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Köstrimäe Village

Köstrimäe Village is located in Põlva County, in Räpina Rural Municipality. Köstrimäe Village covers an area of 9.50 km2 (3.57 % of the total area of Räpina Rural Municipality). According to the rural municipality register there are 136 people living in the village (as of 1 August 2012). Fifty-four households are in use all year round (as of 2006).

It has been said that Köstrimäe (parish clerk’s hill) obtained its name from being the residence of the parish clerk. The following is from the magazine “Olevik”, 1885: “Located two versts from the church is the house of the rural municipality clerk. The local parish school house, built in 1878, is located on the same property. The building is big, like all buildings in Räpina parish, but it is built without any plan and, frankly, not very well. The house of the rural municipality clerk is located next to Maarja manor, which is a small piece of land holding manor rights that the heirs of the Löwenwolde gave to the person who caught the murderer of their father. There are old graves on the plot of that little manor.”

The graves refer to the Maarjamõisa cemetery. The Maarjamõisa cemetery is located in a place that the local people still refer to as Maarjamäe. The place got the name Maarjamõisa when the heirs of Löwenwolde offered the land with manor rights to the person who caught their father’s murderer. The Maarjamõisa cemetery, 80 fathoms in length and 25 fathoms in width (1 fathom = the distance between the fingers of stretched-out hands), was opened on the land of a herd manor named Maarjamõisa, after it was prohibited to bury the dead near churches and houses at the end of the 18th century. The cemetery has since been abandoned; in the 1950s it was even used as a shingle pit. Yet, the place remains significant in the history of Räpina – this is the final resting place for the members of the Räpina manor family and the masters and apprentices of the paper mill, including Estonians, who were at the time considered to be the top craftsmen in Europe.

In the same village there is also another forgotten cemetery – Köstrimäe cemetery (or, Jaamaküla cemetery). This is the burial place of Dean Johann Friedrich Heller (1814-1849), who played a large part in developing the Estonian written language (and culture). Heller also devoted time to dealing with the issues of schooling and education.

Both of the former cemeteries have been marked with an information board and volunteers cleaned them in the spring.

In Köstrimäe Village, an important site in cultural and educational history, the ruins of a two-storey stone parish school building still remain. In the beginning of the 20th century it was the site where the choir of school masters, the first choir in Räpina parish, met. The principal of Köstrimäe School was the writer, choir master and cultural figure Thomas Undritz (1833-1907). It was at this school that artist-writer Jaan Vahtra and composer and choir master Richard Ritsing studied

Accommodation services in Köstrimäe Village are provided by Summer House Maarjamäe.