Cosy farmhouse b&b’s, good and simple traditional food, wild surroundings and beautiful nature – no wonder it has become one of the favourite spots for nature lovers.

The first historic record of Põlvamaa dates back to 13th century, when the bishop of Bernhard monks order established Maarja (Maria) Church. According to legend, the church was named after a kneeling girl called Maarja, who was walled alive into the church. No evidence has been found to back up the story, but visitors to the Maarja church often claim to have felt a certain serene presence there. But, of course, there is nothing quite like the first-hand experience, so visit the church and perhaps you’ll get a chance to meet her, too!

Over many years, Põlvamaa was the birth place for a number of Estonian philologists and authors:

  • Reverend Gustav Adolf Oldekop established the first newspaper published in the Estonian language, “Tarto maa rahva Näddali Leht” (the Weekly Paper of Tartu countryside people).
  • Johann Georg Schwartz was the first to publish school books in the Estonian language
  • Johannes Käis is known as the man behind many educational reforms and was t he founder of the Võru Teachers’ Seminar
  • Jakob Hurt, a notable Estonian folklorist, theologian and linguist, collected and published Estonian national folk poetry.

Enjoy active and nature holidays in Põlva

Though it is small in size, Põlva town has always taken a pride in the active, sport loving nature of its citizens. You can go bowling in Edu centre bowling alley, enjoy the swimming pool in the Sports Centre, watch and participate in different athletics in Mesikäpa Hall or enjoy your morning run around the Intsikurmu Südamerada (Heart Track).

During summer, go for a swim in Põlva lake: there are plenty of playgrounds around the lake, rollerblading and skating places and beautiful walking tracks make it an ideal way to spend a day with the family. And when night falls, enjoy the romantic side of Põlva – there are over 150 different coloured lanterns on the lake’s island, casting their flickering light across the calm water.

Nature and hiking around Põlva.

Located in the Southern Estonian hilly landscape, nature around Põlva is versatile and beautiful. Use Põlva town as your basecamp and go hiking, camping or cycling in the county’s primeval untouched nature. There are several bogs, forests, lakes and rivers in the area.

Among local natural wonders, Taevaskoda is probably one of the most visited sights. The primeval valley of the Ahja River provides beautiful sceneries with its sandstone outcrops, called Suur Taevaskoda (Grand Heaven’s Hall) and Väike Taevaskoda (Small Heaven’s Hall). Piusa sandstone caves and the sandy dunes of Setomaa area allow you to see sand in a whole new way. Local wooded meadows and river banks are being ruled by the bird kingdom – listen to their beautiful, ever-changing choirs. Meteor craters, beautiful Rebasemäe blue steams, nature and landscape protection areas, colourful bogs and swamplands: there is something very beautiful about Põlvamaa’s throughout every season.

Culture and sculptures in Põlva

Perhaps it is due the number of great linguists and folklorists in Põlva, but the first song celebrations were held here in 1855 and 1857. The Intsikurmu forest park’s singing stage fits up to 3500 singers these days and there is plenty of room for singing, dancing and partying on the grass. Quite often, different folk festivals and events are organised here, though the singing ground you see today has been renovated several times since the very first Estonian song festivals.

Põlva town is filled with monuments and memorabilia. I.e There is a Jakob Hurt park and monument in the town centre and also a sculpture “Mother with a wounded son” in memory of those fallen during World War II in the Jakob Hurt park; a monument for those fallen during the World War I and Liberty war by the Maarja Church and beautifully carved wooden sculptures created by the authors Ilme and Riho Kulla right in front of the Põlva Cultural centre.