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Saareküla Village

Saareküla Village, or Saarõkülä, is located in Põlva County, in Räpina Rural Municipality. Covering an area of 14.30 km2 Saareküla Village is the third largest village in Räpina Rural Municipality by surface area (5.38 % of the total area of Räpina Rural Municipality). According to the rural municipality register there are 27 people living in the Saareküla village (as of 1 August 2012). Thirteen households are in use all year round (as of 2006). Saareküla Village is located 3 km north of Leevaku Village. To the north, the village is bordered by the Määrastu and Meelva bogs and to the east by Meelva Lake.

The village was formed in the middle of the 19th century, initially only in the centre of the village, but later also on the bog islands. The first people living in the village and their farms were located on the northern end of Saareküla Lake (Konsa, Pari, Parma and Saksa farms). Island farms were built after the woods in the area were felled and new land was freed. Certain boundaries were established for the farms, within which the renter was able to use the land however he saw fit or to the best of his abilities. It was even permitted to use still growing forest on the land for heating or construction. The bogs and forests in the boundaries of the church manor were free for herding, picking berries or mushrooms or making sauna whisks for own use. The village was in its entirety at the beginning of the 20th century.

Since the village is now located almost entirely on an island surrounded by forest, it has a name that reflects its location (Estonian ‘saare’ translates to ‘island’ and ‘küla’ to ‘village’). The land and the forests belonged to the church of Räpina Parish, and all farms in the village paid rent to the local pastor. In addition to Saareküla, the church also owned the western part of Raadama Village. According to the administrative division, all church lands in these two parts belonged to Räpina Rural Municipality. Since Saareküla was separated from the neighbouring village by the forest surrounding it, then village life was also peculiar in a cultural sense. In some parts the culture was influenced by church culture. In order to be liked by the pastor, who was the landlord, the people in the village had to be, at least seemingly, more religious than others and church attendances on Sundays were high.

Each farmer was responsible for keeping the roads leading through the village and towards the secluded island farms – so called byroads – in good order. In 1925, the road going through the village was classified as a public road that was to be taken care of together. This improved the state of the road considerably.

In 1871, a local school was opened in Saareküla, on the land of the Konsa farm. The school was closed down in 1901, when a ministry school was opened in Raadama.

Halika farm, which is active in growing fruits and berries, is located in the village. Over the last decade two new private houses have been built on the farm land of the Ülesaare farm. Agriculture is still practiced in the village, but some farm fields have also become covered by forest.


It is believed that Saareküla Lake originated as a result of a bog fire, since the banks around the lake are very steep. Also, there are a number of tree stumps on the lake floor – some of them have sunk in the mud and some have risen up to the waterline. The surface area of the lake is 9.8 ha, with a maximum depth (in the southern part of the lake) of 14.3 m. After the water level was lowered by 0.5 m around 1960, the lake has divided into two, connected by a narrow part which is almost impassable by boat traffic during summer time.

The shores to the north and the west are shallow and swampy, the even water surface is surrounded by a quaggy strip. On the higher east bank there are fields and garden lands. There is a swimming area in the south-west part of the lake where the floor is sandy. Water flow is weak. The water of the lake is ruddy-brown; transparency is low (0.9 m).