Tõrva is a town in Valga County, Estonia. The administrative
center of Tõrva parish. Not far from Tõrva is the Helme Order
Castle. During the Cold War, Tõrva airbase was located here.
In 1950-1959 it was the center of the Tõrva region.
Helme is considered the oldest parish in Estonia.
The first written mention of Helme parish itself dates back to 1329.
An Estonian settlement was found on the Dance Hill, located in the north of the city, which is considered the center of activity of the ancient people in all of southern Sakala. In 1930, the teacher of the Tõrva gymnasium, Ernst Karolin, discovered a fortress on the same hill, presumably from the 12th to 13th centuries. Nowadays, the area around the castle is a popular destination for summer entertainment.
The first written mentions of Tõrva date back to 1834, according to other sources - to ] at (Törwa, tavern). Then there was a tavern at the intersection of the Valga-Pärnu-Tartu roads. It was originally a wooden house, but after the fire in 1890, a stone building was built in its place. Currently, the former tavern has been restored and is considered one of the symbols of the city.
In 1871, Alexander Oskar von Strick, owner of Helme manor and Patküla village, who owned the forest surrounding the inn, began selling land. The first houses were erected at the intersection of the present Melnichnaya, Viljandiskaya and Tartu streets in 1875-1892.
The growth of the settlement took place in parallel with the growth of the peasant economy. The area around the tavern became a center for hiring peasants and shepherds for the Helme landlords, and fairs were regularly held here. In 1890-1892, there were several dozen houses in Tyrva and the settlement had 400 inhabitants; by 1909, Tõrva already had 150 houses and 1750 inhabitants.
In 1892, the Tõrva Voluntary Social Society was founded, the buildings of which became the centers of social and cultural life in the vicinity of the city. In 1904 Helme's Savings and Borrowing Society was founded, which became one of the first financial institutions in Estonia. In 1908, the Helme-Tõrva Educational Society was founded, which received 454 books for the library and 517 rubles from the Art and Vocal Company. August Krimm, head of the Helme parish school, and Jaak Parik, writer, were chosen as the first chairmen of the Educational Society and curators of the books. The library opened on December 20, 1909.