Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Estonian Travels - Ungru Manor

Right outside of the Kiltsi Airbase, just a short jaunt from Haapsalu, is the crumbling remains of an opulent manor with a strange history - Ungru Manor. (Lindenhof)

The manor land was gifted from a Swedish king to a German aristocrat in 1629, and it remained a German vacation home until the modern era. The early buildings, which are now gone, were considered unremarkable. However, the garden was said to be the most beautiful in Estonia. Presumably any vestige of said garden was destroyed with the construction of the airbase.

The curious story of this house begins in the late 18th century. The son of the Count Sternberg, Edwald Ungern-Sternberg, inherited the land. He had been to the famous castle at Meersberg, and fallen in love with the daughter there. She loved her home and did not wish to leave, so he promised to build a replica for her at Ungru.

Construction began in 1893 and continued for a few years. When it was nearly complete word arrived from Germany that the young lady had died. Finishing work on the interior continued for years, then in 1908 the Count died on a trip to St. Petersburg. He was brought back to the Manor and spent a single night in the house, as a corpse.

The Manor was more or less abandoned. It was looted in both World Wars, more heavily in the first, and then by the Soviet occupation. In fact, the local folk began systematically dismantling it for building materials after all the valuables had been pulled out.

 A local family, now the owner of the land, has been looking after it. THey are attempting to preserve it for historic and tourism value, and prevent further damage.
 The exquisitely detailed walls were hauntingly empty, memories of the opulence that they must have held.

 Nature had pretty well taken back the site. The floorboards were long gone and plants carpeted the rooms and halls. If there had been a cellar level it was long since filled in.
 Folk has left graffiti and etched marks in the stone. A large percentage of the marks were Cyrillic, and not all of them old enough to be Soviet era. There is still a difficult relationship between Estonians and Russian transplants.
 I have never been to the castle in Meersburg, but Mr. Crafty assures me that it is much larger! There are, however, many architectural elements that are copied from the castle.
 From here we turned back towards Tallinn, but this would not be the last set of ruins we explored that day!
Be sure to check out all of our Travels in Estonia with the keyword list below!

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