The Oldenburg Estate at Ramon
The former estate of the Oldenburgs at Ramon
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The Oldenburg Palace at Ramon
Princess Eugenia was the daughter of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna (eldest daughter of Emperor Nicholas I) and Maximilian de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg. Duke Alexander was a great-grandson of Emperor Paul I through his paternal grandmother Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna.
It was here that Eugenia and Alexander built a palace, which resembled a castle in the Old English style. They hired the architect Christopher Neysler, who began construction in 1883. It took three years to build, and the interiors were completed in 1887. The couple introduced a number of innovations to their castle, including a gate and tower, as well as a small menagerie which housed a variety of animals.
Eugenia and Alexander had one son, Prince Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg, born 1868. In 1901, Peter married Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, the youngest daughter of Emperor Alexander III, and youngest sister of Emperor Nicholas II. The couple spent time at Ramon, and later purchased an adjoining estate and built their own home, to be known as Olgino.
On 30 April 1902, the New York Times reported that a mob of peasants had attacked and set fire to the estate causing extensive damage. The cause was said to be due to labour unrest in the region.
In 1917, the castle and other buildings on the estate of Ramon were confiscated by the new Bolshevik regime, and were turned into barracks, a school, hospital, and housing for management of the nearby factory.
It is interesting to note that during the Second World War, that the Nazis refused to bomb the estate, having learnt of the castle’s original owner’s German roots. Maximilian de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg was born as the second son of Eugène de Beauharnais and Princess Augusta Amalia Ludovika Georgia of Bavaria. His maternal grandparents were Maximilian I, King of Bavaria and his first wife Marie Wilhelmine Auguste, Landgravine of Hesse-Darmstadt.
At the end of 1970, the palace was closed for restoration. During this time the building was unsuitable for use, but despite this guided tours were offered to visitors. In 2007 the regional administration and the Ramonsky Region Administration decided to lease the palace for 25 years. One of the main conditions of the lease was to preserve the palace as an architectural monument. However, the competition did not take place due to the fact that its members wanted to make drastic changes to the conditions of the lease agreement.
In the spring of 2007, Prince Michael of Kent, who is a descendant of Emperor Alexander II visited the estate of Ramon. While there he established a personal scholarship to the best students Voronezh State University. It was even rumoured at the time that he was going to buy the palace, but local authorities did not give their approval to the deal, due to the fact that the building is federal property.
In October 2009, plans for the restoration of the palace and its grounds were completed by German architects and presented to the local government for consideration. At the same time, the palace was visited by Bibiane Dorner, Duchess of Oldenburg.
In February 2010, the governor of Voronezh region announced that the estate of Ramon would be preserved as an historical museum. The project, financed by German investment, amounting to 40 million Euros will include the reconstruction and restoration of the palace and surrounding buildings, as well as the construction of a hotel.
Compiled by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
Photos © Frances Denis
Photos © Frances Denis