Divided and reunited
The town, situated in the heart of Old Livonia, was first mentioned in 1286 by its German name ‘Walk’ and was inhabited by Latvians, Estonians, Germans and Russians throughout history. After World War I, however, both Estonia and Latvia laid claims to the town. The solution was to draw a new border through it in 1920. During the Soviet occupation of both countries beginning in 1940, the border became virtually non-existent again, until independence in 1991, when it was reestablished. Border checks continued until 2007, when both countries joined the Schengen Agreement and made life at the border simpler. It’s still a good idea, however, to carry your passport when crossing back in forth, as it’s technically required for many travellers.