Travel guide



This architectural memorial was built at the beginning of the 15th century. The vaults of the longitudinal building with a unusual square-shaped basic design plan were destroyed during the wars at the beginning of the 17th century. Major re-construction works took place in 1835 and 1876. The oldest pulpit (dating from the 16th century) in the Baltic countries, is located in this church, and also the chandelier presented by the Swedish King Karl XII in the year 1699, and a collection box dating from 1755. The altar wall, styled in Neo-Gothic manner, was manufactured in 1890, in Tartu, in
L. Bandelier's workshop, the creator of the altar painting, 'Christ on the Cross' was R.J. v.z. Mühlen. A memorial plate, for those, who perished in the Liberation War, was opened on August 15th, 1991. The 33 metre-high steeple serves as a good landmark for sailors on the lake.


The 200 m long and up to 8 m high Mid-Devonian sandstone (so-called Old Red) bedrock denudation, currently under nature protection, already became famous in the 19th century, as the location where fossil placoderm fish were found. Along the edge of the denudation, there is a hiking track, approximately two kilometres long, with completed stairways and picnic places.


The so-called Dutch type windmill with
a turning head has been preserved in Tamme village, being one of the most relevant landmarks for those on the lake.


Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly was born on Dec. 27, 1761 in North Lithuania. During 1810-1812 he was the Secretary of War in Russia. He was the leader of the Russian Army, but due to his unpopularity he was dismissed from the post. After the death of M. Kutuzov in May 1813 he regained his title as the commander-in-chief of the Russian Army. After leaving the army Barclay de Tolly settled down in his manor in Jõgeveste. He died on May 26, 1818., his body was embalmed and in 1832 placed in a mausoleum, designed by a well-known Russian architect Apollon Schedrin. The monument in the mausoleum is the work of a famous sculptor Vassily Demut-Malinovsky. The sarcophagi of the count and countess Barclay de Tolly are in a cellar, which is accessible through a hole in the floor of the mausoleum. Next to the tomb there is the burial place of Barclay de Tolly's son Ernst Magnus (1789-1871) and his wife Leocadie (1807-1852).


Rannu rural municipality council building is situated separately in the forest. The brick council and court building was blessed in 1902. Near the rural municipality council building, there is a victory fire altar. Further away, in Palupää forest, there is a mass grave of those, who perished during World War II with a memorial monument. The graveyard in Vallapalu was established around 1775. The earth-stone chapel was built during the 1880s, the gates of the cemetery were blessed in 1933. The parents of poet Jakob Tamm, Mai and Aadu, the founding member of the 'Vanemuine' Society, Jüri Laas, the founder of the Treffner gymnasium, Fritz Taubel, the parish clerk and schoolmaster Jakob Pehrna, and other cultural figures are buried here. On August 27, 1931, the memorial, for those who perished during the Liberation War, was opened in the graveyard; it was destroyed in 1949. Since 1976, Ole Ehelaid's statue 'Rannu's Mother' stands on the site of the memorial.


The Apostolic-Orthodox church was built during 1899-1901 and blessed on May 5 1905, in the honour of Jesus' going to Jerusalem. The activities of the Orthodox congregation were terminated in 1961, the building was used as the storehouse of the local kolkhoz. During the 1980s, the Rannu state farm decided to redeem the injustice and restored the church building. The initial goal was to use the church for ceremonial purposes. However, when the Estonian New-Apostolic Church congregation emerged in Rannu, they rented the ceremonial building. Public concerts have been organised in the church as the good acoustics of the building contribute much to a performance. The family doctor in Rannu has his practice in the parsonage.


The Rannu vassal stronghold was founded in the mid-13th century, by the Dolen kinship of Livonian origin. The tragic love-story of Barbara v. Tiesenhusen, daughter of Rannu's lord of the manor, had inspired and provided material for Aino Kallas and other writers. The fortress was destroyed by Russian troops during the Livonian War. The park surrounded with a wall and bordered by former manor buildings, and the pond that used to surround the stronghold, are under conservation. Those interested in sports have the opportunity to use the field for ball games in the manor park.


