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TAEVASKODA

Location: N58° 6` 26.74", E27° 2` 58.85"

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The two Taevaskoda outcrops on the banks of the ancient valley of the Ahja River, are one of the most popular sightseeing objects in southern Estonia. The sandstone outcrops and ancient river form the most beautiful part of the Ahja River Landscape Reserve.  

Big Taevaskoda is the highest and the best-known sandstone outcrop on the banks of Ahja River. The curved walls of the outcrop are 150 metres long and 24 metres high with the effect of amplifying the loudness of rapids flowing, birds singing and people talking. The caves of Big Taevaskoda were mentioned centuries ago. There had been a crack in the rock of Big Taevaskoja, where a person could hardly get through. The tunnel led to a bigger cave and then to three more caves. According to a legend, the caves had been built by an Old Nick (a demon). He liked the place and wanted to live there but secretly under ground. He started to dig caves into the riverbank, the deeper he got the bigger and more beautiful his rooms became. He liked the place so much, that named it Heaven's Hall where nobody came to disturb him.     

Legends also speak of a mermaid with a golden comb and dreadful snake living in the river. It is also believed to be a holy river where people sacrificed for better crop, larger cattle and happier life. People were afraid of caves and didn't let their children to go there. There were three secret underground tunnels: one led to Himmaste village, the other to Riga, and the third one to Kiev. 

Nobody was allowed to damage the walls or scratch names into them, as well as not to catch fish or crayfish on Midsummer Eve, because this would have made the spirits of the river angry and brought bad luck. 

Upstream of Big Taevaskoda there is a boulder near rapids called the Witch's Stone or the Spy Stone. Legends speak about a spy who hid himself behind the rock and listened to the meeting of elders. He was bewitched into stone.                                                    

It is interesting to know that Big and Small Taevaskoda have also been used in the making of the Estonian cult film 'Viimne Reliikvia' (The Last Relic). (1969)