Palaces, manors and town halls in Estonia

Tallinn Town Hall

Tallinn Town Hall, located in the main square, is the only surviving Gothic town hall in Northern Europe. The first recorded mention of the Town Hall dates from 1322. Its present form dates from 1402-1404, when the building was rebuilt. The spire was destroyed in an aerial bombing on March 9, 1944. It was rebuilt in 1950. The Town Hall is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites with the Tallinn's Old Town. The buil ...
Founded: 1322 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Great Guild Hall

Since the 14th century craftmen’s guilds were significant brotherhoods who drove interests of their members. The big guild of Tallinn was an union of wealthy merchants. Their base was the Great Guild Hall in downtown, opposite the church of Holy Spirit. The building itself was built in 1407-1410 and is a well-preserved sample of Medieval construction. Today the Great Guild Hall houses a museum presenting Estonia's hist ...
Founded: 1407-1410 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

House of the Brotherhood of Black Heads

The House of Black Heads (Estonian Mustpeade maja) is a Renaissance-style building in Tallinn old town. The building's name is derived from its developers, the Brotherhood of Black Heads which was the guild of foreign unmarried merchants. The Brotherhood was founded sometime around 1399 and was active in Estonia and Latvia. A 14th-century residential building probably occupied this site when the Black Heads bought ...
Founded: 1597 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Kadriorg Palace

Catherinethal ("Catherine's valley") is a Petrine Baroque palace of Catherine I of Russia in Tallinn. It was built after the Great Northern War to Nicola Michetti's designs by Gaetano Chiaveri and Mikhail Zemtsov. In the 20th century the Estonian version of the name, Kadriorg, gained currency and came to be applied to the surrounding district. After the successful siege of Reval in 1710 Peter the Great of Russia b ...
Founded: 1718 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Pärnu Town Hall

The Town Hall is actually a whole quarter. Its oldest building, the merchant's house, was built in 1797. In 1806 it served as an accommodation for the Russian Czar Alexander I during his visit to Pärnu. Legend has, that in 1819, on the command of the Czar, the merchant's house was turned into the house of the commandant of the town. Since 1839, the building was used as Town Hall. In 1911 it acquired an Art N ...
Founded: 1797 | Location: Pärnu, Estonia

The Knighthood Building

The Knighthood Building was built by von Dellingshausen at the end of the 18th Century and today, it accommodates the County Government of Saaremaa. At the beginning of the 19th Century, the house belonged to the Nobility of Saaremaa, then in 1912, to the Noblemen's club. The County Government of Saaremaa bought the house in 1920. The foundation of the building is symmetrical, with a high socle floor. The façade is propo ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Kuressaare, Estonia

Keila-Joa Manor

There has been a manor house on the site of Keila-Joa manor (Schloss Fall) since the 17th century. The present manor house was built in 1831-1833 and designed by St. Petersburg architect Andrei Stackenschneider. The manor represents one of the earliest examples of neo-Gothic architecture in Estonia. It was built for the family of count Alexander von Benckendorff (whose graves can be found in the p ...
Founded: 1831-1833 | Location: Keila-Joa, Estonia

Kuressaare Town Hall

Kuressaare town hall was built in 1654-1670. The initiator of town hall building was count M. G. De la Gardie. Town hall is simple and dour but appears to be grand representative of so called northern baroque the decoration of which is hewed portal that dates 1670. Reference: Visit Estonia
Founded: 1654-1670 | Location: Kuressaare, Estonia

Maarjamäe Palace

Maarjamäe or Orlov’s Palace was commissioned by Count Anatoli Orlov-Davydov from St. Petersburg. The historicist limestone summer residence on the seashore was designed by architect Robert Gödicke. In the 1930s the building housed a magnificent restaurant – the Riviera Palace. In 1937 the Estonian Air force Flying School obtained the building, the Soviet Army took over in 1940. The restored palace op ...
Founded: 1874 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Heimtali Manor

The Heimtali manor was established in the 16th century, but was rebuilt in a more impressive style during the time it belonged to Peter Reinhold von Sivers in the 1850s. The historic main building is now used as a school. The turreted cheese dairy (sometimes incorrectly thought to be a vodka distillery) was completed in 1858 and reminds one of a medieval stronghold. It was restored in the 1980s for holding different event ...
Founded: 1855 | Location: Pärsti, Estonia

