Helme Koopad

Helme Cave - Devil's Stomach

Useful Information

Location: At Helme, near Tõrva, Valgamaa, Estland.
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave House
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Helme Koopad (Helme Cave) is an artificial cave cut into a sandstone outrcrop near the ruins of Helme castle. The locals call it Vanakurja vats (Devil's Stomach) or Moosese kirik (Moses' Church). There are several chambers, according to legend there were once seven chambers. Some are said to have caved in. The caves may have started as a natural phenomenon, but were widened manually.

The castle was built by the Teutonic Knights at the end of the 13th century. In the 16th century it became Polish. In the 17th century it was seized by the Swedes, and finally destroyed in 1658.

It is rather unclear why the caves were built. One legend says it was because of the fights around the castle. But who hid in the caves is unclear. And there is also the inevitable legend that the cave is the start of underground passages leading to the castle.

The cave received its current state during the 18th century, when the local landlord planned to build a grotto similar to those in England. It seems the grotto was never completed.