|Jõgevamaa County at Lake Peipsi|
Jõgevamaa stretches from the center of mainland Estonia to the Lake Peipsi, which from Tiirikoja to Kodavere is the eastern border of the county. The landscape and nature of the county are diversified: On the plains of Central Estonia you can find forests, swamps and ancient greenwoods. Vooremaa with its numerous, beautiful lakes is the pearl of the county – it’s one of the most unique surface forms in Europe, which was formed during the last ice age. Vooremaa’s (‘land of drumlins’) drumlins are also supposed to be Kalevipoeg’s ploughing furrows. Many places in Jõgeva country are related directly to the epic figure of Kalevipoeg – if you wish to know more about it, you should visit the Kalevipoja Museum with 12 theme rooms, the Kratiküla and the adventure park.
The coastal areas of Lake Peipsi in Jõgevamaa are more even and sandy. The lowland around Mustvee and Omedu is a widely swamped flatland. In this area there’s only one town – Mustvee, which is located at the northwestern Peipsi-shore on two sides of the river Mustvee flowing into Peipsi. Mustvee has already been mentioned in the times of the German Order – in 1493. According to the legend the city got its name from the river, which – flowing through peat and turf – brought so dark waters with it, that the place got the nickname Must (‘black’). A reddish-colored iron stone with Lower German texts was found in Mustvee in 1910, which can be seen in the park of Mustvee culture center. The stone was supposed to mark the border between the Brethren of Sword and the Bishop of Tartu, after the mainland Estonia was overthrown by German crusaders.
The fact that Mustvee was incorporated to Russia after the Nordic War turned it into an area with an overwhelming Russian population – and, Mustvee also got to be located at a very strategic route: At the road which connected St. Petersburg with Western Europe. This also resulted in people of different religions and languages settling in Mustvee and around it. A major influence to Mustvee, as to other areas at Lake Peipsi, was the immigration of Russian Old Believers in 17thcentury.
As Mustvee was a city of various confessions, there’s a variety of churches here:
EELK Lutheran Church. Built in 1880 in neo-gothic style by the architect J. Maas. Inside you’ll find a beautiful neo-baroque altar cabinet and the altar painting.
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. Built in 1864 by the architect A. Edelson, to honor the wonder-worker Saint Nicholas. The church is decorated by ornamental ceiling- and wall paintings and numerous icons.
Holy Church of Trinity. Built in 1877 with a tower bell brought from St. Petersburg weighing 272 kg. This church takes a special place in the religious landscape in Estonia, as it is an independent orthodox congregation, canonically administered neither by the Constantinople Patriarchate nor the Moscow Patriarchate.
The first chapels of the Old Believers were built from wood, already in 1802. Originally, these chapels could not have a tower. Only the current church of Old Believers – completed between 1927 and 1930 (project by J. Jansen), has wonderful tower helmets. The icons in the church date back to the 19th century and among all the gems you’ll find masterpieces of such famous icon painters like G. Frolov, P. Sofronov and M. Solntsev.
The Chapel of the Bethany Congregation was originally built in 1935. The current church was completed in 2008.
In Mustvee you can also visit the Mustvee Old Believers Museum. Its exposition gives a good overview of life and traditions of old believers yesterday and today – and also offers a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with their history and culture. You can also get materials and information about the history of Mustvee and Lake Peipsi.
Torma, a known place of Estonian culture, is located approximately 15km from Mustvee. Many cultural names have been active in Torma – C. R. Jakobson (his monument is one of the local sights), J. Weizenberg – a known poet, J. G. Eisen von Schwarzenberg – an Estonian enlightener, and Josep Kapp, the predecessor of the famous composers’ dynasty. Architecturally make note of St. Mary’s church built in the 18thcentury.
Moving along the coastline of Peipsi, you find yourself on an interesting 7km long linear village. One after the other you’ll pass through Raja, Kükita, Tiheda, Kasepää, Omedu, Säärisa, Ranna, Kodavere and Tedreküla villages. Visit the old believer’s chapel built in 1890, which is famous for the fact that Gavrila Frolov established his school of icon painters here, the most famous students being Pimen Sofronov and Mark Solntsev.
Omedu village is located 8km from Mustvee, firstly mentioned in 1590. The village it located at the beautiful Omedu river, the upper water course carries the name of Kullavere. At the mouth of the river there’s a small port.
St. Michael’s church in Kodavere, completed in 1777 as neo-classical building, is notable due to its altar paintings from 18th/19thcentury and for its organ. The parish of Kodevere has also been home to some notable Estonian men of culture, like Jakob Liiv, Juhan Liiv, Kaarel Krimm etc.
There are several hostels and guesthouses for travelers to stop and rest in. Most popular ones are Aarde Villa guesthouse, with the house dating back to 1711 as a post station. Since mid-19thcentury, from the beginning of the Era Mannteufel (Earl of Saare) until 1906 – the building housed a tavern. From that time on it was used as private accommodation for a local policeman. In 1922 rooms were rebuilt to house the local border cordon, which is also the reason that locals call the house the Cordon of Sääritsa.
Other popular places to stay at are Voore Guesthouse, Iron Hostel, Hansu Tourist Farm and Hostel Jussi Maja.
Jõgevamaa at Lake Peipsi has numerous beautiful hiking trails and places to swim and rest. If you want to move land inwards, you can visit the Elistvere Animal Park or castle ruins in Laiuse, – or the Parish Museum of Oskar Luts in Palamuse. Or perhaps the biggest family fun park in Esonia, the “Vudila”?