Culture and art

Russian roots of Schloss Fall (Keila-Joa Castle)

Усадьба Волконских и Бенкендорфов - замок Фалль

In only 27 km from Tallinn there is a small village Keyla-Yoa. It is remarkable, first of all, with Keila river and its magnificent falls. However, not only the natural beauty attracts tourists there. There is a castle Fall over the river, which has been in desolation till the recent time. In 2010 the works on its restoration began, and now it is finally open for visit.

In 1827, Count Benckendorff, a friend of Nicholas I, bought that estate for 65,000 rubles in silver. To create an «ancestral estate» from the acquired property, the Count charged to the architect A. I. Shtakenshneyder to improve the building which was there, using the Peterhof Cottage as a model. The octagonal crenellated tower, over which flew a flag with the emblem of Benckendorff – three red roses on a blue field with gold and the motto «Perseverance», became an interesting decoration of the castle, constructed in the Gothic style. But the inside decoration wasn’t inferior to outside one. In a lobby the Count Benckendorff had a huge jasper vase which was initially stored in the Winter Palace. It was given as a gift to the Count by the Emperor Nicholas I.

Besides a gift from the Emperor the estate could impress with one more relic – the small cup presented by the queen Marie Antoinette A.Kh. Benckendorff ‘s mother. Also the Empress presented to the Benckendorff family a bureau with the monogram in which the family archive was stored subsequently. However, not only the gifts were among the manor relics. Count Alexander Khristoforovich used the part of the Emperor’s Alexander I coffin as a paperweight. After the castle was inherited by the Count’s daughter, Maria Aleksandrovna Volkonskaya, who was married to Grigory Petrovich Volkonsky, the estate carried over the Volkonsky Counts.

Today everyone can visit the castle and listen to the excursions narrating about Benckendorff and Volkonsky families. Also on an exposition in a museum part of the castle there are anthems of the different countries. This is due to the fact that, according to legend, in the castle was first performed the song “God Save the Tsar!”, which later became the anthem of the Russian Empire. Also in the castle are held various concerts and exhibitions.

Sources: Nasledia, Gobaltia