Jäneda manor was founded as an estate before 1510. The estate has belonged to several different aristocratic families. The present building was built 1913-1915 in an eclectic Art Nouveau style with strong neo-Gothic influences. In 1922, the interiors were rebuilt after designs by architect Anton Lembit Soans. Estonian composer Urmas Sisask has furnished a planetarium at the top of the tower.
In the early 1900s the manor was owned by Countess, later Baroness, Moura (Maria Zakrevskaya Benckendorff) Budberg, who has been called the "Mata Hari of Russia" and who was close to Sir R. H. Bruce Lockhart, Russian writer Maxim Gorki and H.G. Wells.
In 1928, an agricultural school was founded in the main and adjoining buildings by Konstantin Päts, who would later become president of Estonia. In Soviet times, Arnold Rüütel, president of Estonia from 2001 to 2006, studied here and agriculture has remained his major interest. Its second most famous pupil was the writer Juhan Smuul. The school continues to this day and some of its students work in a hotel which has been opened on this site. The hotel and the surrounding buildings make a congenial backcloth for parties and works outings.
The museum in the main building covers the history of the estate between 1920 and 1940, with many documents fortunately being saved from then. It also covers the Soviet period of the agricultural college, with the appropriate array of red banners and portraits of Lenin and Stalin. As in so many institutes in Soviet times, the Stalin memorabilia were only hidden after 1956 and were never destroyed, though few can have imagined that they would later be brought out for ridicule rather than for devotion.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.