Vastseliina Episcopal Castle is a fabulous place, full of myths and legends, located on a large outcrop in the middle of wild nature. In addition, the remains of the castle and a holy shrine have been here since the 14th century, and recently opened its doors Medieval Theme Park and Pilgrim House. Visitors can also see the manor park and stroll along the nature trails, or enter a lovely little chapel that is there for passerby.
In the ruins of the most powerful and imposing fortress in Medieval Livonia lies a consecrated shrine. Since the miracle in the castle’s Holy Cross Chapel in 1353, the castle has been a popular destination for thousands of pilgrims and repentant sinners in addition to, many historians and history lovers. Unfortunately, the time has not been propitious for the castle nor the place of worship and almost nothing has left from its former glory. Vastseliina Piiskoplinnuse Foundation is in charge of rounding off the castle and the shrine in order to offer elation for our visitors, and it would be pleasant when people from far and near find their way to that majestic place.
In the endeavour to please our customers, Medieval Theme Park is open to the public in the summertime. Medieval Theme Park compound consists of a lovely little chapel, Pilgrim House and the tavern nearby. Pilgrim House features interactive exhibits which introduce the life and history of pilgrimage. Visitors are welcome to eat and relax at Piiri Tavern. When booking in advance, the castle’s tavern offers delicious dishes inspired by the medieval cuisine cooked by the local fresh food according to the medieval recipes. The Foundation is ready to meet the next challenges of rebuilding the castle’s grassy chapel in order to give sermons, concerts or even a chance to get married in the future. You can contribute to the restoration of a significant part of Estonian cultural heritage when you come and visit our Medieval Theme Park, attend concerts or order packages, rent rooms, celebrate birthdays or weddings, buy presents or light candles on the altar in the chapel.
You are warmly welcome to the castle!
Holy Cross Chapel
Holy Cross Chapel, also known as the medieval shrine accepts gladly people who believe in miracles!
Probably on the Day of the Annunciation, 25th March in 1342 the virgin Mary’s castle Frouwenborch’i (later Novum castrum, Neuhausen, Novõi gorodok and Vastseliina)was built where was believed a sacred place to lie. Archbishop of Riga Vromhold de Vifhusen writes in his letter about the details of the miracle and the divine power of the chapel that cause convalescence from health problems. The announcement made a deep impression on Pope Innocentius VI and in 1454 he released a document that those who repent sins, say prayers and visit the chapel on the day of the Resurrection every year get free from sins for a year and forty days. The pope’s great determination of the document sparked pilgrimages all over the world and Holy Cross Chapel in Vastseliina became Livonia’s most popular destination.
The fame of Vastseliina as a sacred place had lost fame in the stream of religious cleansing and because of other factors but luckily has gained its popularity nowadays. Thanks to Pirita Monastery and its supporters the Pirita – Vana -Vastseliina Pilgrimage route has been drawn on the map
Therefore, a number of pilgrims and hikers who undertake the route is increasing yearly. Pilgrim House is a complex of Medieval Theme Park which displays interactive exhibits introducing the life and history of pilgrims. In 2018 major restoration works began in the castle’s grounds alongside with the building of Holy Cross Chapel. Thousands of people fascinated by Estonian historical and cultural sites and especially pilgrimage are expected to visit the shrine in Vana – Vastseliina.
Until the sacred place since 1353, has been restored to its former glory, a chapel for passerby provides satisfaction of emotional state. The catholic chapel having aura of sanctity was established with the help of Pirita Monastery in the basement of Piiri Inn and consecrated by the theologian Vello Salo offers any passerby to forget a last- minute rush, light a candle and make a wish. It is possible to hold services, perform wedding ceremonies, give concerts or organize other social gatherings for small groups in the chapel.
The manor park
The manor park in Vana – Vastseliina, near to the castle, attracts nature lovers, hikers and also, bird watchers find it quiet place to spot rare birds.
The park is situated in the west wing of a castle down the slope. The park can be reached easily when climbing down the romantic winding staircase or, you can approach the park a little further away on the road.
In 1830, the owner of the manor, squire Guido Reinhold von Liphart designed a spectacular park spreading about 8 hectares full of different species. There is also a bandstand where public festivals are held. People can admire the curved and flowing River the Piusa meander gently across the park. In early spring the Piusa River is one of the most popular inland waterways, with a wealth of wildlife and beautiful scenery, loved by travellers.
Several hiking trails begin in the park and lead through the valley.
The hiking trail in the primeval valley of the Piusa River is a part of Peraküla-Aegviidu-Ähijärve 820 kilometres long hiking trail. The fifteen-kilometre-long hiking trail moves along the Piusa River and introduces the old valley nature reserve. The ruins of the castle, old water mills, rocky outcrops of sandstone and meadows full of species can be seen at the riverside track. The trail starts at the ruins of Vastseliina Episcopal Castle, goes along the primeval valley of the Piusa River and leads to Lindora village on Võru–Obinitsa road. You can find Make and Härma campfire sites on the track.
Those who want to hike on a shorter distance may take up the challenge of 3-kilometre-long trail which starts and ends in the ruins of the castle.
The Arts and Crafts store
The Arts and Crafts store has been established into an old smithy and is located across the road opposite the main building. The Arts and Crafts store offers a diverse range of practical and exquisite handicraft made by local craftsmen. On the open shelves one can find gloves, hats, socks, shawls, blankets (patchwork), rags, teddy bears, trinkets and gifts to everyone’s taste.
There you can purchase completely unique and quality handicrafts made from natural materials inspired by the local crafts tradition. Purchasing handmade goods, anything special for yourself or as a present for your beloved, definitely you do a favour by supporting the local community.
Arts and Crafts Store is open from the beginning of June to the end of August.