The history of the MonRepos Park
The family of the Barons von Nikolai
The MonRepos Park buildings

The history of the MonRepos Park

Landscape in the MonRepos Park Landscape in the MonRepos Park Coast of the Zashchitnaya (Defence)Bay  Landscape in the MonRepos Park Landscape in the MonRepos Park

According to local legends, it is on the site of the MonRepos Park that the Karelian settlement preceding the town of Vyborg was situated. In the 16th century, during the times of the Swedish rule, a cattle yard Lill-Ladugard, belonging to the farmland of the Vyborg Castle, was arranged here, on Slotsholmen (now Tverdysh) island, and in the 17th-early 18th centuries plots were rented out to well-to-do Vyborg citizens and officials of the Swedish administration.

After Vyborg had been incorporated to the Russian Empire, the neighbourhood was managed by the Castle's commandants, Petr Stupishin being the last of them. In 1770 Stupishin arranged his country estate here and laid out a park which he called Charlottendol. Following his instructions, the fertile land was brought here, land-improvement carried out, a wooden house and greenhouses were built and fruit and broad-leaved trees planted.

The Vyborg governor Prince Friedrich Wilhelm Karl of Wurtemberg - a brother of Grand Duchess Maria Fiodorovna, the wife of future Emperor Paul I, was the next owner of the estate. It was he that renamed the place MonRepos.

The park and estate became Europe-famed thanks to the Barons von Nikolai who owned the estate for almost two centuries and put enormous effort into its reconstruction. The park flourishing peaked in the early 19th century when Romantic style was prevailing in European and Russian cultures.
The landscape composition of the park was developed according to the aesthetic concept of Ludwig Heinrich von Nikolai - a writer and connoisseur of art. His only son Paul has continued to realize his father's ideas. Their descendants did not make considerable changes in the MonRepos ensemble but diligently looked after the park and estate.

Fortunately, the park did not suffer a lot in the course of the two wars of the 20th century - Winter War and World War II. In the 40-ies the park was renamed the Park of Culture and Rest after M.Kalinin. A sanatorium of the Military Academy of Communication and a kindergarten were housed in the estate; the Detached Library became a block of flats.

 

The family of the Barons von Nikolai
Portrait of L.Nikolai «The Gothic Gates» at the entry to the parkManor house Portrait of A.Nikolai

Ludwig Heinrich von Nikolai (Andrei L'vovich after adopting Orthodoxy) (1737-1820) was born is Strasbourg. He was invited to Russia to be a teacher for future Emperor Paul I and accomplished his carrier as the President of Petersburg Academy of Sciences. An outstanding figure of the Age of Enlightenment and a poet, being acquainted with Voltaire, Diderot and Dalambert, he was one of the most educated people of his time. The romantic park MonRepos happened to become his best creation. His poem "The MonRepos estate in Finland" depicting this scenery country - "the last shelter of the heart" - illustrated with beautiful lithographs by Luis-Julien Jacquotte was published in 1804.

The estate manor rebuilt to a design by J.A.Martinelli in the late 18th-early 19th centuries has survived to our days. It is the only wooden building in Classical style preserved in Leningrad region. The twin hall in the center of the house was painted by J.Mettenleiter and the school of Gonzago.

Entry to the park is decorated with "The Gothic Gates" baring the arms of the family of the Barons von Nikolai. The gates had been erected in the 1830-ies after granting a status of a not-for-sale reserve estate to the MonRepos and restored in 1992.

Paul Nikolai who initiated the gates, also completed the park ensemble with the obelisk to his wife's brothers, Charles and Auguste de Broliye, who died in the battles with Napoleon and a chapel shaped as a Romance tower on Ludwigstein necropolis-island - the family cemetery of the Nikolais.

 

The MonRepos Park buildings
«Ludvigstein » ChapelObelisk in the memory of  brothers de Broliye«Temple of Neptune» pavilionChinese BridgeLandscape in the MonRepos Park

When walking through the park, you can see extraordinary architectural and natural landmarks.

One of the nooks of the park was arranged in Oriental style. Several arch Chinese bridges across the canal separating Marienturm hill and the island of Kolonna (Column) added to the charm of the place. Wooden sluices were arranged and valuable species of fish were bred here. One of the bridges was restored in 1998 in cooperation with "Pro Monrepo" Association (Finland).

The park opens magnificent views of rock landscapes, including that facing the waters of the Suomenvedenpohja bay being a part of the Vuoksa water way in the middle ages.

The exceptional look of the primary rocks of the Vyborg granites named Rappakivi add to the beauty of the landscape park.

The spring "Narcissus" known among ancient local population as the sacred spring Silma (Eye) comes through the rock. The architectural design of the place was done by Auguste Montferrand well known for his masterpieces created in St.Petersburg, with St.Isaac's Cathedral and the Aleksandrovskaya (Alexander) Column in Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square being among them.

The "Temple of Neptune" pavilion was erected in 1806 on a cape of the park to a design by architect J.A.Martinelli - the author of the estate manor. The temple followed the canons of antique architecture and was originally dedicated to Pietas- the God embodying obedience and love to the elders. A sculpture of a woman with a baby was placed in the pavilion. The straight outline of the wooden structure and monumental columns were a contrast to the restless open sea behind the temple. In the course of times the temple became devoted to another deity and a statue of Neptune replaced the original one. The pavilion disappeared after June 1944 and was recreated in 1999 in cooperation with "Pro Monrepo" Association (Finland).

The so called "End of the World"- cliffs in remote corner of the park - crowns the modified landscape merging into the wild shore.