Saturday, April 18, 2009

Manor tours

- At the beginning of the 20th century there were 1245 main manors in Estonia. There were also 108 parsonages (church manors) and around 600 manor dairy farms – altogether over two thousand different manors. Where were they? What were they like? What has happened to them? - that's what we want to find out! - -

I and my friend Kristi have been visiting manor houses in Estonia (in each little place) since 2007. We have driven the lentgh and breadth of Estonian different counties and seen wonderful houses, heard wonderful stories and enjoyed lovely quiet Estonian country side life.
Next tour is sheduled from May 15 to May 17, most probably to Järva and Lääne-Viru county.


Rapla county is the county of manors. It has them after every kilometer! And therefore, the distances are small and one can see a lot of manors in one day. We like to explore the manour houses also from inside if possible, or talk with the local people to find out some interesting facts of the history of the manor house, the family who lived there or anything other which is new to us. In Rapla county we saw 15 manors in the first day and 26 manors in the second day (but some of them were seen in a rush). We stayed overnight in Tammerinna, which turned out to be a sort of manor house in old times, too - the sister of the manour lady nearby lived there. Here are some highlights:

Photo: Raikküla manor was one of the most gorgeous Classicism manor when it was built. Unfortunately in 1960's a fire destroyed the building and hasn't been renovated since then. However, it has a new roof and hopefully, one day, the private owner will retore its beauty.
Photo: Nice pink Järlepa manor is built in Classicism style as well, but has been nicely renovated and is in private hands.
Photo: You won't believe - this photo is from a hospital and rehabilitation centre! Yes, Seli manor belongs to Defence Ministry and invites the old soldiers to "repair" their health.
Photo: Something not connected with manors, a photo close to Varbola stronghold (just passing it:)).
Photo: Päärdu manor was built in 1970. It used to house a primary school since 1993, but is in private hands since then (Swedish owners).
Photo: A different manor style - Alu manor - which is built in Neo Gothic style in 1862-1877. It belonged to Tiesenhausen family, but was changed to a primary school in 1923. Since 1999, it is managed by Defence Union who has kept the building in an excellent order.
Photo: A very sympatic small manor house of Atla, where ceramic workshops are held. It was renovated in the end of 1990's, but originally is from 18th century.
Photo: Lohu manor - built in 1780, but re-styled for Neo-Gothic style in 19th century.
Photo: My personal favourite from Rapla county - Hõreda manor. In almost-ruins right now, but possible to sneak in and imagine the splendour it once had. It belonged to Staal families - 3 brothers who all wanted to build a bigger and more magnificent palace than the siblings. Hõreda belonged to Gideon von Staal.
Photo: Tammerinna - our place to stay overnight is connected with manors, too - the sister of the manor lady of Lümandu was living there.
Photo: I and Kristi - tired of the long first day.
Photo: a cute little house among the Lümandu manor complex (which is in ruins).
Photo: A windmill on the way.
Photo: Summer idyl on the road.

Ida-Viru is a county which has beautiful nature with long coastline and many sights, but usually is not so popular among tourists like other places in Estonia. It has some wonderful beautifully restored manor houses which now work as hotels or conference centers, and also some small cosy country-side manors. In both days we saw 16 manor houses. We stayed in Narva - in the most eastern town in Estonia which has a border with Ivangorod - the town in Russia. Here are some highlights:
Photo: We started our trip close to home and the first manor was actually in Lääne-Viru county - Aaspere - a building of Classicism - which was once one of the largest manor buildings in Estonia. Until 1991, an orphanage worked there but nowadays is in private hands and not taken care so well anymore.
Photo: A very beautiful Kalvi manor, which used to be a vassal castle once, is now a Tudor style five-star hotel.
Photo: One of the best preserved Baroque manor house built in 1764-1767 which houses a school nowadays - Maidla manor.
Photo: Toila-Oru park, where a long time ago, a beautiful palace was situated which was a summer residence of our President Konstantin Päts. Unfortunately was bombed by Germans during the 2nd World War in 1944. No remains have left, but the park is still idyllic.
Photo: A Park around Rakvere manor, which is nowadays a theatre house. However, in this photo, you can see the vodka factory.
Photo: Being in Ida-Viru county, we couldn't resist visiting the Kuremäe Monastery again - a very interesting place! However, not connected with manors.
Photo: Rägavere manor, a early Classicism building in private hands.
Photo: As we stayed overnight in Narva - the eastern town in Estonia, we also did some sightseeing there. Back of us, there's the castle of Narva.
Photo: Narva Town Hall
Photo: Just some idyllic photo. If you look carefully, you see Ulvi manor house behind the trees.
Photo: Vasta manor built in Early Classicism, in the end of 18th century. A primary school works there nowadays.
Photo: Uhtna manor from 1815.

