On 17 June, at the final round of the competition for the title of Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture 2021, an International 5-member jury selected Abja-Paluoja from Estonia's Mulgimaa region as the next Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture. The jury pointed out a diverse programme and opportunity to familiarize Mulgi culture and Mulgimaa region to the Finno-Ugric world among the strengths of Abja-Paluoja – the historical capital of Mulgimaa.

Delegation of Abja-Paluoja and Mulgimaa region during the final presentation on June 17. Photo: TaaVid Meedia

In the final round of the Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture 2021 competition, Abja-Paluoja faced off with the Erzya villa Podlesnaya Tavla (Mordovia, Russian Federation). For the first time in the 8-year history of the Finno-Ugric capitals of culture progamme, candidates delivered their presentations online, with a livestream on Facebook.

Even though according to the jury both candidates had strengths, the title was awarded to Abja-Paluoja. In the words Anna Kuznetsova (Fenno-Ugria Youth, Estonia) Abja-Paluoja's strengths included a diverse programme of events, their link to Mulgimaa's regional development objectives, and an opportunity to present Mulgi culture and Mulgimaa region to kindred Finno-Ugric peoples.

According to Oliver Loode, one of the initiators of the Finno-Ugric capital of culture programme (URALIC Centre for Indigenous Peoples), the return of the title to Estonia will give new energy both for the Finno-Ugric capitals of culture movement and international Finno-Ugric cooperation in general, "Because the 8th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples" will take place on the same year in Tartu, and Mulgimaa will have the Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture, Estonia will have an opportunity to re-energise the Finno-Ugric movement and to offer new directions for its development. Now the Mulgi people will have an important role in this."


Abja-Paluoja is the historical capital of Mulgimaa region, and currently a town with 1124 in the Mulgi rural municipality. The programme of the Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture will include of all Mulgimaa. The lead theme is Mulgi handicrafts, archaic Mulgi ornament in ethnic costumes and contemporary design and in public space. The flagship event of the capital of culture year will be the Mulgi festival 2021 – "Sia ja mia ütenkuun" (You and me together) which will be held in the Karksi manor park in Karksi parish. Abja-Paluoja application was submitted by the Mulgi Cultural Institute.  

About Finno-Ugric Capitals of Culture

Established in 2013, the programme of Finno-Ugric Capitals of Culture is a flagship initiative of MAFUN and URALIC Centre that aims to raise awareness of Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic peoples as well as Uralic languages, to strengthen collective Finno-Ugric identity and to stimulate sustainable local development in different corners of the Finno-Ugric world.

To date, the title of Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture has been awarded to seven villages or cities: Udmurtian village Bygy (2014), Seto village Obinitsa (2015), Hungarian village Iszkaszentgyörgy and City of Veszprém (2016), Karelian village Vuokkiniemi (2017), Mari village Shorunzha (2019) and Mari-speaking village Mishkan in Bashkortostan (2020).

Contact:  Oliver Loode (oliver.loode@uralic.org, Tel. +372 513 2992)