle: hunting, wild animals and their life in nature. Various stuffed wild animals are on display.

Different workshops and trainings are held in the center, where masters teach how to make regional handicraft. Accommodation and catering is offered on pre-booking. Wooden products can be purchased at the on-site shop.

Avinurme has a unique cultural heritage, beautiful nature, and many possibilities for recreation and leisure.

The museum to honor the well-known Estonian writer, Juhan Liiv (1864-1913) and his brother Jakob Liiv (1859-1938), is located in Tartumaa County, Peipsiääre parish, Rupsi village.

Juhan Liiv – a truly national poet – unfortunately had a very tragic life; nonetheless almost every Estonian knows some lines of his poetry by heart. He was fascinated about Lake Peipus, which is located not far away from his home farm behind the forests.

The open-air exhibition of the museum introduces the peasant farm life in Estonian countryside in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the home of the Liiv-brothers – the Oja farm – visitors can see the drying barn and the smoke sauna with many everyday items typical of the time.

The exhibition house shows a permanent exhibition “If I Were a Poet,” which is dedicated to life and creative work of Juhan Liiv.

There’s a yearly creative competition held every spring for school children and the museum issues Juhan Liiv poetry prizes – therefore items and information dedicated to this topic are displayed as well.

In the office building you can see an exhibition about Kodavere cultures “Kodavere – a Good Big Chunk of Parish”.
In summertime there are often temporary exhibitions.

Schools can order different educational programs, seminars, workshops and camps. Visitors can also book a tour guide.

The museum shop offers numerous publications related to Juhan Liiv and to Kodavere.

A really special guesthouse awaits visitors in Varnja Village – located at Lake Peipus, in Tartumaa County, Peipisääre parish.
If you want to learn more about the traditional way of life of the Old Believers, you can do so in this unique holiday home, where you can also stay overnight.

Guesthouse “Mesi Tare Kodumaja” operates in a genuine Old Believers house and provides an opportunity to peek into their community and lifestyle. It is possible to get information about their customs, religion, architecture and food.

There is no running water in the house – everything works just like it was in these villages in old times; e.g. water comes from the well, saunas are there for washing, and entertainment is provided by the surroundings.
Guesthouse and garden is accessible to the visitors.

At Mesi Tare every object has its own history and items have been given a new life cycle; even during renovations natural and recycled materials were used as much as possible. Due to this, Mesi Tare guesthouse was the first accommodation institution in Estonia to be accredited with the “EHE” ecological and quality label.

The house is meticulously furnished with local textiles and typical regional items. The peculiarity of this exhibition is that when in a regular museum one can just look at most exhibits, then in Mesi Tare these items can actually be touched and used, so visitors can feel right at home.

An interesting interior artifact is in the back room – the lesanka, an old “hotbed“or stove top. On cold winter days one can lie down and listen to the fire cracking in the stove.

Mesi Tare offers a variety of services: different saunas such as the Finnish sauna, smoke sauna, a special hothouse or green-house sauna, and a tent sauna, as well as a hot tub. It is possible to rent boats, bicycles, order a boat trip and cruises on Lake Peipus. In wintertime there’s lake taxi or lake safari on a karakatits – these are self-built cars with huge wheels, – or sleigh rental.

There are also various workshops, such as introduction to fishermen’s life or to Peipsiveere coastal tea culture.

Mesi Tare is a piece of the unique Peipsiveere way of living – the old and the genuine carefully preserved.

Piirissaar is the largest lake in Lake Peipus, although its area is only 7.5 km² and the number of inhabitants is fairly modest. The island is located in Tartumaa County on the border of Lake Peipus and Lake Lämmijärv, 15 kilometers southeast of the mouth of the River Emajõgi.

Ship connection is either via the port of Piirisaare, or from Laaksaare harbor 10 km further.

The name of the island corresponds to its location – the Russian-Estonian border lies at its eastern shore. In old days Piirissaare island was shared by the Bishop of Tartu/Dorpat, and the city of Pihkva/Pskov. Later during the Czarist Rule, when the island belonged to Livonia and to the city of St. Petersburg, the border is said to have run directly through the island.

The first record of the island of Piirisaar dates back to 1370 in the Chronicles of Pskov, describing the quarrels between Germans and Pskovians about the island of Želatšek (Gelachek). Later on the island has carried names like Klitsaar, Porka, Solsar and Selsar. Only since the 18th century the island is called Piirissaar – literally meaning the Border Island.

