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Ungru Manor: the gutted remains of this Estonian mansion are a monument to a tragic love.

3 min read

We are in Estonia.
Despite it’s hard to see in its current, dilapidated condition, at one point in its history Ungru Manor was the finest neo-baroque mansion in all of country.
However, after it was stripped of materials to help build a nearby runway it is is simply a decaying husk, surrounded by its own ruins and a sad love story that never happened.

Created as a near-perfect copy of renaissance style Merseburg Castle in Halle, Germany, the manor that wee can see today was built in the 1890s on the site of another manor that had been there since the 1500s, more precisely since 1523.
It was in 1629 that Swedish king Gustav II Adolf gave the manor to influential Baltic-German noble Otto von Ungern-Sternberg as a gift and, in 1830, Magnus de la Gardie, a Swedish statesman and military man, bought it.
After his death, Evald Ungern-Sternberg bought the manor.
As story goes, his son, count Ewald Adam Gustav Paul Constantin von Ungern-Sternberg had visited Merseburg in the beginning of the last decade of the 19th century, where he fell in love with the daughter of the castle’s owner. He proposed to her, but the princess was so fond of her father’s castle that she claimed that she was going to stay there forever.
After that the count in love had promised to build exactly the same castle and, having received a promise from the lady to marry him as soon as the castle is ready, the man hurried back to Estonia, where in 1893 the construction begun.
In a couple of years the frame of the house, its 11 gables and the roof were ready, while interior works took some longer time. They were almost completed when word came that the princess had died.
The count himself fell ill in 1908 during a trip to St.Petersburg where he died as well not long after. According to his wish he was brought back to Haapsalu by train and then carried into the manor, where he spent, though already dead, his only night. Later he was buried in Hiiumaa, to his family’s burial plase in Korgessaare.

Thus the house was left unfinished and without an owner.
The tragic monument sat empty and it started to dilapidate due to pillages already during World War I.
During Soviet times, an airfield for fighter jets was built nearby. In order to find some hidden treasures and get building materials, the local people and the military destroyed this magnificent building step by step. Today, the airfield is abandoned too.
Luckily, what remains of the estate is now protected from further destruction, so the site is not completely lost to history.
Its remains are visible from a nearby highway and interested explorers can still visit them…

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