Pirita River Valley

Lush greenery around a river

Ruins of Pirita convent, photo: Tallinn Environment Department
Pirita is a popular place for summer holidays and treatments since the beginning of the 20th century. There are dunes, broadleaved tree forests rich in species, and 150–200-year-old pine forests grow on the terraces of the river valley. The diversity of the landscape has created the prerequisite for the emergence of varied wildlife. It provides habitats for several protected plants, such as the sea thrift, small pasque flower, Baltic Marsh Orchid, creeping lady’s-tresses, and broad-leaved helleborine.

The landscape reserve was first established in the Pirita River lower course valley in 1957. The current landscape reserve was established in 1999. The landscape reserve also covers Tallinn Botanic Garden (founded in 1961) and Iru Hill Fort, where ancient Estonians built a reinforced settlement in the 7th–5th century BC. According to the legend, the hill fort is where the giant hero Kalevipoeg (from Estonian folklore) was born. In the 5th to 11th centuries BC, a fortress was located in the same place. This, however, was abandoned after the Toompea Castle was built in Tallinn. The nearby Iru outcrop is probably the most representative outcrop of obolus phosphorus in Estonia.

Three kilometres of underground tunnels have remained from the construction of position No. 12 of the Peter the Great’s Naval Fortress. The mouth of its drainage tunnel, the so-called Iru Cave, can be seen north of the hill fort, near Narva highway. In addition, the heavy howitzer position has remained in Kose, which is a concrete shelter with several rooms that has been built in the ground.