Though over 1,000 manor houses existed in Estonia at one time, many have fallen into ruin. However, many of those left standing are under protection and are preserved in their historic state. Additionally, websites and books document manor houses in photos and provide information and maps about manor houses throughout Estonia, as well as their history, purpose, and attractions for visitors.
History of Estonian Manor HousesFeudalism necessitated the building of the first manor houses. Later, knight manors, one of the main types of manors, were built to house owners with certain responsibilities and who participated in local government activities. As the power of the nobility increased, so did the construction of manor houses. Most manor houses standing today were built from the latter half of the 18th century right up until WWI.
Manor TypesThough knight manors were the main type of manors, other types of manor houses were built in Estonia. For example, church manors were operated by pastors and town manors were used for city-level governments. Manor houses were often a part of a larger estate and were sometimes flanked by gardens or parks. Outbuildings were also a part of the manor grounds to facilitate the smooth running of the estate, storage, the housing of animals, and other functions.
Manor houses have also been built in a wide range of architectural styles, including Baroque, Classical, and Art Nouveau.
Why Visit Estonian Manor HousesEstonian manor houses are remarkable for their beauty and variety. Their main buildings were residences of wealthy or important individuals or families and reflect the lifestyle of those people. The manor complexes were also places where agriculture was practiced and goods were produced, and remnants of these uses teach about historic farming or production techniques. When manors were taken away from landowners, they served other purposes as schools or buildings for the public, and these uses add an additional element to the Estonian manor house story.
Many manor houses preserve the splendor of the past by welcoming travelers for visits or longer stays. Some present a reason to spend a day in the countryside strolling through gardens, parks, and rooms preserved in historic styles; dine at a unique restaurant; or spend a romantic holiday away from the city.
How to See Estonian Manor HousesIf you are interested in seeing a variety of manor houses during your visit to Estonia, a tour may be the most practical option. Estonian manor tours often focus on a particular region of Estonia and take participants to several manor houses during the tour. Learn about the functions of a manor house, the people who lived there and worked on the grounds, the way the manor fit into the larger economic and political system of the area, the interior decorations and architectural details of the houses, and legends about ghosts that still walk the halls of these grand residences.
Some manor houses have been converted into hotels and offer luxury amenities in romantic settings. These hotels are often close to other attractions and provide leisure and recreational activities on the manor grounds.
If you don’t want to take a tour or spend the night in a manor house, you can take advantage of restaurants established in manor houses. These establishments use the unique surroundings of the manor houses to complement the dining experience.