Kolga manor was founded in 1230 by the Cistercian monastery, located on the Swedish island of Gotland. In 1581 Sweden’s King Johan III presented Kolga to his army commander, Pontus de la Gardie. Through marriage, the manor changed hands from this well-known Swedish family to the Stenbocks who were the owners until the land reforms of 1920. In 1993 the grandiose mansion was returned to the Stenbocks. The building’s history has had many phases: the stone building, built in de la Gardie’s time, has remained intact among the other buildings. Between 1765 and 1768 Count Karl Magnus Stenbock had a late-Baroque central section with a high roof built.
The Stenbock family is one of the most famous Swedish families. Their forefather, Field Marshal Magnus von Stenbock, was one of the most influential people in Sweden alongside King Karl XII. Generally known as humane masters, his grandson Carl Magnus von Stenbock became notorious for permitting 1200 farmers from his manor to be deported to Ukraine in the 18th century. Among all the family members bearing military titles, there were also those with a different destiny, such as Eric von Stenbock, bohemian poet and a friend of Oscar Wilde, who died at a young age in England. Today the manor is in the hands of Finnish relatives of the Stenbock family.
Kolga was one of the largest manors in Estonia. With its 50000 hectares of land and many other smaller manors nearby, such as Kiiu and Kõnnu, all in all it was almost the size of some smaller German duchies. Even if most of the buildings are in ruins, the manor still leaves a powerful impression. Next to the main house, in the former stable, is a cosy hotel (with 20 double rooms) and conference rooms are located in the manager's house. The main building houses the village shop and a rural restaurant.
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.