It is one of the most beautiful and popular recreational sites on the Easternshore. Here is the boulder Neitsikivi (Virgin rock); the steplike shores of the lake are called Trepimäe (Stairhill). The beach is suitable for bathing. The ancient Vehendi village is one of the oldest in the Rannu parish and in this area. Lands were already being cultivated at least 2500 years ago.


Launched in 1954, this research centre focuses on Estonian inland waters, the main task being the elaboration of scientific bases for economic utilisation and protection of Estonian inland water bodies. The centre carries out fundamental and applied studies and its staff teaches the students of the Institute of Zoology and Hydrobiology within Tartu University. The cornerstone of the main building was laid down on May 6, 1961; Aleksander Niine designed the greenery. The station has its own port.


The little islet, with an area of less than a hectare, stretches some metres above the level of Lake Võrtsjärv. The island could be the remains of a larger surface form, being surrounded by reedy lowland and several cairns. Tondisaar has offered shelter to those looking for solitude. A recreation ground has been built, offering a campfire site. It has been requested not to visit the island before the end of the nesting season, preferrably not before July 15.


A little bog lake, approximately 2 kilometres to the east of Võrtsjärv, with an area of about 23 hectares, surrounded by bog pinery. It is possible to approach the water from the northern shore, but the rest of the lake is bordered by a marshy land strip. There is a lot of evidence of beavers' activities at Mustjärv, it also possible to order a tour guide on the beaver track. Blackberries, cranberries, lingonberries, blueberries and mushroom can be picked in the neighbourhood of Lake Mustjärv. The Marjasoo farm, specialising in forest berry growing, is in the vicinity.


This upland, also known as Ervumägi and Rannu's Munamägi (Egghill), is actually the northern part of the 6 km-long Valguta great drumlin, reaching 99 m above sea level and approximately 65 metres above the water level in Lake Võrtsjärv. People connect the name of Tulimägi with the lighting of fire signals during the St. George's night rebellion in 1343.


First facts regarding Valguta date from 1582, with an independent manor being founded in the 17th century. There is a large manor park, relatively rich in species, located near the Rannu-Rõngu road, where Valguta Kindergarten-Elementary School is operating, in a building constructed in 1936. The poet Ernst Enno (1875-1934) was born in the Köödsa inn that belonged to Valguta manor, this place is denoted with a memorial stone.


Lapetukme village is one of the oldest in the former Rannu parish, mentioned in 1418. Lõve mill on the Rõngu River unfortunately is not operating today. Paaslangi valley used to be the historical border of Rannu and Rõngu parishes.


Koruste is one of the oldest villages in Rõngu parish, it was first mentioned in 13th century. Juka farm was the last homeplace of Estonian composer Aleksander Läte (1860-1948). The primeval oak tree (circumference 3,8 m, height 22 m) is taken under protection. Memorial stones of composer Aleksander Läte, painter Elmar Kits (1913-1972) and journalist Kusta Toom (1892-1973) are placed in the road of Rõngu - Pikasilla.


The cemetery was established near the Tõrva road in 1811 and expanded in 1891. This is the last resting place of parish clerk and musician Carl Rossmann, journalist Jüri Reinvald, composer Aleksander Läte, writer Jaan Kärner's parents Kaarel and Liis, a man of muscle Aleksander Sannik, botanist Karl Eichwald, journalist Kusta Toom, poet and language professor Ivar Ivask, etc.


The church, dedicated to Archangel Michael, is the oldest building in Rõngu and the only single-nave church in South-Estonia. Being probably built at the end of the 14th century, the church was severely damaged during the Livonian War and Great Northern War. The western steeple was erected in 1863 and major reconstruction took place during 1900-1901. The bell was cast in 1799 and the organ manufactured in 1874, by W. Müllverstedt. The church has stained glass windows, made by masters from Riga, dating from the year 1900, and L. Otto's altar painting 'Calvary' from 1901.


