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Count Theodor fon Medem interested in revival of Eleja Manor in Jelgava (Latvia)

In the end of March in Rouen, France, Chairman of the Jelgava Local Municipality Ziedonis Caune met with the descendant of Medem`s family – the count Theodor von Medem, who now lives in France, to discuss the future of Eleja Manor park. This issue has been brought forward in connection with the pilot project being implemented in Eleja Manor park within the Baltic Sea region programme`s project „Trans in Form”.

Count Medem admits that he could return to Latvia and resume development projects of his heirlooms, including Eleja manor. Already while living in Latvia (from 2002 till 2004) he had an idea to renovate Eleja manor and establish a hotel there. He has not given up on this idea and still intends to realize it in cooperation with producers and suppliers of products of Latvian biological agriculture. Moreover, when the French television featured his film about Latvia it created a great interest in France and evidences a potential tourist flow to Latvia.

During the meeting Z. Caune informed Theodor von Medem about the idea of renovation of the park and reconstruction of the open-air stage implemented by Jelgava Local Municipality. Currently the public procurement has been finished about the dendrological audit of the park and development of the design for the park landscape.

Th. von Medem has accepted the invitation to participate in the first festival of Jelgava region in the beginning of July in order to discuss further activities. Until then the municipality should clarify all the issues concerning ownership of Eleja Manor park and buildings. These issues have not been solved due to frequent changes of owners. The descendant of Eleja manor owners’ family plans to attract financing from the European Union, and his ideas are supported by the expert of Latvian art and architecture, director of Rundāle Palace Imants Lancmanis.

Count von Medem is representative of the Medem family, which lived in Latvia since the 13th century.

Duke Johann Friedrich von Medem bought Eleja manor in 1753. Marriage of his daughter Dorothea with the Duke of Kurland, Peter, in 1779 gave von Medems’ the title of the Dukes of the Holy Roman Empire and provided them a special place in the history of Kurland nobility.

Eleja Palace was built from 1806 till 1810. From 1840 till 1860 Eleja Manor ensemble was considered to be a distinguished example of architecture in the whole Europe. It embraced 19 buildings, a park, beer brewery, stockyards, stables, wind mills, brick and lime kilns, pond system, grove and 1500 hectares of land and woods.

Eleja manor was destroyed in July 1915, when Russian army burned down 18 out of 19 buildings. In 1925 and 1927 there were renovation projects developed, but they proved to be too expensive. In 1933 the decision was taken to demolish ruins of the palace. Several buildings in Eleja have been built from the bricks of the palace.

Nowadays Eleja Manor ensemble is a cultural monument of Latvia. Within the manor complex there have been guest house and theatre house restored, as well as the tea house, fragments of ruins, hillock and the pond have been preserved.

published 12.04.2011