Part of the Russian Empire

History of Estonia between 1722 - 1918

Sweden's defeat by Russia in the Great Northern War resulted in the Capitulation of Estonia and Livonia in 1710, confirmed by the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, and Russian rule was then imposed on what later became modern Estonia. Nonetheless, the legal system, Lutheran church, local and town governments, and education remained mostly German until the late 19th century and partially until 1918.

By 1819, the Baltic provinces were the first in the Russian empire in which serfdom was abolished, the largely autonomous nobility allowing the peasants to own their own land or move to the cities. These moves created the economic foundation for the coming to life of the local national identity and culture as Estonia was caught in a current of national awakening that began sweeping through Europe in the mid-19th century.

The Estophile enlightenment period (1750–1840)

Educated German immigrants and local Baltic Germans in Estonia, educated at German universities, introduced Enlightenment ideas of rational thinking, ideas that propagated freedom of thinking and brotherhood and equality. The French Revolution provided a powerful motive for the enlightened local upper class to create literature for the peasantry. The freeing of the peasantry from serfdom on the nobles' estates in 1816 in Southern Estonia: Governorate of Livonia and 1819 in Northern Estonia: Governorate of Estonia by Alexander I of Russia gave rise to a debate as to the future fate of the former enslaved peoples. Although Baltic Germans by and large regarded the future of the Estonians as being a fusion with the Baltic Germans, the Estophile educated class admired the ancient culture of the Estonians and their era of freedom before the conquests by Danes and Germans in the 13th century. The Estophile Enlightenment Period formed the transition from religious Estonian literature to newspapers written in Estonian for the mass public.

National awakening

A cultural movement sprang forth to adopt the use of Estonian as the language of instruction in schools, all-Estonian song festivals were held regularly after 1869, and a national literature in Estonian developed. "Kalevipoeg", Estonia's national epic, was published in 1861 in both Estonian and German.

1889 marked the beginning of the central government-sponsored policy of Russification. The impact of this was that many of the Baltic German legal institutions were either abolished or had to do their work in Russian – a good example of this is the University of Tartu.

As the Russian Revolution of 1905 swept through Estonia, the Estonians called for freedom of the press and assembly, for universal franchise, and for national autonomy. Estonian gains were minimal, but the tense stability that prevailed between 1905 and 1917 allowed Estonians to advance the aspiration of national statehood.

Reference: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1722 and 1918 in Estonia

Tartu City Museum

The Tartu City Museum was established in 1955 for collecting, studying and displaying the objects connected with town history as well as other sources. The permanent exhibition “Dorpat. Yuryev. Tartu”, staged at the Tartu City Museum in 2001, is a museological interpretation of the history of Tartu. Also the exhibition of Tartu peace treaty of 1920 is updated to be a permanent. The museum building itself is a ...
Founded: 1790 | Location: Tartu, Estonia

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is an orthodox cathedral in Tallinn. It is built to a design by Mikhail Preobrazhensky in a typical Russian Revival style between 1894 and 1900, during the period when the country was part of the Russian Empire. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Tallinn's largest and grandest orthodox cupola cathedral. It is dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky who in 1242 won the Battle of the Ice on Lake Pe ...
Founded: 1894-1900 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Taali Manor

Taali manor derives its name (Staelenhof) from the family Staël von Holstein, who received the estate as a gift in the 17th century and who were the owners up until the Estonian land reform of 1919. The present-day limestone building, in neo-Renaissance style, was built in 1852 but heavily damaged during World War II. Today only about one third of the original building remains.
Founded: 1852 | Location: Taali, Estonia

Freedom Square

The Freedom Square ("Vabaduse väljak") is the main square of Tallinn and also the site of the War of Independence Victory Column. The square has had several names during history. The five-meter monument to Peter the Great was erected there by the Russian empire in 1910 and the square was named after him. After the Estonian independence in 1922 the statue was melted and recycled and the square named as the Freedom S ...
Founded: 1910 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Pärnu Kuursaal

