The 19th Century – Kadriorg’s New Heyday

A new chapter in the history of Kadriorg began in the year 1827. As in earlier days, changes were linked to the arrival of the ruler. In that year, Emperor Nicholas I visited Tallinn for the first time, and was very disappointed by the fact that he had to stay at Toompea, not in the imperial palace built by Peter I, as Kadriorg Palace was in such bad condition that staying there overnight was impossible. After the visit, the emperor gave orders to transfer the palace, which Paul I had given to the civilian governor of Estonia, back under the administration of the Ministry of the Tsar’s Court, to immediately start renovation work on the building and park, and to provide the palace and its annexes with everything necessary. The reconstruction of 1827–1831 was in accordance with the changes which had taken place in the lifestyle of the imperial family and the court. Family relations and feelings, and a natural way of life were considered more important than exterior pomposity. To enjoy the healthy sea air more comfortably, an awning with curtains was placed on the balcony, the festive stairs leading to the Flower Garden were replaced by a semicircular enclosed veranda, and a new staircase was added to the seaside wing. All rooms were fitted with fancy furniture, bathrooms were built, lamps, Persian rugs and works of art were brought to Tallinn, and special porcelain sets and glazed earthenware were ordered from the Kiev-Mezhigorski factory.

The use of rooms was also altered. The most respectable rooms on the main floor in the seaside wing were the apartment of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna; above her, on the third floor, the living rooms of the emperor and the crown prince were located; the bedrooms and living rooms of the emperor’s daughters covered both floors of the right wing. The 18th-century ceremonial enfilade of rooms became the summer house of a large family.

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In the 19th century, visits of high society to Tallinn were connected with more than politics. People came here to enjoy the healthy sea water and air, or stopped over on their way to western Europe, which was often the destination of Friederike Louise and her children. Friederike was the daughter of the Prussian King Frederick William III and, as Empress of Russia, had taken the name Alexandra Feodorovna. An illuminated path leading to the beach, a pier and a bathing house were built for them. To house visitors and numerous courtiers, the old keeper’s house and pleasure house were rebuilt, an attic was added to the kitchen house, and pavillions with little columns were erected in the lower garden.

The imperial family was followed to Tallinn and Kadriorg by most of St. Petersburg’s high society and intelligentsia. Kadriorg became a modern resort for spending summers and improving one’s health. A district of lovely turreted wooden villas was erected around Kadriorg Park. The district was full of bathing salons, water treatment establishments, hotels, pensions and restaurants. Towards the end of the century, the area became a bit less glorious, as the imperial visits became rarer, particularly after the end of the Crimean War and the building of a railway line to the Crimea, which decreased the St. Petersburg aristocrats’ interest in the resort in Reval. Kadriorg became a living area and summer resort for the wealthy Estonian bourgeoisie.