This arc-shaped building, completed around 1820 (master builder J.Fr. Zwiegmann), is one of the most interesting examples of gentility in the classical style. The former inn and post station building is located on the cross-roads of the Tartu-Valga-Riga and Pikasilla-Pärnu routes. Pub-tradition in this place goes far back in history: the place has already been mentioned in 1684 and in 1693, there was a stopping and horse exchange station here. Crooked Inn (Kõver Kõrts) was renovated in 1989, there is also a shop operating in the building. In front of the inn, on the square, there is a restored Liberation War monument, first blessed on September 30, re-opened on May 21, 1995.


This is a plateau-shaped moraine ridge, with an approximately one-kilometre long diameter, on the northern side of Rõngu settlement. As becomes evident from the name, on Hiugemägi (sacred forest hill) there was an ancient sacred grove and burial site. The victims of the great plague and hunger were also buried in Hiugemägi. This is also said to the beginning for the underground path. During the times of the lords of the manor, this hill was also used as the burial place for Count Mannteuffel's family. The hill is covered with thick mixed forest, with a number of various tree species. Open-air activities take place on the song festival ground, built on the slope of the primeval valley.


Two kilometres to the north-west of the Rõngu settlement, there is the Lossimägi (Castle Hill), where the Rõngu vassal fortress was located. The exact construction period for the free-shaped castle-type fortress is not known, being probably completed around 1340. The Holy Cross Chapel, located here, was mentioned in the year 1413. During the Middle Ages, the stronghold belonged to the Tödwen family. The fortress was destroyed by the troops of the Order in 1558 and burnt by Jesuits in 1625. The majority of the castle's layout is not visible over the ground surface. An approximately 25-metre-long section from the outer wall of the eastern side has been preserved, there is also the opening of the main gate. The ruins have not been conserved and fall down gradually. The castle hill is surrounded by a 12-hectare park, which has beautiful majestic oaks, larches and other ancient trees.


Since 1557, there have been references regarding the Aakre Manor (Aicker, Ayakar, Kawrimoise), which probably belonged to the Kawers in the beginning. Historically, Aakre was part of Rõngu parish in Tartu County. Currently, there is Aakre Kindergarten-Primary School operating in the former manor house and the manor-park is an exciting place to see. In the park, there is a common grave from World War II, with a memorial monument.


The stronghold in the vicinity of Aakre, in Palamuse village (1 km to the east from the road) is also known by the name Pangamägi. This is a 6-12-metre-high separate sandy hill, with Verioja flowing on its northern edge. The north-eastern slope of the hill is the highest, the north-western side is terraced. The stronghold area extends from the rest of the oblong elevation resembling a 3-4 m high terrace, covered by a 0,35-0,5 m cultural layer.


Reports on the Vana-Puka (Old-Puka) manor (Perende, Buxhöwdenshof) date from the year 1529, when Michael Buxhöwden' father obtained this as a demesne manor. The manor got its name during the 2nd half of the 16th century, according to v. Bock, the owner. In 1954, a secondary school was opened in Puka, a four-storey annex was attached to the school building during the years 1978-1981. In the rear of Puka railway station, there is an original architectural item - a former dwelling house of a flax merchant together with a barn-storehouse (1914, design by Karl Burman senior). On the north-eastern border of Puka, in Komsi village, there is a Baptist house of worship and a graveyard.


This ancient stronghold hill on the shore of Lake Võrtsjärv was in use during the 2nd millennium. The height of the moraine hill is 10-11 metres, length being 44 m and the width 34 metres. The locality of the stronghold was of great strategic importance, and its vicinity was densely populated. People still talk about the passages and cellars hidden under the ground in the Vooremäe drumlin.


An old junction of roads with a bridge and an inn. Earlier, a draft was used to cross the River Väike-Emajõgi. The settlement and the bridge were destroyed during World War II. In September 1944, extremely bloody battles took place here, between the fortified German troops and the attacking Red Army. Near the road, there is a common grave for perished soldiers and an obelisk. There is a shop, schoolhouse and a song festival stage in the settlement. During summer, Pikasilla Basic School offers accommodation. Camps are organised in the stadium in summer, there is also a gym and fields for ball games. Pikasilla Basic School organises catering for camps and out-door events. AS Merts bar in the petrol station near the road provides catering on a regular basis. There are two landing places in the village and two swimming areas, both in good condition. Pikasilla pinery is of great scenic value - regarding both the association of tree and beautiful views to Väike Emajõgi River and to Vooremägi. Local people call this place Pikasilla pine grove and one of the forest glades, the Lane of Yearning. During the First Estonian Republic, there was even a plan to build a sanatorium in this place.


