Täna on
The Sacred Hill of Paluküla


The sacred hill of Paluküla, Hiiemägi (also known as Reevimägi or Taaralepa mägi) is located in the Paluküla village of the historical Rapla parish of Harjumaa county in Estonia (in Kehtna commune, Rapla county according to current administrative division). One of the terraces of the hill is named Reevimägi.

The sacred hill is located in a spot exceptional by its natural environment. The borders of the basins of the Gulf of Finland, the Väinameri, and of the Gulf of Riga are located here, as well as the borders of the basins of the Keila, Kasari and Pärnu Rivers. The hill itself is the highest peak of Harjumaa county. Due to its exceptional nature, the hill is a part of the Kõnnumaa landscape protection area. In the last months, a 50-nest strong colony of the rare red wood ants Formica polyctena has been discovered on the hill.

This extraordinary place has been selected as a shrine by the people of Paluküla village. Folk tradition speaks of a sacrificial stone, a site for praying and ceremonies, holy alder trees devoted to the deity Taara, as well birches, lindens and a hole for offerings to the deity Tõnn. The site for praying and ceremonies on the Reevimägi terrace of the hill has been used as a dancing ground in the 20th century. Unique stone walls associated with shrines have been located by archaeologists on the sacred hill. In addition, stone heaps likely to conceal prehistoric graves are located on the Reevimägi terrace of the hill.

As the village of Paluküla is located in a relatively isolated neighbourhood, the sacred hill has been long left intact until the local lord had the holy alder trees cut from the hill in the 19th century. Later, a part of the hill was fenced as fields and pastures. Still, in 1935, a part of the hill was covered by a dense alder grove and the view from the top of the hill was cloaked by the trees.

Today, the administration of the Kehtna County is set to build a sports and recreation centre on the foot of the hill and the Reevimägi terrace. During the last few years, a ski bridge has been built next to the hill, the slopes of the hill have been bulldozed and trees cut down. Cars driving up to the hill along the wide ski tracks have left wide trails heavily eroding the ground.

According to the draft project of the recreation centre, ski lifts are to be installed to the historical site for praying, ceremonies and dancing. The following edifices have been planned next to the site: three service buildings (dressing rooms, restrooms, canteen, ski rental); a garage; a sauna; thirteen camping houses; a motel; a carport; the operating building for the snow cannon; a service centre for trailer wagons; a camping area with parking; eight parking lots for trailer wagons; a parking area with 100 parking lots for cars and a parking area for buses; two ski lifts; a volleyball square; two tennis courts; a football stadium.

The developers have grounded their selection of the site with the fact that the nature of Paluküla is intact. It is obvious that this will not remain so after the mass recreation centre has been founded and the place will lose its present attraction. The first signs are the disappearing nests of the red wood ants Formica polyctena. The peace and quiet of the sacred place will disappear.

Sacred groves and shrines are the oldest natural reserves of Estonia. Peace and quiet has to be preserved in these places. The sacred hill is a place for meditating by oneself as well as for holding councils, observing festivals and praying. Shrines often contain the graves of our forefathers.

The activities and plans on developing the recreation centre in Paluküla is in sharp contrast with the values and norms of native Estonian culture. Kehtna commune should listen to the local people and stop the project completely out of place with the location. In order to avoid similar misunderstandings, all sacred shrines and sites in Estonia should be registered and guarantee them the protection of the state.

December 2003