Infobox Settlement
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = EST
subdivision_type1 = County
map_caption = Location of Suure-Jaani
|official_name=Suure-Jaani linn

image_shield=Suure-Jaani_coatofarms.pngsubdivision_name1=Viljandi County
leader_name=Maie Käba
coor=58°32′18" N 25°28′8" E

Suure-Jaani is a town in the northern part of the county of Viljandimaa in Southern Central Estonia, 25 kilometres north of the town of Viljandi. Suure-Jaani is the centre of Suure-Jaani rural municipality.


The oldest archaeological findings from the area date back to the 6th millennium B.C. At the end of the 12th century A.D., the Lehola hill fort of ancient Estonians was built at a location (now known as Lõhavere) approximately two kilometres north-east of the present town border. The hill fort was the centre of the northernmost parish in the historical Estonian county of Sakala and also one of the centres of Estonians' fight against the conquest of German Sword Brethren in the 13th century. Not much except the hill remains of it but the place (known in Estonian also as "Lembitu linnamägi") is still visited as a tourist attraction. 2/3 of the hill-fort have been excavated archaeologically.

The locality of Suure-Jaani was initially called Wallola (or "Valle"), first recorded in 1423(?). The town began to develop around the Church of Great Saint John the Evangelist ("Groß Sankt Johannis" in German), built before the year 1300 [ Home page of the Suure-Jaani Church of Great Saint John at the website of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (in Estonian)] ] . The church was severely damaged during the Livonian War (1558–1582) and the Great Northern War (1700–1721), particularly the latter, and stayed in ruins until roofed again in 1767. The present name "Suure-Jaani" (literally meaning "Great John's"), which came into use in the 17th century and gradually replaced "Wallola", is an Estonian derivate from the German name of the church. Lutheran services are held at the church.

During the following centuries, Suure-Jaani was the centre of Suure-Jaani parish and also the cultural and commercial centre of the parish region.

In 1906–1908, St. Peter Paul's Orthodox Church was built at Suure-Jaani. The Orthodox congregation had already been established in 1847. At present day, St. Peter Paul's Church is not used for services and is in need of repair.

In 1924, Suure-Jaani was granted the rights of a town (Estonian: alev) and in 1938, it was granted city rights.

In 1950–1959, Suure-Jaani was the capital of Suure-Jaani District (of the Estonian SSR). The 1950s also marked the all-time peak number (approximately 1700) in the population of the town.


Suure-Jaani is situated in a hilly region (Sakala Upland), offering picturesque views with its park, artificial lake and church in the centre of the town.


Due to its small size, Suure-Jaani has no urban transport. The town has a small bus station for intercity lines. The nearest railway station is at Olustvere (5 km). The nearest towns are Võhma (12 km), Viljandi (25 km), Põltsamaa (28 km) and Vändra (32 km). The distance of Suure-Jaani from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is 143 km.


During the Estonian national awakening period in the 19th century, the town was an important cultural spot.

Notable persons buried at the Suure-Jaani cemetery include the composers Artur Kapp, Villem Kapp and Mart Saar, and the painter Johann Köler. The latter was the first Estonian academic painter, a member of the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts and a painter at the Russian Emperor's court

Presently, Suure-Jaani hosts the Suure-Jaani Music Days, an annual summer festival of classical music started in 1998, dedicated to the Kapp family of composers. Suure-Jaani is also the place of establishment of the International Artur Kapp Society, a non-profit foundation for the promotion of the works and life of composer Artur Kapp and other authors related to Suure-Jaani.

Places of Interest

* Church of Great Saint John the Evangelist
* Lehola hill fort (Lembitu linnamägi) of ancient Estonians (at Lõhavere)
* Home museum of the Kapp family of composers and musicians
* Home museum of composer Mart Saar at Hüpassaare (in Suure-Jaani rural municipality)
* Home museum of painter Johann Köler at Lubjassaare farm (Ivaski village in Suure-Jaani rural municipality)
* Monument of the Estonian War of Independence (depicting Lembitu of Lehola)

Notable Residents

* Artur Kapp, composer
* Villem Kapp, composer
* Paul Kondas, painter
* Mart Saar, composer
* Eduard von Gebhardt, painter

External links

* [ Suure-Jaani vald] Official website of Suure-Jaani Rural Municipality


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