This is a birthplace of a poet Henrik Visnapuu (1890-1951), with a relevant memorial stone. In 1891, the Visnapuu family settled in Pikasilla.


The place has been mentioned in the 1223 chronicle, under the name of Põdrala (Padriale). Since 1593, there are records regarding a Morsel-Podrigel manor, which belonged to v. Stryks. The manor house, built in 1761, is one of the few baroque buildings from the 18th century existing in Estonia. The freely designed park (5,7 hectares), with numerous tree species has also been preserved, the oldest part of the park was founded together with the main building of the manor. Gerdruta v. Stryk had the Neo-Gothically designed family chapel built in the memory of her daughter Louise; this is where several generations of the lords of the manor, v. Stryks are resting. The chapel was reconditioned in cooperation with the Põdrala rural municipality government and the v. Stryk family, and on August 25, 2001, the Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jaan Kiivit inaugurated the Gerdruta chapel as a church.


The village has an interesting historical background. The oldest sign of human life is the sacrificial stone from the 2nd millennium B.C. The stone is labelled and lies immediately near the Tõrva-Riidaja road, approximately 1 kilometre towards Tõrva from the Lõve bus stop. The Lõve manor separated from Helme manor in 1718 and belonged to
v. Anreps for a long period.


Settlements in the area date from the older Iron Age. One of the largest stone-cist graves in Estonia, the 'Rilli stony place' lies half a kilometre away from the Kärstna manor. The former Kärstna manor, (Kerstenhof, also Jennesteküll), was established at the beginning of the 17th century, as the fief of the Swedish King Gustavus Adolfus. The manor house, probably built during the 18th century, burnt down in 1907, followed by a thorough reconstruction. Kärstna Basic School operates in the manor house and is surrounded by a beautiful park designed in neo-baroque style (11,3 hectares). The high Kärstna hill or Kabelimägi (Chapel Hill) deserves attention, with an absolute altitude of 136 metres, providing marvellous view to the neighbourhood. The preserved monument on the Kabelimägi, the so-called Anrep's lion, is regarded as one of the most beautiful pieces of classicist art in Estonia. The statue of the lion was erected by cavalry general, Carl Joseph v. Anrep, in the honour of his father, Heinrich Reinhold v. Anrep (1760-1807) who perished in the fight with Napoleon.


A large but shallow lake (area 4,87 km2, depth approximately 3,5 m), located on the Sakala uplands, 96 metres above sea level. Õhne river starts in the lake. It is possible to rest and bath at Veisjärv, it is relatively rich in various species of fish. Several stone-cist graves near Veisjärv are evidence of the existence of an ancient human settlement. A poet, Hendrik Adamson (1891-1946) was born in the neighbourhood, in Metsakuru.


The oldest ancient stronghold in Sakala was located in Vooru; it was also one the largest. This was an important place on the old trade route, running from Viljandi to Pskov, through Suislepa and Otepää. This hill with two higher ends, the so-called Kalevipoeg's bed type stronghold, was founded during the mid-Iron Age (6-7 centuries) and was in use until the 11th century. In the 19th century, the hill was damaged due to quarrying gravel. Relevant archaeological findings are exhibited in Viljandi Museum.


Õhne River flows through the village. The 'Suislepa' apple variety originates from the orchard of the Uue-Suislepa manor (1796). Since the autumn of 1920, children in Suislepa have gone to school in the old manor house. In Suislepa manor, there is a monument to the victims of the great hunger from 1695 to 1697. Suislepa denudation is 15 metres long and 2 metres high, light sandstone belongs to the burtniek seam. The three-storeyed Dutch-type windmill in Suislepa is an architectural monument.


