First mentioning of Kärkna monastery

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Kärkna, also known as Valkena (Falkenau), stood near Tartu, where Amme River debouches into Emajõgi River. The precise date of its construction is unknown, but its though to have happened in the end of 1220s. Thus, it may be the oldest monastery in Estonia. In 1234, however, it was torched by raiding Russians. That event is also the first known mentioning of the monastery. It was soon restored, and it flourished during the XIV and XV centuries. The monastery was occupied by Cistercians, who saw praying and working as the most important engagements. That is why the monastery was economically active: it owned cattle herds, also cultivated fields and gardens, where different kinds of herbs, berries and fruit bearing trees were grown. Even though the monastery survived the changes of the Reformation, which reached Livonia in 1520s, (little changed in the rural areas), the Livonian War was fatal to it. In 1558, Russians invaded and conquered the bishopric of Dorpat, and the inhabitants of the monastery were deported, including the last abbot, Hermann II. The building was left unused, and began to degrade. It was probably fully torn down during the XVIII century, when large number of stone houses were built in Tartu, and the site of former monastery was used as a stone quarry. Today, only few parts of monastery's wall have survived, but not much else can be found on the site, because no archaeological digs have been made there.

Source: Jaan Tamm. Eesti keskaegsed kloostrid = Medieval monasteries of Estonia. Tallinn: Eesti Entsüklopeediakirjastus, 2002.

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