Rõuge Primeval Valley

Estonia’s deepest lake and most beautiful valley

This yellow window is on the shore of the deepest lake in Estonia – Rõuge Suurjärv (Great Lake). It is located deep in the Rõuge primeval valley and is part of the chain of lakes in Rõuge; the depth of the lake reaches 38 metres to the southeast of the lake’s centre. The colour (ranging from orange to light green) and transparency of the water vary greatly. The flora includes 22 species, and plants can be found as deep as eight metres. A rare species of moss – Fissidens Julianus – has been found in the lake. Other species include Broad-leaved Pondweed, Water lily and Yellow Pond-lily.

According to folk myth, Rõuge Suurjärv came through a hill from the border of Viitina, the present site of the Great Fen. Even now, one can see a deep valley in the hill. It is said that during the war, the beautiful old church with its silver bells sank into Suurjärv. Ever since, a beautiful bridge rises over the lake before Michaelmas. A figure of a monk walks over the bridge, calling “Time will come, time will come, when this church with its bells rises up again!

The best-known part of the Rõuge primeval valley complex is the Ööbikuorg (Nightingale Valley). It borders the ancient castle hill from the north and measures 300 metres in length and 12-15 metres in depth. In spring, especially around when European bird cherries bloom, the valley is filled with singing nightingales – hence the name of the valley.

Ööbikuorg also boasts a water-powered hydraulic ram pump, the “Vesioinas”, which was constructed and built by Friedrich Johanson to supply his farmhouse with water. The pump has been working since 1939 and pumps five cubic metres of water into the 30-metre-high water cistern every 24-hour period.