The island was permanently inhabited by Russian Old Believers during the Great Northern War, who fled Russia due to the Orthodox Church reform, or The Schism.
Even nowadays the inhabitants are mostly Old Believers. Unfortunately, the number of inhabitants is constantly decreasing. Tour operators are organizing boat trips to the island, so the tourism is still fairly active.

The main activities on this island are fishing and growing onions.

Visitors should pay attention to the unique nature. Namely, the island is an unwooded lowland, which stretches only 1 to 2 meters above Lake Peipus water level. The marshlands are inhabited by protected amphibians, such as the common spadefoot or the green toad. There are also mammals such as beaver, elk, wild boar, raccoon dog (or mangut); as well as a variety of birds, both local and migrating ones (for example, cormorants, great egret etc.).

Piirisaar is a nature protection region and listed as a European Natura 2000 area, as well an internationally significant wetland according to Ramsar Convention.

A further sight is the stone St. Peter and Paul church, which is fairly well-preserved. When walking along the village paths you can have a look at typical houses and gardens.

Unfortunately, the prayer house of the Old Believers cannot be currently be visited; the fire of 2016 destroyed several wooden buildings along with the historical prayer house.

The village of Süvahavva is located in Põlvamaa County, Räpina parish, on the Võhandu River – the region is highly recommended to visitors who love culture and nature.

The village represents one of Southern Estonia’s 21 main sights which are marked with the Yellow Window by National Geographic.

Over the course of history, Võhandu River has dug deep into the sandstone, thus forming unique outcrops. One of the local sights is the 16-meter-high Viira mill wall on the left bank of the river, which is also called Viira Taevaskoja or Viira Veskikalju – so Viira Heaven Hall or Viira Mill Rock.

Kalmatemäe and Sõjatare sand outcrops are also beautiful natural sights.

Close to the village of Süvahavva, there’s also the small Süvahavva swamp, and a natural holy shrine called Uku’s Cave (Uku koobas). The cave is located there, where the Võhandu River flows eastwards before reaching Süvahavva. At one point the river makes a small twist to the North: Uku’s Cave is located at the end of this curve.

A water mill was erected at the riverside between 1900 and 1915, which is now the Village House. Building monuments are the Viira watermill, the Süvahavva watermill dwelling, and the watermill dyke.

On the banks of the river there’s a white stone building, housing the Süvahavva wool factory museum. You can familiarize yourself with the old wool processing technologies, as well as have your own wool span into yarn. The local souvenir store Villakalli Puut sells woolen products and other local crafts.

Upon request guided excursions can be arranged at the factory.

It’s also worth visiting the Süvahavva Nature Farm, located just 800 meters from the wool factory. This lifestyle farm cultivates and sells more than 40 teas and herbs.

Võõpsu townlet and Võõpsu village – once considered an important trade and harbor site – are located in Põlvamaa County, near Võhandu River. Lake Lämmijärv is about three kilometers from here. Võõpsu is also considered to be the beginning of historical Setomaa region.

First references of Võõpsu date back to 1428, when the chronicles describe ongoing border disputes. However, people have been settling here – at the gates of Setomaa – already much earlier.
A treasure found near Võõpsu dates back to the 1st part of the 11th century, which means that people were inhabiting this area already around the years 800–1050.

In the middle of the 13th century, Võõpsu had small wooden defense towers and a harbor.

In the following centuries Võõpsu has been mentioned in various chronicles, although under different names, such as Webbeke, Weipso, Wibowsky.
Võõpsu was an important site for transporting goods en route from Livonia to the border town of Pskov.

The second half of the 19th century brought along several industrial manufactures e.g. leather tanning and engine milling, as well as a pottery. Known as the Capital of Seto potters, Võõpsu had dense transportation of goods and passengers via its harbor. Võõpsu was also famous for trade fairs. The most important commodity back then was flax.

Võõpsu street-village grew and developed – mainly due to excellent fishing from lakes Peipus and Pihkva-Pskov, and from the Võhandu River.

Large fires, including the fire of 1939 – when quarter of a settlement burned down –, as well as a result of wars, the importance of the settlement declined. Ship connection from the port also terminated.

Today the preserved orthodox St. Nicholas Church is a local sight, with 18th century icons “St. Gennadius,” and “Birth of Holy Mother”.
There is a small wooden Seto chapel in Võõpsu – called Tsässon – as it used to be in every decent Setomaa village.

Additionally you can have a look at the fire depot and a well-preserved old cobblestone road.

Positive developments can be seen in the harbor, as the quay is being reconstructed. The restoration of the historical harbor – an important cultural heritage site – will help to revitalize the region’s culture and intensify ship traffic on River Võhandu and Lake Lämmijärv.