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

Pilgrim’s route


It is not known when Simisalu was inhabited, but in 1784 there were 14 people there. Simisalu is an area with a history. It is now mostly known as the setting for an Estonian literary classic „Truth and Justice” written by Anton Hansen Tammsaare.

In 1871 Jüri and Hans Grosthal bought Simisalu for 6,200 rubles. Hans was the prototype for one of the characters in Truth and Justice. Jüri’s son Jüri married Tammsaare’s sister Marie Hansen. In 1911 the farm was bought by Hans Wielemann (Viljamaa in the Estonianised version). His son Gustav together with his wife Rosalie were killed by the members of a Soviet Communist Destruction Battalion on 24 July 1941. Their house was burnt down.
There are two versions of what happened on that day. According to one the Russian sailors saw from the top of the tower of Järva-Madise Church that people who had found hiding in the forests fetched food from Simisalu Farm. Another version is that: the people of the Simisalu farm were somehow involved in the battles of Kautla against Soviet occupants’ troops. The owners of the farm were buried in their garden, and later, in 1943, reinterred at the Järva-Madise cemetery at the initiative of August Hansen, A. H. Tammsaare’s brother.

In connection with the establishment of the Simisalu Hiking House (now RMK Simisalu Nature Center) in 1977, Rein Arjukese and his family came to live in Simisalu. Along with him, this place became as home to dissenters of the seventies and eighties, and this Group’s Midsummer Lights were usually lit on the Simisalu field. Of course, with those was accompanied by the KGB’s continued interest in the House and their folks. In the 1980s, a number of searches took place in Rein Arjukese home.
Rein Arjukese was a devoted naturalist, and over the decades he lived in Simisalu to do a great deal of work on preserving the landscapes of Southern Kõrvemaa. Tiina Paltser, Head of Simisalu Nature Center, writes: „During his 77 years as a respected naturalist, he has, among other things, built a protected area in the bogs around Seli Lake, set up hiking trails, built a Simisalu Nature Center, been a dedicated nature photographer, inspired and educated many generations. He was also a role model, how to be smart and active to the end of his days.”

On July 12th, 2019, the day before Rein Arjukese first leaving anniversary, Reinu’s memorial bench was opened in Simisalu yard.
Reinu’s sister and daughter Mari, relatives, friends and neighbors were present. RMK’s colleagues set up the commemorative bench to express their respect and thanks to the man who, according to Tiina Paltser, represented the Forest and the Forest People and was the pillar of Simisalu Center. The gorgeous bench was made by Joosep Perandi.
Rein Arjukese was a member of the first Parliament, of the newly independent Republic of Estonia. For his life’s work, Rein was honored with the Medal of the White Star in 2001, and in 2013, after the writer A. H. Tammsaare and Estonian Olympic Bronze Jaak Mae, he was named as third Honorary Citizen of Albu Municipality.

In Simisalu is an RMK Simisalu Nature House, with a seminar room and 49 beds and an 18 m high Observation Tower, which offers an unforgettable view of the surroundings and the Järva-Madise Church tower.


Overnight stay at the Simisalu Nature House barn.
A pilgrim’s sleeping room with a fireplace for 10 people (without bedding), 40 euros for 1 night.
Contact: Simisalu Nature Center, phone: +372 604 7212; +372 517 5494
e-mail: puhkus@rmk.ee   Online booking and information: www.nordicrent.ee

Lagle Parek and Daila Aas, in October 2019