Alatskivi Manor (or mõis
in Estonian) is classified as a castle. It lies in Kodavere Parish in
Tartu County, in the south-east of Estonia near the shores of Lake
Peipsi, which separates Estonia from Russia. It was first mentioned
in historical records in 1601, when an earlier building existed on
the site. The building was presented by King Gustav II Adolph of
Sweden to his secretary, Johan Adler Salvius (or Salviusele) in
1628, and was passed on to Hans Dettermann Cronmann in 1642.
The manor was purchased by Otto Heinrich von
Stackelberg in 1753 The von Stackelbergs served the Russian Empire -
master of the Baltic States since their capture in 1710 - in
positions of authority. In 1870 the manor was part of a dowry which
was presented to the Swedish family of von Nolcken who,
despite the Russian possession of the Baltics, were still part of
the ruling elite in Estonia. The von Nolckens had served in various
positions of authority over the years, including that of Swedish
ambassador to Britain.
The current imposing articulated castle
was built in 1880-1885 in the English Neo-Gothic style by Arved
Georg von Nolcken (1845-1909). He had been on a trip to Scotland
where he had become fascinated with the architecture there,
especially with that of Queen Victoria's beloved Balmoral Castle.
When he returned to Estonia, he made sure that the main design
elements in his new castle mimicked those of Balmoral, drawing up
the design himself. The single octahedral tower shown here stands on
the south-eastern corner.
Von Nolcken was an enthusiastic amateur
architect, and his castle is slightly odd in composition. The
western wing is a single-storey construction, while its opposite
half has two storeys. Aside from the single octahedral tower, all
other towers are rounded with sharp spires atop them. The large
central section possesses a hallway or vestibule which reaches to
the height of the ceiling, two storeys up, something that is a very
English style of building.
The stables shown here were rebuilt in the
nineties. They form part of a spacious park which descends as
terraces behind the castle building. Much of it has been preserved,
including the stylish red brick gate. Along with all the other
manors and castles in Estonia, Alatskivi Manor was nationalised upon
the country's successful attainment of full independence in 1919.
Since then it has been used as a school house, a border guard
station (for the Lake Peipsi border), and a state farm centre.
As well as building the new castle for his bride,
Josephine Caroline Elise von Loewenstern, of Kuigatsi Manor in Valga
County, von Nolcken also rebuilt Alatskivi church in 1866. Now his
castle is in the ownership of the local rural government authority. In 2009
it underwent more renovation and refurbishment work, part of a
rolling programme which had already greatly improved its appearance
in preparation for its opening as a museum for the Estonian poet
All photos on this page contributed by Aljona Kozlova.