Manor Park


Plamse manor’s park is one of the most outstanding parks in Estonia.

The regulated park near the manor house has been restored. Parterres on the two sides of the manor house were rebuilt in 2009. A high fence with its stone foundation and stone pillars surrounds the manor’s front yard; the gates are decorated with granite obelisks (1839). The lawn in front of the manor house is bordered with trees and encircled by a roundabout; the back of the manor house overlooks a park with a system of ponds, which becomes a natural forest park further away. The areas between buildings are linked with low limestone walls with arched gates. There are classicistic pavilions, summer cottages, a pier, and a row of pruned lime trees by the limestone-reinforced bank of the pond. There are also small pavilions over springs in the park. The orchards are surrounded by limestone walls; and the greenhouses and the orangery have been renovated. In the forest park, over ten kilometres of paths of the 19th century network of roads are still remaining; the white wooden bridges (Smith’s Bridge (Sepasild), Greta Bridge (Suursild), and Stoneoak Bridge (Kivitamme sild)) have been restored; and the landscape offers beautiful views on the mirror-like surfaces of the ponds. The Brest pavilion (built in ca. 1870–1871) – a classicistic pavilion with a balustrade and columns – stands on the high bank of the Oruveski Lake. As the forest park draws away from the manor house, it increasingly becomes more and more natural forest.
By the open air stage near the pond, there is a memorial stone for the agrarian reform’s 10th anniversary (1933).

There is a group of rapakivi granite boulders – thirteen larger and a number of smaller ones – that were taken under protection already in 1937. According to folk tradition, the Nunnery Stones are devils who turned into stone while waiting for the nuns to come for a rendezvous.


Palmse park was first created as a French formal garden or baroque garden. The work on the outstanding garden in between the previously built ponds and manor house started in 1738. The park had terraces, parterres or even lawns decorated with flower patterns, labyrinths made of pruned hedges, groups of pruned trees and bushes, and trees bordering different elements of the park. The regular orchard was in a separate location. An extensive reshaping of the park took place in in between 1818 and 1840 when the regulated park was changed into a free-form park and a large English style landscape park or deer park was added. The topography of the natural forest – river valleys, the Oruveski Reservoir along with islands – was incorporated into the park. Roads, rapids, cascades, and bridges were constructed, numerous pavilions – some looking like ancient temples, others like wooden huts – were built, and new landscape vistas were cleared. By the road leading to Brest pavilion, there was a grotto opening towards the reservoir. In the second half of the 19th century, the northern sandy area with its gulches was made into forest park. Palmse park was designed by von Pahlens themselves. In the end of the 19th century, M. Weidemann was the manor’s gardener, but he was also helped by three garden boys. For the summer period, six maids from near Lake Peipus were hired to maintain the long meandering gravel paths. The manor’s avenues were planted in the 18th century. The alleys that branch off crosswise lead towards Viitna and Ilumäe, and the ones on the manor house’s central axis lead towards the landscape. The mixed alleys consist of lime trees, oaks, maples, and ashes. In 1840, common limes were planted where the alleys fork. In the second half of the 19th century, a maple-elm alley – the longest (6 km) in Estonia – was built by the Palmse-Ilumäe road, and a maple alley was built from the fork till the chapel yard. In 2009, historical documents were consulted to restore the manorside two-terraced park area, complete with parterres and hedges.

The park has average biodiversity, and has 61 taxa of trees and bushes, out of which 38 are alien (2005). Deciduous trees – lime trees, maples, ashes, oaks, and horse-chestnuts – are prevalent near the buildings. Ancient huge lime trees and oaks over 27 m high grow by the manor house. The common limes growing by the border of the front yard are noteworthy, for they are 18 m high and their maximum circumference is 444 cm. New large-leaved lime trees were planted in the back yard. The forest park is dominated by old pines and firs, but also maples, limes, aspens, ashes, birches, and elms. There are only a few alien species, out of which the Swiss pine and the European larch. Grey alders and common alders grow by waterbodies. Lilacs, ninebarks, false spiraeas, guelder roses, fly honeysuckles, Tartarian honeysuckles, common snowberries, red elderberries, Siberian peashrubs, etc. The alley mainly consists of maples, but ashes and oaks have also been used. Common limes (max circumference of 455 cm) and small-leaved limes are the thickest trees. Of fruit bearing trees, old varieties of apples and pears, but also purple crab apples have been planted

The following protected species can be found in the park: lichens –Nephroma parile, Lobaria pulmonaria, Sclerophora pallida, Arthonia byssacea, and Evernia divaricata;liverworts: Neckera pennata; plants – Diphasiastrum complanatum, Lycopodium clavatum, Dactylorhiza maculata, Pulsatilla pratensis, Dianthus arenarius; elavad bats – Pipistrellus nathusii, Eptesicus nilssonii, Myotis daubentonii, Myotis dasycneme, Myotis brandtii, Myotis nattereri, Nyctalus noctula, Plecotus auritus; kahepaikne amphibians – Rana temporaria; and birds – Accipiter gentilis, Tetrao urogallus, Tetrastes bonasia, Dryocopus martius, Picoides tridactylus, Dendrocopos leucotos, and Dendrocopos minor. The following plants have naturalized in Palmse park: Naturaliseerunud on common butterbur (Petasites hybridus), common daisy (Bellis perennis), and common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis).