A Spiritual and Cultural-Historical Journey
from Pirita to Vana-Vastseliina

Pilgrim’s route

Vandjala Village

St. Petersburg Road and Kostivere settlement within the Rebala Heritage Reserve.
Vandjala is a linear village along a long shady road, lined by moss-covered dry-stone walls of granite or limestone. These stone walls also divide the courtyards and  gardens of farmsteads into separate spaces; most of the  buildings are of limestone. It seems as if the village has looked exactly the same for the past 100, 200 or more years.


Vandjala Village was first mentioned in the Danish Census book of 1241, being included in the Long List of Estonian properties, which was compiled by the Danish monks on the basis of the data collected during the baptism of Estonian villages in 1219–1220.
In 1714 Vandjala Village became the property of Catherine the Great. In 1725 the local pastor H. C. Wrede made an entry in the church book that the village had been empty since the plague epidemic in 1711, but then some Russian peasants had moved in and built houses for themselves. The reason why the Russian peasants had been brought from Russia and settled in Vandjala was, according to survey documents, that some peasants were employed in Kadriorg. The former villagers had died of the plague or, which is more likely,  settled in other villages.
In 1766/1767 Vandjala (Wainjalla) was again recorded in the church book of  Jõelähtme Church, the names of farms and people seem to be mostly Estonian. In 1838–1854 there were 12 farmsteads and 120 inhabitants in Vandjala Village.
In 1868 an elementary school and a prayer house were opened at Kostivere by the Aruküla Russian Orthodox Church; this fell into the period of the Russification of Estonia during the reign of Alexander III.

There are many legends and folk tales about the re-settlement of Vandjala Village after the Great Northern War and the plague epidemic, which left the village empty.
According to one version Peter the Great had brought labourers from Russia to build Kadriorg Palace. The construction work started in 1719 and was completed in 1740.
Allegedly, the construction workers had settled in Maardu and Vandjala villages.
Another tale recounts that on marrying Peter the Great received as part of his dowry the serfs, most likely they were the workers who built Kadriorg Palace.
According to a third version the Lord of Kostivere Manor had exchanged his hounds for some Ukrainian peasants, who had then settled on the farms of Vandjala (this is a legend passed on among the local people).
By the late 18th century Estonian and Russian families had merged, and the immigrants had become ‘real’ Estonians who participated in the  activities for the advancement of the country: in the War of Independence, in the internal security service, and in the Home Guard. For example, the  Kuzma Farm was built with the money received for the arrest of Viktor Kingissepp.
During the Estonianisation programme the majority of villagers of Russian origin took new surnames, today there are no Russian-speaking people in the village.

At about two hundred metres from the end of the village road there is a high southern slope of the open-pit phosphate mine of Maardu, which offers a view of the mine, Maardu Village and the surrounding fields.
The pastures at the end of the village are called Katkootsa. There, between Vandjala and Maardu villages, the plague that ravaged the country after the Great Northern War had stopped. Later a wayside inn named  Katku was built, but today it has been flooded by the mine.

Vandjala Village has managed to retain its archaic look. The picturesque village with its stone-walled meandering road under the old trees resembles an open-air museum. The limestone farmhouses, mostly built in the 1850s, are well-preserved
The elementary school and prayer house of the Russian Orthodox Church at Aruküla survives. It is in private hands and lies to the left of the road, directly behind the village notice board.
Hallikivi. This is a big boulder in the middle of the village green. It used to be the meeting place for lovers. The local people say that in Vandjala Village children who are born emerge from underneath or behind the big boulder!

Tiia Välk ja Hans Kaldoja


„Jõelähtme kihelkonna, Kostiferi mõisa Wandjala ja Loo külade ajaloost ja vaatamisväärsustest.” Koostaja Tiia Välk. Säästvat arengut toetav Jõelähtme MTÜ ja Seltsing Vandjala muinasküla, 2009.