Updated: Apr 2
Join us for a visit to a very rare specimen of a Barocco manor house in Finland, Louhisaari, the birth place of the general of the Czar’s imperial army, explorer of Central Asia and China, commander-in-chief of three Finnish wars and twice Head of State, baron Mannerheim!
The Mannerheims came originally from Germany but were ennobled in Sweden in 1693. In the late 18th century, the family moved to Finland and after Sweden lost Finland to the Russian Empire in 1809, the family soon further climbed the social ladder with Mannerheim’s great-grandfather becoming the head of the executive of the Czar’s Grand Duchy (the then equivalent to today’s Prime Minister).
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was born in Louhisaari in 1867 and the most looked at piece of furniture in the museum today is his birth bed in the blue room!
Despite the wealth and status of the family, Carl Gustaf’s childhood at the manor was all but happy. His father abandoned his wife and the family and left for Paris in 1880 with his mistress, a young noblewoman. His mother’s early death added to the family’s financial uncertainty and may have been one of the reasons why Mannerheim was sent to a military school in 1882 which eventually resulted in a magnificent career in the Russian Imperial Army.
The Czar transferred Lieutenant General Mannerheim to the reserve in October 1917 (sic!), and in December of the same year he returned to Finland. Instead of his plan for a peaceful retirement, Mannerheim was elected regent of Finland in 1918 and he also served as commander-in-chief in the Finnish civil war. Later, Mannerheim served as commander-in-chief of the Finnish army in the Winter War 1939–40 and the Continuation War 1941–44 and finally, was elected president of the Republic in 1946 Exhausted by illness, he resigned from the presidency in March 1946, moved to Lausanne, Switzerland where he also died in 1951.
The Mannerheims acquired the manor in 1795 and as late as in 1903, Baroness Wilhelmina Mannerheim moved to Sweden and sold the house to Oskar Hannus. A charity committee purchased the mansion and donated it Finnish State in 1965 and the current museum was opened for visitors in 1967. Today, the museum gives a good presentation of the way of life of upper classes in Finland from to the 17th to the 19th centuries in addition to telling the childhood story of one of the great men in the country's history.
The manor itself is a rare example of a Palladian style country house in Finland. During the restoration of the 1960s, the exterior, and the first and third floors were restored back to its 17th century style. The second floor was brought back to the 18th and 19th century design giving us an idea of how it must have looked in Mannerheim’s childhood.
The house is surrounded by a park in the English landscape style.
After the museum tour, check the Café serving traditional Louhivuori delicacies next to the manor. There is a museum shop at the entrance selling souvenirs, goodies and publications with a touch of the noble life of the past.
Given the nature and age of the manor, the museum is not really accessible other than the first floor. There is an accessible loo in the annex of the manor.
Visit and photos by Vesa Turunen
Louhisaari Manor Louhisaarentie 244 FI-21240 Askainen