Suur Munamägi observation tower
Haanja Upland – it’s the beautiful rolling landscape, spectacular views of forests, lakes and valleys as well as the cleansing bath in the smoke sauna at the end of a ski trip in winter or a long summer day, enjoying the local food and hospitality of your kind hosts.
This is the location of the highest peak in Estonia and the Baltics – Suur Munamägi hill 317.4 metres above sea level and around 60 metres above its foot. The imposing observation tower was constructed on the hill in 1939 and was reconstructed and modernised in 1969 and 2005.
Haanja Upland is on average 200 metres above sea level, providing home for 20 of the highest peaks in Estonia. The most mysterious of them is Vällamägi with two peaks and steep slopes at a height of 301 metres above sea level and altogether 84 metres above its foot. There are 170 beautiful lakes in Haanja Upland with deep clear waters and articulated shores. Among them is Tuuljärv, the lake at the highest altitude in Estonia.
On the initiative of local associations, a community centre was established in Haanja in 1937 – an eye-catching home for tourists boasting an interesting exterior décor and an observation tower that was one of the first sites in Estonia to be purposefully established for promoting domestic tourism. About 10 kilometres from Haanja, the castle-like Rogosi Manor in Ruusmäe (1597) is another fine example of local manor architecture and Baltic German culture. The beautiful church architecture can be admired in Plaani Orthodox Church, which was consecrated in 1874 (7 km from Haanja).
Once upon a time, God and the Devil happened to talk about their concern: people don’t care about us anymore. The Devil promised to take action, went down to the underworld, rattled and rumbled for a while, and behold, a hill appeared. And so it happened that every time a man from Haanja needed to go uphill, he moaned, “How the hell will I get there?” And once he was up there panting, he said, “Thank God, I made it!”