A Spiritual and Cultural-Historical Journey
from Pirita to Vana-Vastseliina

Pilgrim’s route

Rutikvere Manor

A cluster of historic buildings lies on the right bank of the Põltsamaa River in Rutikvere Village. The manor house of red bricks, outstanding both at exterior and interior, has stood in ruins since 1954. Of the former manorial buildings only the ice cellar and the lime kiln have survived. The site of a glassworks established in 1770 is recognisable in the landscape; the locals called it Pudelikumägi (Bottle Hill). The manor house together with auxialiary buildings is surrounded by a species-rich park in the English style founded in the 18th century.

The first records about Rutikvere (Ruttigfer) Village date from 1474. Rutikvere Manor was first mentioned in 1514, when Wolter von Plettenberg, the Master of the Livonian Order gave the knight Wilhelm von Zuifel a plot measuring three plough-lands.
In 1662 Rutikvere Manor passed into the hands of the von Pistohlkors family. The manor was given to the Pistohlkors by the King of Sweden for military services and they were its owners for nearly 250 years. New massive developments took place in Rutikvere Manor in the last decades of the 18th century, when Otto Friedrich von Pistohlkors II, an enlightened mason became Lord of the Manor.
Otto Friedrich von Pistohlkors II, a hobby gardener and a liberal, was born in Rutikvere in 1745. He became one of the biggest supporters and co-fundraisers of August Wilhelm Hupel, the pastor of the Põltsamaa congregation, who published books by Enlightenment authors. The foundation for the rich library of Rutikvere Manor was laid then.

In the late 18th century opulent, palace-like manor houses were built Estonia. The new stately building was started in Rutikvere in 1798. Otto Friedrich von Pistohlkors himself made the plans and elevations for the façade and floors of the new mansion. The manor house is in the Neoclassical style, the front is articulated by four Ionic columns and the back side features a peculiar rounded annex with a terrace and a staircase. Taking into account von Pistolkohrs’s masonic background we can assert that the columns symbolise wisdom. In comparison with other manor houses in Estonia the Pistolkohrs’s building had several innovations. According to the design the mansion was connected with auxialiary buildings by semi-circular covered walkways. The principal hall is circular-shaped, the first of its kind in Estonia, and the adjoining rooms are with circular-shaped floor plans and rounded wall niches.

According to legend, the foundation stones were brought with the help of horses over the frozen sea from Finland. The impressive outer staircases and a terrace were made of big stone blocks, cut from huge boulders. The construction ended in 1816, when the funds ran out. In 1821 Alexander von Pistohlkors was able to re-purchase the manor. But there was no vigorous construction activity as the bankruptcy had broken the will of the progressively-minded nobleman.
However, Otto Friedrich von Pistohlkors had built one of the most imposing manor houses together with a strong economic unit in Vana-Viljandimaa.

Rutikvere Manor was owned by the von Pistohlkors until the land reform in 1919 when the manorial lands were expropriated. Thereafter the mansion accommodated Rutikvere Elementary School. Later it also housed a doctor’s surgery and a constabulary; after the Päinurme manor house burnt down the Päinurme Elementary School moved to the premises in 1941. The school functioned in the Rutikvere manor house until 1954 when, after overheating, it burst into flames. The fire fizzled for a fortnight, as each strong gust of wind started the fire again. Now what remains are the walls of locally-produced burnt clay bricks and a storehouse, placed transversely to the mansion and connected with it by means of an arched walkway.

After the fire the local kolkhoz tidied up the surroundings and cleaned the walls. But they were not allowed to reconstruct the building, so the restoration plans were laid aside and it was used for storing building material. The mansion in its sorry state and the auxialiary buildings were purchased by a new owner, who wishes to restore the manor house to its former state. The manorial park has been tidied up, the stable for racing horses and „a small mansion” have got new roofs.


Põltsamaa River and Rutikvere watermill
A distinctive feature in Päinurme and Rutikvere area is the Põltsamaa River, the largest tributary of the Pedja River and one of the longest and most water-rich rivers in Estonia. From Rutikvere to Põltsamaa the river is deep and wide enough to allow smaller vessels to pass through. A dam has been built on the Põltsamaa River at Rutikvere. The trails that run along the steep banks of the river attract hikers and anglers. In Rutikvere there are picturesque ruins of an old watermill.

The mill was built here by the Swedish soldiers in 1616 and is one of the oldest mill buildings in Estonia. The watermill was a place for milling grain and meeting people. The mill has repeatedly burnt and has been restored. However, by the 21st century the watermill has finished its activity and its walls lie recumbent as if in sleep on the banks of the Põltsamaa River.

Ründo Mülts

Across the road, opposite of the Rutikvere Manor is the Jäägi Farm.
In Jäägi Farm has lived and worked a variety of families and people. In 1926–38 lived here Richard von Pistohlkors. After that municipality constable bought the farm. During the Soviet occupation was there in first a medical assistant officer and a vet’s reception, but then until 1965, an outpatient clinic of Doctor Kukemilk, who has returned back from Russian prison.
Then Jäägi Farm owned by Mr Jaan Krempel, who is related by Kukermilk’s family.

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