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

Pilgrim’s route


Walking 0.5 km from the Road Museum, we reach Tilleorg. But before that, on the right side of the road, on the valley bank, there is an ancient Town Hill – Kantsimägi or Matsikants or Maakants. The Castle is located in the ancient valley of the Ahja River at a height of 20–23 m on the west bank, on the southern side of the old Tartu–Võru Road. In the Castle have been made several archeological excavations. According to the found ceramics, the Fortress was built in the second half of the first Millennium, but was also used at the beginning of the second Millennium. Wooden steps lead up to the Town Hill Courtyard’s area, deep below is Tilleorg in its his full beauty.


The Tilleorg Landscape Protection Area, which was established in 1957, includes a 4 kilometers long section in the Ahja River ancient valley, between the Tille Mill and the Möksi Mill.
As the Ahja River has a fast flow in the valley and a rather large fall, it was a favorable place to build mills in here. There are written reports of the Tille Mill, which belonged to Hurmi Mansion since1624, but it is believed that the Mill already existed in the 16th Century. In 1908, the Tille Mill was bought by Latvian origin Johann Semel, who built a new large Mill Building with a Living House. With two pairs of stones, were grinded simple and sieved flour, groats and buckwheat groats. The Mill produced electricity for its own use and for its closer neighbors. In 1940, the Mill went to subordination of the Hurmi Machine Cooperative, the Mill operated until 1970. Today, the Mill has been decomposed and looted.

Tilleorg Mill.

Tilleorg Bridge and Tavern in 1910.

Tilleorg in 1925, on the right the ruins of the Tille’s Tavern. Photo: Konstantin Kalamees. ERM Fk 461214.

In Tilleorg has been the Tille Road Tavern, which originally belonged to Põlgaste Mansion, later to Hurmi Mansion already in 1695, and it operated in the same place until the beginning of the 20th Century. The Tavern continued to operate even after the establishment of the State Alcohol Monopoly in 1900.
In January 1919, in the Battle of Tilleorg, During the War of Independence, the Tille Tavern become severely damaged. The Tavern ruins were demolished in the early 1920s.

(From our special war correspondent)
On the morning of January 29 in 1919, at 5 a.m.
(during the War of Independence), we received an order to move forward, and on the same day we had to move about 30 verst closer to the Võru City. At 10 a.m. the drivers were in place and the journey to Võru began. There was no clash with the Russians that day, and we moved on for 20 verst. By the road what we walked, we could see how the Russian Bolsheviks had done their wicked devastation work. The inhabitants had fled from many places, leaving everything to the fate. The Russians had sniffed out everything and took whatever they liked. The next day there were serious clashes with the Russians. The battle near Tilleorg acquired a particularly fierce character. If you know Tilleorg, you can imagine the difficulties there. A long valley, with high steep banks, deep ravines, just like some famous castle. There our troops fought like heroes with an enemy, who were much stronger than us. Our troops also fought so heroically, because a quarter of an hour before the battle, the Russian Bolsheviks sent out from Võru a group with 50 women and children. They said that the Russians had used horrible violence against the people in Võru. It happened, at the small military team, about 40 fighters, rushed with hurrah against the 150 enemies, using the rifle bayonets and forced them to flee in a hurry. The Estonians fought very bravely until late in the evening and the battle ended with their complete victory. The Russians withdrew, leaving behind various military equipment. During the battle, the Russians set fire the Tillemäe Manor House („General Manor”), where, according to the locals, there was a depot of items, robbed from the surroundings by the Bolsheviks. The next day, the enemy resisted on the Mustjõgi River. We soon broke that resistance and moved on. There was no more resistance elsewhere, the enemy fled. The Battle of Tilleorg had frightened him. So, the Battle of Tilleorg decided the fate of Võru...
Maaliit: Eesti Maarahva Liidu häälekandja, nr. 37, 15. veebruar 1919.

In 1913, a stone bridge over the Ahja River was built in Tilleorg. In 1934 it was replaced by a reinforced concrete bridge; the shore columns of the bridge were made of iron stones. The bridge was damaged in the Second World War, but in 1962 the Tille Bridge was restored.


If the Pilgrimage Route has already brought us to such a naturally beautiful place, then it would be a sin to hurry on, without getting to know the natural landscape here. The walk on the Tilleorg Hiking Trail, which was built in 1957, takes about an hour and a half. The length of the trail is 5 km.

The TILLEORG HIKING TRAIL starts at the old road bridge, runs along the Ahja River bank to the source of Merioone, from there it leads up from the valley and further along the bank of the Hurm Stream. You can find out more about the diverse nature and species-rich flora of the protected area from the information boards placed on the trail. The forest around the Hiking Trail is exciting and very varied.






A special attraction is the Merioone Spring. The clear Merioone Spring, which flows under the magnificent sandstone wall exposed by the Varbuse Stream, is the best piece of the Hiking Trail. The flat ripple of the water, the play of the half-tones of the sandstone outcrop in the spring mirror and the alert silence of the forest create a mysterious feeling.


Folklore associates the name Merioone with the sea. There have been several legends about this. One story tells of an unjustly accused manor guard who escaped from the torturers, reached a spring and asked there to swallow him into the sea. A hole appeared in the rock, from there, in the next morning was found a man’s body. It was thought that the road to the sea started from those cliffs.
We refresh the face with spring water and climb up from the steep bank. There is a seven-branched Erastvere Cross Pine by the Hiking Trail. In the old days, a road passed from here, which was taken to the Cemetery. A cross was cut into the tree, to prevent at the deceased can’t return to home.

The trail leads back to the road along the edge of the Hurmi Stream. We come down the hill and reach to the road end between the two maples. We walked counterclockwise on the Hiking Trail, but you can also go clockwise and start here, it’s just as beautiful.

By Daila Aas, in August, 2019