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

Pilgrim’s route


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At the Mustajõe Tavern we cross the Orajõe River and after the bridge we step off the Postal Road, turn left and walk towards Tilsi. It is 2.5 km away.

The TILSI Village was first mentioned in written sources in 1638.
Even before reaching the Village, the Lookout Tower can be seen on the left. The 24 m high wooden Kõrbjärve Lookout Tower is unfortunately depreciated and climbing on it is life-threatening! Tilsi Singing Stage and Kõrbjärv Lake are also there. Tilsi has two lakes: Kõrbjärv Lake and Pikkjärv Lake.


However, the Road takes us directly to the Manor’s gate.
The Tilsi Mansion was separated from the Väimela Mansion in 1749. After frequent changes of ownership, the Mansion belonged to the von Roths Family from 1833 until the nationalization of the Mansions in 1919.
The older parts of the main building were completed in the second half of the 18th Century, but during the following Century a number of alterations and additions were made and these finalized on the second half of the 19th Century.

The Tilsi Homeless Children’s Shelter.

In 1921–1977, the Orphanage was located in the Manor House.
For many decades the Tilsi Primary School of Orphanage, which grew out of the Village School, founded in 1776, also operated in the heart of the Manor and was later transformed into a Basic School. In 1978 the School and the Orphanage received a new house. The Manor’s Main Building remained empty.

The Manor was surrounded by a large and relatively species-rich Park Area. Behind the Manor House on the Pikkjärv Lake shore, was once a park garden with terraces and later a representative beauty garden, overlooking the Lake and the forest park on the other side of the Lake. As was fashionable in the 19th Century, into the upper terrace was built a Grotto.
Behind the Main Building, in a neglected park, there is a granite Memorial Stone and the Figure of the „Mourning Mother” (Sculptor Endel Taniloo, 1980), with Estonian and Russian dedications „To Honor of the Heroes”. The both monuments have a number of Russian names – here is the Mass Grave of Soviet Army Fighters, who fell in World War II.


While the Manor Main Building looks now quite tired, but a new breath has been blown into the buildings on both sides of the Main Building. In the former Mansion’s Workers House, where before was a School, has been many years going on the construction and renovation work – there comes the Tilsi Culture Hut. Next to it, is an Open Wooden Shed from field stones, which relies on red brick pillars. Let’s hope, that the renovation works will soon reach to the Manor’s Main Building.


On the other side of the Main Building, in the former Teacher-Educator’s House, which was nicely renovated a few years ago, is a Nursing Home. In fact, today we are no longer talking about Nursing Homes, but about Boarding Houses. So, here is a decent and homely little Boarding House for the elderly. Behind it is a new Orphanage Building.

Did you know that a large part of the interior and exterior shots of the Estonian film „Smile Yet” („Naerata ometi”), made in 1985, was filmed in and around the Main Building of the old Tilsi Manor? The film was directed by Leida Laius and Arvo Iho, the script was based on the popular youth story „Stepmother” („Kasuema”) by the Estonian writer Silvia Rannamaa, which first edition was published in 1963.

Until 2017, Tilsi was the Center of Laheda Municipality. There is now an Orphanage, a Basic School, a Kindergarten, a Boarding House and a Rural Municipality Office. A Shop stays to the left of Manor’s gate. The Tilsi Store is open every day..




We continue from Tilsi on the opposite direction with the Shop – out of the Manor’s gate and to the right. We pass the Grain Dryer, after the traffic sign marking the crossroads, we turn right at the Vardja sign. At the next crossroads, we head towards the Lake (to our right) and continue along the main road. The Road here runs quite along the Pikkjärv Lake shore.

Possibility to stay in Põdra maja – the Moose House
At the Vardja sign, the arrow points the way to the Põdra Maja (the Moose House), where accommodation is offered. We have also spent the night there, admired the Cranes on the early morning lake and experienced the hospitality of a Latvian hostess. However, it must still be remembered that it is wise to book the accommodation early.
Põdra maja/the Moose House contact: Põlva Parish, Tilsi Village, Phones: (+372) 5102321 and (+372) 7929476; email: podramajad@gmail.com

If there is nothing to do in the Moose House, then keep going towards Vana-Koiola. It is about 2.5 km from the Moose House Road.

By Daila Aas, in September 2019