The Taevaskoda Nature Trail near Põlva

Merje Aus | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Near** the city of Põlva, in Southern-Estonia, is one of the most famous landmarks of the country. Located on the banks of the ancient valley of the Ahja River, the Taevaskoda Nature Trail has sandstone cliffs, caves, and springs which are nature’s work of art.

Large and *one-of-a-kind *sandstone walls have formed for centuries by the waters of the Ahja River.  They have been named "Taevaskoda" by the locals – *Taevaskodameans “Heaven’s Hall” in rough translation. This unique place attracts nature lovers and hikers who admire its scenery. While Hiiumaa is the purest island, Taevaskoda has the purest and most untouched nature in the mainland.

© iStock/lNordicMoonlight

Mysterious caves, full of legends

The Taevaskoda sandstone walls have seen a lot throughout the centuries. In ancient times, people used to gather to this mysterious place to make sacrifices to the gods; for better crops, health, or happiness. This historical place has a lot of folk tales and different beliefs connected to it. Most legends speak of the demons in the Taevaskoda caves, secret passageways, and mermaids in the waters, but when you think about it, it is pretty obvious where the stories generated. The mermaid stories come probably from the fact that many people were sacrificed and drowned in the river. Also, people used to hide in the caves during the wars, and it was probably not unusual to see someone crawling and hiding in the dark caves. No wonder people used to think there were demons! The legend of the healing qualities of this place is still believed. It is said that the Emaläte Spring heals your eyes if you wash them with the cold and fresh spring water. It doesn’t hurt to try – maybe you won’t need your glasses after that.

Explore the nature trail through water sports

If you like sports and are not afraid to get wet, the best way to discover Taevaskoda is by canoeing or kayaking. Just find one of the many tour groups and book a trip you like. The shortest trip lasts about 2 hours and is suitable for beginners. But they also offer longer trips, lasting up to 2 days that consists of canoeing and camping by the river. It is an unforgettable experience to see the untouched nature of Southern-Estonia.

Take a hike along the Ahja River

Another much easier and quicker way to see the sandstone caves is by hiking on a unique 1 km *long *hiking trail that is also accessible by wheelchairs. Just park your car and start on the hiking trail that runs along the banks of the Ahja River. It will take you to the caves and the Emaläte Spring (don’t forget to wash your eyes!).  

© iStock/leskas

The Taevaskoda sandstone cliffs are one of the most well-known landmarks of the country and the best example of Estonian nature. The long and clean Ahja River, the springscliffs, and caves are the highlights of the Taevaskoda Nature Trail, near the city of Põlva.

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