Two huge erratic boulders are under protection: according to beliefs, Estonian epic hero Kalevipoeg cast one of them to here from Tartu, and the other one was thrown by the Devil. The circumference of the Kalevipoeg's stone is 15,8 metres. In Matsimärdi farm in Kivilõppe, there is Märt Müür's Farm Theatre, organising out-door performances both for children and adults. Simmi Mill is a cultural monument, where the brothers, actor-stage director, Ants Simm (1877-1946) and the conductor and composer, Juhan Simm (1885-1959) were born and bred. In Kivilõppe, there is the Võrtsjärve Fish Protection Station and two ports. The Kivilõppe port, under the administration of the National Environmental Inspectorate, can receive larger ships. The rural municipality owned Ivanov canal is used by amateur fishermen and yacht owners. Emus are bred in the nearby Mäeotsa farm.


During the 13th century, the first church was founded in Tarvastu, but the Lithuanians destroyed it in 1329. A three-aisled church, without a steeple, was built instead of the earlier one. However, it was destroyed during the Livonian war and damaged in the Great Northern War. Major reconstruction of the church took place in 1771. On May 6, 1892, the church caught fire after a lightning strike and was restored in Neo-Gothic style. The height of the steeple is 58 metres. The church is dedicated to the Apostle Peter. Tarvastu congregation has been serviced by men of letters, Friedrich David Lenz (1745-1809) and Karl Ernst v. Berg (1733-1833) also the legendary Harri Haamer (1906-1987) worked as the Minister for a long period.


This settlement for poor rural people emerged at the end of the 18th century, near the Mustla inn, on the lands of the manor and the rectory (church manor). Mustla held the status of a town between 1939-1979. Tarvastu rural municipality council building, shops, eating places, pharmacy, family physician, post office, culture house and a library currently exist in the settlement. Priit Kaljapulk is the architect of the secondary school building, completed in 1987. A statue in the memory of the Liberation War, so-called 'Vabaduse Jaan' ('Freedom John'), was opened on June 23, 1937. Created by the sculptor August Vomm and The statue was pulled down on June 18, 1941, and re-openend on June 24, 1990. At the edge of the village there is a cemetery with an old chapel and gates designed in gothic style. This is the resting place of Tarvastu's parish clerk-schoolmaster, Peeter Koroll, musicians Aino and Jaan Tamm's parents Tõnis and Mari, the doctor and poet Andres Alver, school teacher and man of culture Martin Vares, wrestler Martin Klein, minister Harri Haamer etc.


The place of the Estonians' ancient fortified stronghold. A medieval Order castle, surrounded by a moat, was built at the River Tarvastu, during the 14th century, and exploded in 1596. In the yard of the front stronghold, there is a light-coloured classicist chapel, founded in 1825, to be burial place of the v. Mensenkampff's family. The suspension bridge, which connected the hill of the front fort with the other bank, is now in the Viljandi Castle Hills.


The river has found its way through the drumlins and in several places, on the slopes of the valleys, Devonian sandstone bedrock is denuded. The best known sandstone denudation is that of Kullamägi, 7-8 metres high, on the right hand shore of the River, approximately 2 kilometres towards the southwest from Tarvastu. Spring waters have eroded caves in the brownish-red small-granuled sandstone.


The Tamme-Koori oak near the Viljandi-Tartu road is better known as Viiralt's oak (circumference 4,7 m, height 11 m). The tree is said to have grown from the escaping Swedish King's carriage pole. In the summer of 1944, the well-known graphic artist, Eduard Viiralt (1898-1954), stayed in Gori Tamm's farm and perpetuated the tree on his graphic sheet 'Viljandi's landscape'.


Notices regarding Vana-Võidu date from 1507. The manor house, in late-classicist style, was built in the 19th century. For a long time, the manor belonged to v. Stryks. Vana-Võidu agricultural school was founded in 1923 and it has been operating in the manor for years. In Vana-Võidu, there is also a 4,75-kilometers-long motor racetrack, which used to be extremely popular in earlier times; the opening competitions were held in 1964.


The church, which belonged to the Orthodox congregation, is situated approximately 16 kilometres southwards from the Viljandi-Tartu road, in the immediate vicinity of Kalmetu Basic School. Reconstruction of the church, launched at the end of the 1980s, has currently been halted due to financial reasons. The roof of the church has been renewed, but the windows are missing and internal works not completed.


