Tucked in a quiet neighborhood in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, lies the former summer residence of Russian Tsars. Brightly colored Kadriorg Palace was initially constructed by Tsar Peter the Great of Russia in 1718 to honor his wife, Catherine I of Russia.
The history of Kadriorg Palace spans a great number of years and has been used for more than just a summer residence. Most recently, it has been converted to an art museum, the only museum in Estonia dedicated to early
European and early Russian art.
Currently on display is an exhibition entitled “From Memling to Rubens: The Golden Age of Flanders”. This display features a plethora of paintings, sculptures and objects dating back from the 15th to 17th centuries. Some
of the oldest and most expensive objects include porcelain figures from the famed porcelain factories.
It might seem a bit dull to outsiders looking at figurines that you could find in your grandparents’ home, but there’s something to be said about learning the history of an object. The inspiration behind it, the process of making it,
the precision and care these artisans took to perfect their craft. There’s something romantic to be said about it all.
In addition, there is also a permanent exhibition showcasing a broader range of artwork from Dutch, Italian, German and Russian artists spanning from the 16th to 20th centuries. The museum spans approximately three floors,
each with something new and exciting to see. One of the rooms used to be the residence’s library.
This gorgeously well-preserved room is fully decked out in wood panels detailing Tallinn’s historic Old Town. Throughout the palace, visitors can find descriptions of what each room used to be before it turned into an
exhibition room. The Green Room, as another example, used to be Tsar Nicholas I’s office. How’s that for literally stepping back in time?
However, the most spectacular room in Kadriorg Palace is the main hall. Nicknamed the ‘Baroque Pearl of the North’, the grandeur and scale of the room is enough to leave you breathless. Not only does it exemplify baroque
architecture in Estonia, but also is the best example in all Northern Europe.
You can find yourself spending the majority of your time studying the cartouches of Peter the Great and Catherine I or perhaps looking at all the Russian-Byzantine symbols that hold great meaning. Don’t forget to look up. The ceiling is dominated by an oval mural depicting the story of Diana and Actaeon from Ovid’s Metamorphosis.
Outside the palace lie the palace grounds consisting of upper and lower gardens. While the temperatures are dropping, the splendor of the grounds aren’t affected. Kadriorg Park is open to the public and you can find people
on walks or hanging out on the park benches.
The grounds also still have historical buildings such as the palace kitchens which have also been renovated into smaller, private art museums. Packed with rich history and a stateroom that will make you feel like royalty, Kadriorg Palace is a must see when visiting Estonia.
BY FAITH MACWANA
Image Courtesy of Faith Macwana