Palmse Manor

Palmse is probably the most grandiose and well-known manor in Estonia. It was originally established by the Cistercian convent of Tallinn, but owned by von der Pahlen family over two centuries, from 1676 to 1922. The mansion is one of the few Swedish main houses and its building was started under the design stewardship of Jakob Stael von Holstein in 1679. The present form of the building stems from rebuilding in 1782 to ...
Founded: 1782-1785 | Location: Vihula, Estonia

Roosna-Alliku Manor

The Roosna-Alliku Manor was donated to von Rosen family in 1620 by Christina, Queen of Sweden. The coat of arms of family features a white rose, which has become the symbol of the manor. In 1721 it was acquired by von Stackelbergs. The present main building is one of the most impressive examples of early classical manor architecture in Estonia, completed by Otto Friedrich von Stackelberg in 1786. Worthiest of attention in ...
Founded: 1786 | Location: Roosna-Alliku, Estonia

Narva Town Hall

The town hall is one of the three buildings in Narva survived from World War II. The Baroque-style building was built by the order of Swedish king Charles XI. The project of the master George Teuffel from Lubeck formed the basis of the building, the construction of which started in 1688. After three years, at the latest in 1691, the building was finished when a gold-plated forged weathercock in the form of a crane was put ...
Founded: 1688-1691 | Location: Narva, Estonia

Sangaste Manor

The first mention of Sangaste Manor date back to the year 1522. The present main building is one of the most gorgeous manor houses in Estonia. The red-brick house, built between 1879-1883, represents the Gothic revival style with English features. It was designed by architect Otto Pius Hippius and the owner of the building throughout its existence as a private house was the scientist Count Magnus von Berg (1845-1938). Th ...
Founded: 1879-1883 | Location: Sangaste, Estonia

Padise Manor

Padise Manor is an 18th century historic mansion housing a boutique hotel and restaurant in the countryside of Estonia.  The manor house sits just 25 meters away from the extraordinary 14th century Padise monastery ruins. The history of the von Ramm family and this estate begins in 1622 when King Gustav Adolf II of Sweden granted the Padise monastery ruins and surrounding land to Thomas von Ramm as a gift. The manor ho ...
Founded: 1780 | Location: Padise, Estonia

Taagepera Manor

The history of Taagepera manor date back to the 16th century. It was owned between 1674-1796 by the Stackelberg family and the village of Taagepera is named after them. The present Art Nouveau-style manor house was built between 1907-1912 according the design of Otto Wildau. Today Taagepera manor houses a hotel-seminar centre. In addition to the main building of the Manor Complex worth seeing are also the gate building, ...
Founded: 1907-1912 | Location: Helme, Estonia

Suuremõisa Manor

The first record of Suuremõisa Manor date back to the year 1519. The present manor house was built by the countess Ebba Margaretha Stenbock in the middle of the 18th century. The countess is buried in the mausoleum next to Pühalepa Church. Several dramatic events took place at the manor at the turn of the 18th–19th century. Baron Otto Reinhold Ludwig von Ungern-Sternberg (1744-1811) was a nobleman of Baltic German or ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Hiiumaa, 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

Rakvere Manor

Teatrimägi hill is one of the oldest places in Rakvere – people have lived here for thousands of years. In the first half of the 16th century there was a Franciscan monastery here, but it was not until 1670 that the first, baroque manor house was built here. The park surrounding the manor was named the “People’s Park” when Estonia gained its independence. Today the original manor building (the ...
Founded: 1670 | Location: Rakvere, Estonia

Kernu Manor

Kernu estate was established in 1637. The current building owes its stately neoclassical appearance to a thorough renovation executed 1810-1813, possibly by the designs of renowned Helsinki architect Carl Ludvig Engel. The front façade is dominated by a richly decorated portico, while the side facing the park displays a 4-column half rotunda, unique in Estonian architecture. A care home has been ...
Founded: 1810-1813 | Location: Harjumaa, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.