Built in the 1880s, Kuursaal (Casino), a restaurant and musical salon, has always been an important centre of Pärnu's resort life. In summer evenings, most events have taken place outside, around the outdoor stage. The outdoor stage, designed by the city architect O. Siinmaa in 1936, was an elegant interpretation of Pärnu's "resort functionalism" in wood. As a result of the renovations carried out in 1980s, it ...
Founded: 1880's | Location: Pärnu, Estonia

Barclay de Tolly Mausoleum

The Barclay de Tolly Mausoleum commemorates one of the most famous Russian commanders who fought Napoleon in 1812 and 1813 and who culminated his triumph with a march through Paris in March 1814. His family was partially of Scottish extraction but from the 17th century had lived in what is now Latvia and Lithuania. Following the Russian conquest of Finland in 1809, he was the first governor-general there until 1812. J&ot ...
Founded: 1823 | Location: Helme, Estonia

Viljandi Museum

The museum of Viljandi exhibits the history of Viljandimaa from prehistoric times to Soviet era. The museum was established in 1878 and it is located to the oldest stone building in the city, built by J. J. Schoeler in 1780.
Founded: 1878 | Location: Viljandi, Estonia

Vihula Manor

Vihula Manor complex is one of the largest and most and significant in Estonia. It belonged to von Schubert family between 1810-1919. Most of the over 20 buildings date back to the 19th century. The main building was constructed in 1892 to replace the earlier one destroyed by fire. Today Vihula Manor provides luxurious accommodation in historical manor buildings. There is also a spa, conference center and golf courses av ...
Founded: 1892 | Location: Vihula, Estonia

Ahja Manor

The manor of Ahja was first mentioned in 1553. The current two-storey, Baroque style main building was erected in 1749 by Guillemot de Villebois. Later, the manor belonged to the von Lipharts, von Löwis of Menars and von Brasches. In 1929-97, the building housed a local school. About a kilometre from the manor's centre is a chapel (with a beautiful Neo-Renaissance portal) and family graveyard of the von Brasche&# ...
Founded: 1749 | Location: Ahja, Estonia

Viimsi Manor

Viimsi Manor, which was established by St. Brigitta Nunnery of Pirita, was first mentioned in 1471 as Wiems. After the Great Northern War the manor had multiple owners, among those the Stenbock, Buxhoeveden, Maydell and Schottländer families. The one-storey stone-made house got its present shape after the fire of 1865. After the dispossession in 1919 the manor was gifted to the Commander-in-chief of the Estonian Army Ge ...
Founded: 1865 | Location: Viimsi, Estonia

Järvamaa Museum

Järvamaa Museum was found in 1905. The former veterinary clinic in Paide Lembitu park was adjusted for museum building in 1950s. The permanent exhibition about the county was opened in 1956. Nowadays museum still functions in the same building. You can visit Järvamaa museum in Paide from Tuesday till Saturday. Reference: Visit Estonia
Founded: 1905 | Location: Paide, Estonia

Kabala Manor

Kabala (Kabbal) became an independent manorial estate in 1638. It has belonged to several different Baltic German families. The present house was erected around 1770 when Hans Georg von Uexküll was the landowner, in a late baroque style. Later on, the estate belonged to the von Lipharts and von Vietinghoffs, with the latter established their burial site and Neo-Gothic funeral chapel (in ruins ...
Founded: ca. 1770 | Location: Kabala, Estonia

St. John's Church

The St. John’s (Jaani) church in Valga is one of the most beautiful churches in Estonia. The construction started in 1787, but it was not completed until 1816. The church represents Baroque and Classicism styles. It was built according to the design of architect Christoph Haberland and it is the only church in Estonia with an oval ground plan. The unique organ has been preserved in its original shape and it is the o ...
Founded: 1787-1816 | Location: Valga, Estonia

Pärnu Museum

Pärnu Museum exhibits the 11,000 years of Pärnu City and County history from the mid-Stone Age through the present. There's also a recreated Soviet-furnished room to remind of the more recent past.
Founded: 1895 | Location: Pärnu, Estonia

