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Caves
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The Caves of Koorküla

The Caves of Koorküla are situated in the opposite direction of Koorküla park on the slope of left side additional valley of Õhne primitive valley. They cover an area about a quarter of hectare wide. The caves have eroded into the layer of sandstone. The irregularly shaped funnels mark the whereabouts of the caves on the ground. Small openings of the underground passages can be detected in the bottom of these funnels. The largest opening is situated in the slope of the primitive valley. Having wormed one’s way through it we reach a 1.5 metres wide and 1.3 metres high passage which is a bit aslant. The passage leads into a small cave from which several passages branch off; most of them have collapsed.
 

The Caves of Helme

Helme koopadThe Caves of Helme (according to folk-tales known as “The Tomb of Hell”) are situated on the high and narrow slope of the ridge spreading to the north from the ruins of Helme Castle. The caves are probably made by human hand serving as a hiding place during wartime. The caves have been hollowed out into the white sandstone of burtniek layer. The Caves of Helme have collapsed during the past decades and now they include a larger room and passages branching off from it. Formerly the Caves of Helme were made up of seven rooms connected with each other by passages; some of the rooms were even three metres high. The largest of the caves was called “Old Nick’s Belly”. It was probably the centre of the caves, from which passages branched off into 8 directions. All the passages have already collapsed, but half a century ago it was possible to go several hundred metres down below the road through these passages. According to folk-tales one passage had lead even to Viljandi, the other to Pokardi and the third to Helme Church.
Before the last war the caves had two entrances which lead into larger rooms, so-called halls. These rooms were connected with each other by passages.


Legends about the Caves of Helme

Old Nick’s Belly

When Germans conquered Estonian stronghold (on the location of the ruins of Helme Castle) they found nobody there. Estonians had left through the caves which Germans had no knowledge about even years later. Thus Estonians continued to pray and make sacrifices in the grove.
Finally the knights found out about the fact that Estonians kept visiting the grove. One knight who was known for his brutality, lead his horse among the Estonians, mocked and teased them and started to disperse the crowd by whipping them. Then the wise man of Estonians begged their god Taara to let the earth engulf the knight. The earth opened and the knight on the horse subsided underground. The spot where the knight was devoured underground can be recognized even today. It is situated in the place where the caves have collapsed. The opening that was created by the knight who was swallowed by the earth, later on spread a little until it obtained the shape of a hall without a ceiling. This is the version of the folk-tale.
/Olga Parts 1957/

The Passage Straight to Old Nick

The first passage to the right from the entrance of the Old Nick’s Belly lead to his home – Hell. The first one of the group of people who had entered the passage would never return. Once confirmed boys decided to visit hell through this passage. The first boy was tied to the second one’s hand and so off they went.
When they realized that it was impossible to go any further they turned back. The first boy was missing after they got outside, only the strap was attached to the next boy’s hand. From that day on nobody dared to go into the passage.
/”Uus Elu” (“New Life”) 1957/

The Passage to Viljandi

According to folk-tales underground passages branched off into several directions from the Old Nick’s Belly. Presently they have all collapsed. One of the passages had lead to Viljandi, the other to Pokardi.
In order to secure the exact route of the Viljandi passage, a bell was put around a goose’s neck and then the bird was released into the passage. The goose waddled underground and a man followed the tinkling sound of the goose’s bell on the ground. They reached Viljandi at the same time.
/”Uus Elu” (“New Life”) 1957/