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Keila-Joa Manor

Location: N59° 23` 51.0", E24° 18` 8.99" | Website: schlossfall.com/

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1.5 km before reaching the sea, there is a powerful 6-metre waterfall in the Keila River. The estate called Meremõisa (Sea manor) was established on the high embankment of the waterfall already in the 16th century, but the present manor complex called Schloss Fall was built in 1830's in neo-gothic style according to the designs of Hans von Stackenschneider who was a famous architect from St. Petersburg. The estate was then owned by Alexander von Benkendorff. Tsar Nikolaus I and his wife were also present when the consecration ceremony of the palace took place. It is an interesting fact that the anthem of the Russian empire 'God Save the Tsar!' was first performed for Tsar Nikolaus I by its composer Aleksei Lvov at Keila Joa.  

Alexander von Benkendorff was a childhood friend of Tsar Nikolaus I, his bodyguard and the head of the Secret Police. He was a big nature lover. He borrowed one million golden roubles from the tsar to establish a manor house as a summer cottage and design an exceptionally beautiful park around the building.

The local legend tells that when the tsar visited Keila- Joa, he didn't like, that he couldn't see the sea from the balcony. Next morning, when the Royal Highness woke up, the wide ride had been cut into the forest and he could see the sea from his bedroom window.

In 1856 the manor went to the hands of the Volkonskis family, which included many outstanding members of the Russian Government and military figures. The last owner of the Schloss Fall was prince Grigory Volkonski.

During the 1917 Revolution in February, the castle was occupied by the 27th regiment of Kamenski. Local people have described how the soldiers started to devastate the castle and its surroundings. They broke windows and doors, stole china and crystal. Furniture was destroyed and its leather was used to make small purses for tobacco. Everything valuable was thrown into the carriages and taken to Tallinn where they sold it. They used the books from library to heat the kitchen all year long. Nothing was left of the interior of the castle. Soldiers' horses ate the bushes and flowers in the park and flowerbeds. The bottom of the sculpture of Canova Venus was painted black by tar and the soldiers used it as a target in shooting practice. The broken parts of the figure were thrown into the river, but loyal servants picked them secretly up and hid into the cellar. The head of Venus was found decorating the flowerbed of one local peasant years after that.

In 1920, the manor was nationalized and given to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During World War II Soviet soldiers used it, then there was a German Army school for scouts, and then it belonged to the Soviet Army again. The National Heritage Foundation which is managed by Andrei Dvorjaninov acquired the mansion in 2010. In five years it was restored and now the doors of Schloss Fall are open to visitors offering historical tours and classical chamber music concerts, hosting workshops, conferences, weddings and birthdays.

See also: http://www.schlossfall.com/