Lüllemäe and Sangaste
Lüllemäe looked like a ghost town. There wasn't a soul there,
except for the shopkeeper who sold us some groceries. I suppose everyone was
in the fields. We walked over a pleasant, shady area of grass on the way
to the church, and I thought at least someone must live here because it had
been recently mown. We looked through a window of a huge barn, which was
full of abandoned agricultural implements. The church itself was huge,
like all the Estonian churches we saw. It had been devastated several times
by bombs or invading armies and had no roof. The space between
the walls was a wasteland of tall, impenetrable weeds.
We stopped off on the way to Soomaa at Sangaste, a Victorian
castle. Mark said there wasn't time to go inside, so most people spent their
time trying out the peculiar echo in the porch, which, the guidebook says,
'invites all visitors to try it'. This is putting things a bit
strongly, but it at least replies if you do. Creina was determined to go
in, so I went with her.
The castle made an interesting comparison with
Cardiff Castle. Both are Victorian fantasies, but the
mood is very different: Cardiff is exuberantly ornate, while Sangaste is
austere - though perhaps it will be less so when the restoration is finished.
It was built by one of Estonia's German aristocrats, Count Friedrich von Berg,
who is now mostly remembered for developing a strain of winter rye named after
the castle. (A handful of it was planted on his grave.) We liked the blue-and-white tiles in the library, decorated
with the cartoon-style adventures of an imaginary English squire (fighting a
duel with riding crops at dawn etc).
We returned to the coach and arrived at Soomaa National Park
in time for lunch.