Mežotne Palace

Mežotne Palace



Location: Zemgale Map

Constructed: 1797- 1802 by Charlotte von Lieven

Tel. 6396 0711

Open: 9am- 5pm daily

Official site

Charlotte von Lieven

(1742- 1828)


Mežotne Palace is a neo- Classical private residence situated 70 km from Riga, in Zemgale region in Latvia. It was constructed in 1797- 1802 by Charlotte von Lieven (1742- 1828), teacher and governess of grandchildren of Russian Empress Catherine II the Great including Emperors Alexander I and Nicholas I. The architects of the manor were Giacomo Quarenghi and Johann Gottfried Adam Berlitz. English style landscape that was very popular at the time surround the residence. Ironically von Lieven spent only one night here due to her life at the Royal Palace in Saint Petersburg. She nevertheless was buried here. The residence was badly damaged during World War I and subsequent Russian Civil War. Last private owner of the castle, Anatol Lieven, lost the manor in 1927, when independent Latvia nationalized it, or as they put it "took under protection". Today Mežotne Palace is reconstructed and turned into a hotel that can house 36 people.


In the 17th century, in the context of the general economic development of the Duchy of Courland, which was strongly promoted by Jacob Kettler, an active adherent of the commercial strategy of mercantilism, the construction of manufactures began in the vicinity of Mesotten. One of the most famous is the tapestry that belonged to the ducal dynasty; glass and velvet manufactories also functioned actively. The Biron family, long-term rulers of Courland, together with the baronial family of Medemov, were the actual owners of the territory of Mesotten: here, in the Medemov estate, Anna Dorothea of ​​Courland was born, a secular lady with diplomatic abilities known throughout Europe, the third wife of the last Duke of Courland, Peter Biron. In 1797, the Mezotten estate was granted by Emperor Paul I to the educator of his daughters and sons Nicholas (the future emperor) and Michael Charlotte von Lieven (nee Baroness Gaugraben), widow of Major General Otto-Heinrich von Lieven. Charlotte Karlovna received positive recommendations from Yuri Yuryevich Brown, Governor General of Livonia, after which Catherine II in 1783 agreed to call her to court as a teacher of her granddaughters.

The history of the creation of the estate
In 1798, Giacomo Quarenghi created a project for the construction of a three-story luxurious palace-estate for Charlotte von Lieven. This project was implemented by the Courland architect Johann Berlitz; construction work lasted until 1802. In 1800, the creation of a vast English park began, the area of ​​which reached nine hectares.

In the Mesotten estate, which is an elegant example of a carefully planned landlord economy of the classicism era, a complex of administrative and outbuildings was created (a stable, a steward's house, a gardener's house). Elements of decoration and details of the layout of the central facade of the palace contain expressive signs of the architectural style of Quarenghi; also a testament to his skill is the colonnaded part, accented by the portico of the Ionic order.

The domed Italian hall is also made in the best traditions of the Italian architect, while Berlitz personally took up the design of the structure of the side facades, as well as the risalits of the palace. For Quarenghi, excessive compositional fragmentation of the elements of the side facades is not entirely characteristic - most likely, their development was carried out by the head of construction work, Berlitz. As for the interior decoration of the interiors and the painting of the main domed hall, they date from the beginning of the 1830s, when the artistic concept of late classicism prevailed.

History in the XX-XXI centuries
Until 1920, the last owner of the Mezotnensky estate was the Russian military leader Anatoly Pavlovich Lieven, the commander of the Libava volunteer rifle squad formed by him, the leading military unit of the Baltic Landeswehr, who participated in the capture of Riga on May 22, 1919 and the reprisals against the adherents of the government of Soviet Latvia. In 1920 Lieven lost his possession in connection with the entry into force of the agrarian reform in independent Latvia. The requisitioned Mezotne Castle became the property of the Latvian cultural and educational department - an agricultural school was housed in it.

In 1944, the palace was damaged during the retreat of the Wehrmacht military formations through Courland; after the war, it housed the office of a test breeding center. In addition, the premises of the former Mezotnensky estate were used for the needs of the post office, library; there were also premises for housing (ordinary apartments). In 1950, the palace was restored with partial changes in the interior layout and decoration.

In 1971-1979, a large-scale restoration of the interiors of the palace in Mezotne was carried out; the historical painting was restored, the stucco decorations of the main domed hall, designed by Quarenghi, were reproduced. Restoration work has affected the dining room and the living room. In modern Latvia, in Mezotne manor, there is a hotel with a small museum exposition dedicated to the general history of Mezotne, the Lieven owners and other noble families related to them.