Notices regarding Valma (Walmabe) village date from the year 1584. Valma is known as the discovery place of typical comb ceramic items. The so-called Saba (Tail) land ledge, reaching to the lake, has been identified as a Stone Age settlement (3rd millennium B.C.), where the oldest anthropological material regarding the inhabitants in the vicinity of Lake Võrtsjärv has been found in the tombs. Valma port is one of the most sizeable ones on the lake, deepened to a necessary extent, with attached buildings, and operating as a fishing port. There is a bathing beach near Valma, and a Raudsepa dendropark.


This rural church in Gothic style, dedicated to John the Baptist, is one of the southernmost of the large medieval limestone buildings in Central-Estonia. Probably, the church was founded at the beginning of the 14th century, as a simple preaching church, characteristic of Dominicans. Evidently, the one-aisled church was vaulted during the last quarter of the 14th century, under the direction of a master craftsman from Tallinn. After the Great Northern War, the church was left in ruins for a long period. During a more relevant reconstruction in 1875, the 45-metre high western steeple was also erected. Between 1890-1917, the man of culture and the great figure of the national awakening period, Villem Reiman (1861-1917), was the pastor of the Kolga-Jaani church and a monument was established in his honour in 1988. On August 16, 1925, a memorial monument was set up to the 17 who had perished during the Liberation War. The statue was destroyed on June 19, 1941 and restored by May 28, 1989.


A fishermen village with a similar name (Oyowaldt) was already mentioned in 1599. A windmill made of field collected stones was built around 1840. Oisu co-operative dairy society, founded in 1913, had a steam-powered dairy manufactory for producing butter. Currently, the former dairy building is not in use. The Tänassilma River flows into Lake Võrtsjärv within the village. There is also a little port here, which used to be the stopping place for ships and sailboats navigating on Võrtsjärv. The mouth of the River Tänassilma is also one of the favourite places for fishermen. Between Oiu and Leie is the Ulge recreational area. In 1987, Lake Võrtsjärv Games took place on the showground here. The owner of the recreational area, Kolga-Jaani rural municipality, has built places for sports contests and necessary outbuildings, and repaired the song festival grounds with benches. Tenting and sports grounds await those wishing a pleasant holiday.


Leie, with its 300 inhabitants, is the second largest centre in the Kolga-Jaani rural municipality. In 1995, the construction of the Leie Basic School for 216 children was completed. At the end of the village, near the road, there is sacrificial stone where ghosts and phantoms are said to have been seen. August Annist (1899-1972), Doctor of Philology, the researcher of epic poems Kalevipoeg and Kalevala, the translator of the Iliad, Odyssey and Kalevala in the Estonian language, was born in Viilu farm, Leie village.


The village (Waibla) was first mentioned in 1583. Vaibla, located on the northern shore of Lake Võrtsjärv, is a marvellous holiday resort with sandy beaches and warm water. Several owners of camps and summer cottages provide services for holidaymakers. Boats and water cycles can be rented on the spot. There is also a sauna and a cafe.


At the end of the 18th century, the largest industrial enterprise in Estonia, the Rõika-Meleski Glass and Mirror Manufacture was constructed on the lands of Võisiku manor. Glass made here was used for the production of mirrors and later, for bottles. Currently, the building is decaying. A couple of kilometres to the north of the village, on the former islands of Lake Võrtsjärv, Stone Age settlements and Bronze Age burial places have been found.


This is the starting point of the River Suur Emajõgi, being the border between Viljandi and Tartu counties. Since ancient times, the Tartu - Viljandi road and Võrtsjärv -River Emajõgi- Lake Peipus waterways have crossed in Jõesuu. Once, there was an inn here, which belonged to the Võisiku manor; currently, only the earth stone foundation is left of the building. The port of Jõesuu connects Lake Võrtsjärv with the Emajõgi Riverland's waterways; the elaboration of visitor centre as well as bathing and camping sites havé also been designed for Jõesuu recreational area.