Otepää

Otepää is situated in the southern part of Estonia in Valga County and is home to beautiful miniature mountains and valleys. It is 220 km from Tallinn and 42 km from Tartu. The countryside around Otepää with its seemingly endless forestsand rolling hills invites visitors to cast off the worries of everyday life and delight in the unspoiled nature. Here is very rich tourism infrastructure with legendary hiking tracks and highly developed tourist centres. Depending of the season, the hiking tracks in Otepää Nature Park can be covered either on foot, by bike or by skiing. 

  


The hills here have the thickest and longest lasting snow in the country, thus Otepää has become a noteworthy winter sports centre. Tehvandi Olympic Centre is an internationally acknowledged ski resort and host to World Cup competitions. In winter there are skiing tracks in Kääriku cover an area of more than 50 kilometres. The most famous alpine slopes are opened in Kuutsemägi and Väike Munamägi in wintertime. 

Historical mention of Otepää dates back to the year 1116, when Otepää was mentioned in Novgorod`s Chronicle by the name "Bear`s Head". Even now it is likely to come across bears here. The shape of Linnamägi Hill - a bear`s head has remained the emblem of the Municipality up to the present time. 


Places of interest:

The ancient earthen stronghold is located in Otepää Linnamägi (town hill). The exact time of origin is not known but a thousand years ago it was known as the most important stronghold of ancient Ugala. The ruins of the first brick-made fortress in Estonia are still on the top of Linnamägi. Nearby is the Virgin Mary`s Lutheran Church of Otepää. 

Otepää is deeply connected with the Estonian state flag. Here, in the hall of Otepää pastor`s mansion, the Estonian blue-black-and-white flag was consecrated on May 23rd 1884. at this time it belonged to Estonian Students Society, but thirty years later, on June 27th, the flag was adopted as the flag of the Estonian Republic. Nowadays there are Estonian Flag`s Museum and Ski Museum in the Otepää pastor`s mansion. The Ski Museum obtained an International Ski Federation (FIS) label in April 2003. 

Pühajärv, the most beautiful lake in Estonia, has been a cinstant source of inspiration for artists and poets. Five small islets add special charm to theis beautiful lake, and it is adjoined by Pühajärv Park featuring walking paths and a merry-go-round. A monument (known as the energy column) marks the presence of positive energy fields in Otepää. 

From the sightseeing tower at Harimägi (211 m over the sea level), which is the second highest hill at Otepää upland, there is a picturesque view of the surrounding landscape.