In the hands of celebrated artist and filmmaker, Mary Jordan, Kau Manor’s interiors have fittingly become as rich as its history. Following an extensive restoration, the Manor’s architectural magnificence has been restored and augmented with all of the modern luxuries befitting of a boutique hotel.
Beyond the carefully curated art, objects and antiques, the grounds will be home to Kau Art Center, which will display the work of world-renowned artists.
Otto von Kotzebue (1787-1846) was a celebrated Baltic German explorer in the Russian service. The son of August von Kotzebue, a famous playwright, Otto was born in Reval (now Tallinn, Estonia), and for much of his life lived in Kau Manor. Best known for leading the Romanzov expedition of 1815, during which he discovered the Romanzov, Rurik and Krusenstern (Tikehau) Islands, von Kotzebue also collected valuable botanic and ethnographic information.
With the generous cooperation of the Estonian History Museum, Kau Manor is proud to display many of his maps, journals, and illustrations.
Amongst Kotzebue’s belongings, Kau Manor displays a collection of original engravings made by the German-Russian painter and explorer Louis Choris (1795-1828), who accompanied Kotzebue on the Romanzov expedition.
As one of the first recorded sketch artists of expedition research, Choris’ works include the famous portrait of King Kamehameha I of Hawaii, the Chief of Ratak Islands Larik, and dozens of drawings depicting the tribal life of the Pacific Islands, Japan and the northwest coast of North America. Kau Manor’s restaurant Eight Legs displays a selection of enlarged high quality reproductions of Choris’ work.
The Kau Manor houses one of the best library collections on Baltic German history in Estonia with some 3000 texts (many of them rare) on the region’s history, culture, economy and politics.
Kau library also holds the only known copy of an Estonian Prayer Book from 1728, as well as several books from 17th century, the first printed book in Georgian language, the first printed version of the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia, and an original map used to negotiate the Estonian-Russian border at the Tartu Peace Treaty negotiations in 1920.
Kau Manor, in partnership with the Estonian History Museum, hosts a broad range of ethnographic artefacts from around the globe collected by Kotzebue on his travels. The partnership was established principally to return to the house the collection consisting of objects of bone, stone, and wood from Siberia, Alaska, North America, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands.
These remarkable works of art once belonged to Kotzebue and were painted during the round-the-world voyages that Choris and Kotzebue took together.
The Kau Manor building has been fully restored to its original splendour. Its magnificent interiors, the inspiration of the acclaimed artist and filmmaker Mary Jordan, are a tribute to the Otto von Kotzebue legacy – nineteen absolutely unique rooms with a story to tell. Each is decorated in a singular and irreproducible style, and all rooms feature glorious views of the Manor Park or the magical Estonian forest.
Reclaimed hardwood floors, centenary beams, high ceilings, stunning antiques, handmade vintage rugs, richly textured custom-designed furnishings, luxuriantly textured wood, leather and felt accents, original artwork, beautiful tiles, French linens, and a bounty of scents and fabrics provide a unique cocktail for the senses.
Kau Manor has already begun the project of creating a sculptural garden in its stunning park of meandering footpaths. An oasis in the woods that merges art and landscape to inspire its guests’ curiosity and creativity, it will feature works from international artists, bringing high caliber public art to the Manor grounds and drawing new resources to the region by building new relationships between people and the natural environment.
Committed to helping artists and promoting the arts, Kau Manor aims to be an empty canvas for all sorts of expression. To this end, the Manor hosts many cultural events year round.
Each summer, the Kõue Heli music festival attracts the best in experimental, alternative, and electronic music, and offers unforgettable performances in a one-of-a-kind environment.
Additionally, movie screenings, theater plays, conferences and concerts also invite guests to participate in the Manor’s cultural richness.
In the future, Kau Manor will also have the archive of the Estonian writer Jaan Kross, which is being prepared by his son Eerik-Niiles Kross.
As the Kau Manor area is first mentioned in the Liber Census Daniae in 1241 and the name was written down by Danish monks around 1220, it has been long known that the property was in existence in Pre-Christian times. However, until 2013 there was no factual proof to this. In the summer of 2013, a Viking era silver treasure was discovered on the field of the manor, about 500 metres south of the manor house.
The treasure consisted of more than 30 silver coins, six brooches, five rings, several neck medallions and a silver balance with weights dating to the end of 11th century. Some of the neck medallions, locally made imitations of Arabic coins, are unique.
The Kau Treasure samples are the only ones known made using this particular technology. The treasure is of high quality silver and represents Estonian Viking era’s best craftsmanship. It is determined that the treasure must have belonged to a wealthy noble woman living nearby, from the Viking era Masters of Kau.
The Kau Academy was established in 2011 by Mary Jordan with the goal of supporting established and emerging artists.
The Academy actively pursues this goal through a variety of initiatives that aim to engage both the local and international community. For more information, visit Kau Academy’s website.