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 1785. Before 1850, the Ilumäe chapel, located four kilometres away, corn-garner, distillery with a high chimney, horse barn, carriage house and shelter were built.

Next to the pond a pillared rotunda and bathing house were constructed (which at the moment is a café). The Pahlen family was highly respected by the nobility and farmers alike. Carl Magnus von der Pahlen was a militarist and took part in the wars against Napoleon. Between 1830 and 1845 he was the Governor General of Estonia, Liivimaa and Kuramaa. On a more local level, he oversaw the construction of Painet farmhouses with chimneys, like those in Palmse, seen in only a few places in Estonia.

Today, Palmse is one of the manors which receives the highest number of visitors. There is a museum in the mansion and the Lahemaa National Park’s visitors centre is located in the barn. The former distillery was converted into a hotel in 1995. A walk in the park within the beautiful surroundings is good for the body and soul.

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Address

Palmse küla, Vihula, Estonia
See all sites in Vihula

Details

Founded: 1782-1785
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Estonia
Historical period: Part of the Russian Empire (Estonia)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jan Lawson (9 months ago)
Rustic place to stay with small rooms in nice gardens. Beware the biting insects even with windows closed
Thomas Ploner (9 months ago)
Beautiful barock castle (with stables, pavilions etc etc) surrounded by gardens and forrest in the Lahemaa national park. Nice indoors and great short hiking paths nearby. I honestly liked this one way more than the bigger ones in the baltic states - it's more calm and there's nature nearby. I would recommend you to go to the "breast Pavillon" as it is a stunning lookout point over the woods and lakes. The next must have seen part is the Smith in the castle gardens. He's a very kind man showing you his astonishing collection of arms from different time periods (no separate entrance fee, but a small tip is adequate). Parking lot nearby, free of charge.
Anton Shevyrin (9 months ago)
Beatiful manor. Quite expensive tickets, but area is large.
Olavi Laitala (12 months ago)
Very impressive show of old days glory. Beautiful interior, nice park.
Martin Dziedzic (12 months ago)
Beautiful palace and magnificent garden. Great for families. Very quiet and relaxing place.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.