While “southern Estonia” might sound like something warm, or at least not so cold as the rest of the country, it is, in fact, even colder than coastal Estonia further up in the north and west.
Nevertheless, this part of the country is widely considered to be the most picturesque and hence – not surprisingly – in high regard among Estonian artists, especially filmmakers. It’s time to expand the region’s popularity and put it on a global map, at least in terms of films.
There are tons of gorgeous spots to use as movie locations in the southern part of this lovely Baltic state. Deep lakes, hills and valleys, and authentic people make this region the gem it is. Add deep forests, cute towns and charming churches and manors, and you will never want to shoot your movie anywhere else. Southern Estonia is also where some of the most unique and traditional communities can be found. Take Setos or Old Believers, for instance. Or the so-called võros, the inhabitants of historical Võromaa, a region in Southeastern Estonia – they even have their own language, not too dissimilar from Estonian, but an almost independent language (dialect) nevertheless.
While many consider Tartu (the second-largest city in Estonia) to be the center of Southern Estonia, there are many more “southern” places in this region. If you’re looking for a manor, make sure you visit Alatskivi, Sangaste, and Mooste. If nature is your thing, don’t miss the observation tower on Suur Munamägi, the two Taevaskoda outcrops, Alam-Pedja Nature Reserve and Ilmatsalu fish ponds, and Riisa study trail in the Soomaa National Park. Should your script include canoeing or boat trips, make note of Lake Peipsi, Lake Pühajärv, Ahja River and Taevaskoda.
Furthermore, there are many exciting places that can accommodate a movie scene: a fairly recently opened Estonian Road Museum, for instance. Or the Valga Military Theme Park, aptly situated on the site where the Paju Battle of the War of Independence took place. In case you forgot your props back home, the theme park will provide you with military vehicles, tanks, and other weapons. Oh, and there’s a bunker, in case you need a claustrophobic vibe.
Whatever the story you want to film, Southern Estonia will surely contribute to it. As will the Estonian government, in the form of a cash-rebate incentive that could save you up to 30% of eligible production costs.
Photos: Visit Estonia