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BP 191-192
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Valga/Valka Maps

Jan S. Krogh's Geosite: Twin towns of   

Valga (EE) Valka (LV)
Area: 16,5 km² 14,2 km²
Population:  15 330  7100

A place called Walk was first time mentioned in 1286. For more than 400 years the Estonian-Latvian twin city of Valga and Valka has existed. In 1584 it got city rights and came under Polish rule. In 1626 the Estonian side came under Swedish rule, and about 100 years later both towns became parts of the Russian Empire. Valga was occupied by Germany in January 1918 and Estonia declared her independence on 24 February. Later the same year on 15 November Latvia did the same. 
Disagreement between the two countries about belonging of Valga/Valka appeared soon after Latvia had proclaimed her independence. The international arbitrage headed by the British envoy Colonel S. G. Tallents on 1 July 1920 conclusively established the border between Estonia and Latvia, including to give almost the whole built-up territory of Valka to Valga. Valka received only Lugazi Square and approximately 80 wooden buildings. According to Latvian records about 2500 Latvian citizens moved from the Estonian side. Valga proper up to Konnaoja and Luke graveyard remains intact under Estonian rule. Thereafter border posts were established and the two cities became divided for 21 years until World War II. The German occupation was in 1944 substituted by Soviet occupation. During these years only republican borders existed and people and goods had free movement. Since land property was somewhat cheaper on the Latvian side some Estonians decided to move across the border of this reason while other bought flats or got a job in the neighbouring republic. 
In August/September the Baltic countries' independence got international recognition and new border posts was established according to the boundary of 1920. Only some minor adjustments were done inside the cities. Due to high number of unemployment and low salaries most families who had got stick on the other side of the border did not have money to move to their homeland as the Latvians did 70 years earlier. Daily problems like to wait up to 2 hours at the border crossings, language problems when filling out official forms and  difference price levels in the two countries are only some of the major problems. Sometimes it is necessary to wait for up to one week to get permissions to transport deceased over the city boundary to their homeland for burial.

Particularities at the Estonian-Latvian boundary at Valga/Valka: 
(Borderline report of summer 2003.)

East of boundary post 190:
One Estonian-Latvian grave yard is located on Latvian territory, and one Estonian-Latvian graveyard is located on Estonian side. Visitors from the neighbouring country are allowed carrying special border passes. 
(See also «From boundary post 214 and further north» below.)

Between boundary posts 190H-2 and 191:
Two Latvian farms have address at 118 and 120 Võru street, Estonia. The residents as well as visitors can only enter the neighbouring country by carrying special border passes.

Between boundary posts  191 and 192:
The boundary between boundary posts 191A and 191 B is along an about 35 meter long Estonian garage wall reaching the Latvian boundary. The eaves and cables connecting to the wall are situated inside Latvia.

Between boundary post 207 and 208:
The boundary is reaching the Latvian boundary between boundary posts 207 and 208 along an about 10 metre long Estonian wall of a house in a residential area. The eaves and a outlet pipe of this house are situated on Latvian side.

Between boundary posts  209 and 210: 
About 4,5 m² of a garage at 35 Viljandi street, Valga, Estonia is located actually on Latvian side.

Between boundary posts 211 and 212:
One street is divided in one northern Latvian part, Savienibas, and one southern Estonian part, Põhja. In Savienibas street, which is making the longest part of this «double-street», there are living 8 families and 1 individual occupying one living-in house. Out of these 7 families are Estonians, 1 family is Latvian and the individual is an Estonian native speaker with Latvian citizenship. The Estonian citizens are receiving electricity from Estonia and work in Estonia. They can walk over to Estonian side at a very simplified border regime (carrying special border passes), but are inside Estonian custom zone which they find very difficult. Only from 2006 when both Estonia and Latvia both are expected to become members of the Schengen zone they hope their lives again will be normalised.

From boundary post 214 and further north:
At Estonian highway 6 from Valga and north, as well as along Estonian national road 67 from Valga east of boundary post 190 these two roads are going along the Estonian-Latvian boundary. Big informational traffic signs and black and white boundary posts are notifying travellers about the border zone, but Estonian border guards are constantly due to this fact reporting a big number of border violations because travellers simply are not aware of the location of the national boundary. Most violations are happening at car break-downs or simply is making a stop to take a break, when the driver in both situations is passing out of the road and immediately crossing into Latvian territory. 

Estonian special border passes in Valga:
The Valga border passes are issued by the Estonian Border Guards for different periods of time for crossing the divided streets of Savienibas (LV) and Põhja (EE), the houses in no. 118 and 120 Võru street and the graveyard east of the cities.

1. «Valga - Valka», a leaflet published by both cities' municipalities under the European Union's Phare Programme, about 2000.
2. Valka - Valga Town Plan, 1:20 000, ISBN 9984-07-296-7, Jana Seta, Riga, about. 2001.
3. «Valga Piirivalvepiirkond 1923-2003», a booklet published by Valga Border Cordon, 2003.
4. Ajalooline Valga, Valga Museum, 1999, ISBN 9985-9210-4-6.
5. Interview with Captain Tamar Tamm at Valga Cordon of the Estonian Border Guard Service, July 2003.

This page was last time updated on 04.03.12