|• Total||2.22 km2 (0.86 sq mi)|
|• Density||514.9/km2 (1,334/sq mi)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
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 district (Estonian: kihelkond) 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 (now Lutheran) Church of Great Saint John the Evangelist (Groß Sankt Johannis in German), built before the year 1300. There is a Lutheran cemetery near the church. The church was severely damaged during the Livonian War (1558–1582) and the Great Northern War (1700–1721), particularly the latter (the church was burnt down in 1703 and the restoration was completed only in 1767). The present name, "Suure-Jaani" (literally meaning "Great John's"), which came into widespread use for the locality only in the 1880s, when it developed into a village in its own right, is an Estonian derivative from the German name of the church. Until then, the name "Suure-Jaani" was used only for the church as well as its immediate surroundings (the church estate), while other areas of the present town were separate villages: Valula (or Wallola; the southern part of the present town of Suure-Jaani), Nuutre (the eastern part) and Päraküla (or Perraküla; the north-western part; one part of the traditional Päraküla still being an independent village).
During centuries, Suure-Jaani was one of the centres of Suure-Jaani parish and, since the end of the 19th century, also the cultural and commercial centre of the parish region.
In 1906–1908, Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church was built at the village of Valula (now Suure-Jaani). The Orthodox congregation had already been established at the nearby village of Olustvere (at that time also called Ollustfer in German) in 1847. In 1911, an Orthodox cemetery was established at Valula (now Suure-Jaani), replacing the former Orthodox cemetery, which was located at Reegoldi. Since 1989 Sts. Peter and Paul Church has not been used for services and the church is now 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 lakes 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, Suure-Jaani parish was an important region for Estonian culture.
Notable persons buried at the Suure-Jaani cemetery include the composers Artur Kapp, Villem Kapp and Mart Saar, and the painter Johann Köler, as well as Ado Johanson, the first Estonian professional agronomist.
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 promoting 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)
- Soomaa National Park (20–30 km south-west of Suure-Jaani)
- Artur Kapp (1878– 1952), composer
- Villem Kapp (1913–1964), composer
- Albert Kivikas (1898–1978), writer
- Johann Köler (1826–1899), painter
- Paul Kondas (1900–1985), painter
- Lembit Uno Lilleleht (born 1930), professor emeritus of chemical engineering
- Mart Saar (1882–1963), composer
- Herman Simm (born 1947), convicted traitor
- Suure-Jaani vald Official website of Suure-Jaani Rural Municipality
- Home page of the Suure-Jaani Church of Great Saint John at the website of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (in Estonian)