Viljandi county situates in the southern part of Estonia. We decided to see it because of the campaign Estonian tourism organization has organized in last years -"Forgotten manor houses", which has a few weekends during the summer when some of the manor houses are opened for public and excursions are made (those are mostly manors where school work). So we decided to benefit from this event and picked up the weekend when the most manors were opened in Viljandic county. But it also meant that we spent a lotmore time in one place than usually; and couldn't see as many manors as we had seen in previous tours. However, it was the most interesting tour since we got so many new information about the families of manour houses (they mostly belonged to rich Baltic-German people) and in many places a lot of history was told as well. We had two very long days and saw about 30 manour houses alltogether. Here are some highlights:
Photo:Kristi and the map of Viljandi county. The picture is taken in Karksi-Nuia - where we watched the motor cycle race where Kert participated, too.
Photo: The capital of Viljandi county is Viljandi. We stayed overnight there, and did some sightseeing in town, too. This photo is taken in front of the Viljandi castle ruins. Nowadays, concerts are held there.
Photo: Beautiful nature and a small support-building of Käru manor.
Photo: In front of each manor house, Kristi is reading the history of the manour from our smart fat book called "Estonian manors". This photo is taken in front of Uus-Suislepa manor house (from 1811).
Photo: I and Kristi in front of the flower garden of Olustvere manor house - one of the most beautifully restored manorhouse complexes in Estonia. It was a pity we couldn't go inside of it since we arrived there late at night.
Photo: Laupa manor, a school right now. The beautifully restored building is in Art Nouveau style and is built in 1911-1913. It belonged to von Taube families, one of the well-known families who owned the manor houses in Estonia.
Photo: Kristi inside of Kärstna manor house whichis a school right now,too. Some of the room sare nicely renovated.
Photo: The cheese factory of Heimtali manor, in Neo Gothic style, built in 1837.
Photo: In Heimtali manor (which is a school nowadays) we had a history lesson by a lady who has made extensive research about Heimtali manor and its people.
Photo: A nice cute Väikemõisa manor in heimat style, built in the start of 20th century. It is occupied by an orphanage nowadays.
Photo: Pärsti manor house, a Historicistic wooden house from 1871. It has a beautiful garden-park around it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

As the earth is refreshed
and the silver of winter
blossoms into spring
Wishing you all the happiness
Easter brings!

Have a wonderful Easter!
Karin, Erik, Kert

Monday, April 6, 2009

Weekend in Muhu island

Last weekend, we spent in Muhu. I had promised to my father to help him with some renovation work in our old farm house. It took the whole Saturday, but on Sunday, we could all enjoy the beautiful Spring weather and took long walks in the nature to find my favourite Spring flowers - hepaticas. We had success :) Since Muhu has milder climate than most of Estonia, then I don't think the hepaticas are blooming in other parts of our country, yet. But I'm having them on my kitchen table now! :)
Photo: Blue hepatica
Photo: Pink hepatica - my special favourite...
Photo: Many snowdrops were blooming in our garden
Photo: Many snowflakes were enjoying the sun, too.
Photo: And little snowroses...
Photo: Our old sauna, some old stuff + still some snow left.

Photo: My little summer cottage has gotten new cover and orange colour - which is the colour of Muhu.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Signs of Spring

Even when Spring is officially here since March 20, I haven't been able to post anything about Spring. The reason is very simple - no Spring had arrived to Estonia! We had loads of snow, we were doing winter sports and didn't see any signs of Spring. But today - on the first day of April, the Spring month - I was able to photograph the very first flower in my garden - a snowdrop! I've been watching it for a couple of days now, but only today morning, when the sun was raising, I was able to see this little flower's blossom coming out, too...
So, to all my friends -