Kadriorg Palace

Tallinn, Estonia | C.1718

Photo Credit: Kaisa Kaer

Sometimes your spouse can be your best business partner. For Peter the Great, his business matters often involved going to war — and yes, at times he brought his wife Catherine along on the battlefield. If it weren’t for Catherine’s involvement alongside Peter, the Kadriorg Palace may have never been built.

Catherine’s presence on the battlefield wasn’t necessarily due to her prowess in combat. Instead, she was a source of calm for Peter who often suffered from fits of rage and epileptic seizures. Catherine was so cheerful, that she was able to help the Russian conqueror center himself during stressful situations.

Peter the Great is credited with many things including putting a tax on beards, overseeing the torture of his own son, and bringing Russia into the modern world as a major player on the world’s stage. The latter he accomplished through numerous wars against Persia, the Ottoman Empire, and finally the Great Northern War with Sweden, a grueling twenty-one year-long conflict which ultimately earned him access to the Baltic Sea.

The Great Northern War wasn’t even finished before Peter put his architectural ‘cherry on top’. He envisioned a coastal paradise for Catherine, and in 1718 (three years before he officially claimed victory), he began construction of Kadriorg Palace on what is now Estonia’s northern coast. Peter was concerned with being perceived as a European ruler, so he commissioned an Italian architect to design the mansion. To this day, the Palace is still celebrated for its design.

In the centuries to come, the structure was transformed into a museum and the private residence for Estonia’s Head of State. Today, Kadriorg Palace houses a branch of the Kadriorg Art Museum – admission is a flat €5.50 per adult with no additional tax for facial hair.

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