Ammende Villa

Villa Ammende is one of the best examples of early art nouveau style in Estonia. The grand villa with a large garden was built in 1905 and belonged to the Ammende merchant family. The façades and interiors of the house were abundant, rich in detail and diverse, but also very stylish. The family went bankrupt after the First World War and the villa was sold to Pärnu City. The house has been used as a summer cas ...
Founded: 1905 | Location: Pärnu, Estonia

Kirna Manor

The Kirna estate was given as a gift to the von Fersen family in 1614 and remained in the ownership for over a hundred years. After 1787, it belonged to various Baltic German and Russian families from the nobility. After 1919 it was used as a school up until World War II. During the Soviet occupation of Estonia, the manor housed the offices of a collective farm. Today it stands in private ownership and is used for it's en ...
Founded: ca. 1820 | Location: Kirna, Estonia

Saku Manor

The Manor of Saku village was originally founded in the Middle Ages, first record date back to the year 1513. The manor house itself was constructed in 1820 and it is among the best examples of classicistic architecture in Estonia. It is believed that the building was designed by Carlo Rossi - one of the most famous architects of the period. The renewed Saku Manor was opened in 2002 as a recreational and conference centr ...
Founded: 1820 | Location: Saku, Estonia

Rapla Church

The Lutheran church of Mary Magdalene was built in 1899-1901. The huge two-tower church is one of the biggest in Estonia. The limestone building can accommodate 3,000 people. It tThe New Roman style building was designed by Baltic German architect Rudolf von Engelhardt. The altar wall (1737) is moved from the previous church. The altarpiece is painted by C. Walter in 1862.
Founded: 1899-1901 | Location: Rapla, Estonia

Räpina Church

The present church of Räpinä is probably the third, earlier have been destroyed in wars. The current late Baroque style church was built in 1785. Interior values of the church include an altar painting by Carl Antropoff, painted in 1871 and consisting of two parts: The Entombment of Jesus and Jesus reveals himself to Mary Magdalene.
Founded: 1785 | Location: Räpina, Estonia

St. Catherine's Church

St. Catherine’s Church was built for the Pärnu garrison in 1768 to replace the wooden church erected in 1752. It was named after Empress Catherine II, who travelled through Pärnu in 1764. As designed by architect P. Jegorov, St. Catherine’s Church is the one of the richest and most stylish examples of a baroque style in Estonia.
Founded: 1768 | Location: Pärnu, Estonia

Sagadi Manor

Sagadi Manor had owned by the von Fock family from the year 1687 to 1922. The current main main building was completed in 1753 and enlarged in 1793. It is one of the rare Rococo-style buildings in Estonia. The manor house, annexes and the surrounding park have been restored. Today Sagadi hosts a manor museum (the interior has been also carefully restored and refurnished), forestry museum, park and hotel.
Founded: 1753 | Location: Vihula, Estonia

Angel's Bridge

The Angel’s Bridge, located on Toome hill, was built in the 19th century and spans Lossi Street. The writing on the bridge, “otium reficit vires“ (rest restores strength), invites one to use Toome hill as a place of rejuvenation. The bridge, designed by J.W. Krause, was built in 1814-1816 and replaced an earlier temporary bridge. The bridge was thoroughly renovated in 1913, at which time a bust-portrait ...
Founded: 1814-1816 | Location: Tartu, Estonia

Saue Manor

The beautiful Saue Manor complex is one of the best examples of Estonian early classicistic architecture. The first known owner of Saue Manor was Remmert von Scharenberg from Westfaal, who received right of investiture from queen Margaret of Denmark. Before moving to Saue the would-be manor owner was the bailiff of Narva in 1528 - 1532, and hold a position in Tallinn commandery in the years 1534 - 1549. Apart from his pro ...
Founded: 1792 | Location: Saue, Estonia

Räpina Manor

The Räpina (a.k.a Sillapää) manor, established in 1582, has belonged to the Oxenstjerns, the von Wrangells, the von Löwenwoldes, the von Richters and the von Sivers. The Classicist main building, established in the 1830s, is still there but has been rebuilt a little bit in the 20th century. Today, the museum is located on the manor grounds. The mill, established in the first half or in the middle of th ...
Founded: 1836-1847 | Location: Räpina, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.