Hotell Palace

Republic of Estonia and Five Fates

Estonian influential and wealthy businessman Johannes Mürk (1874-1946)
Death in Exile

Johannes Mürk. 1938. Estonian National Archives, ERA.1.2.821.25.1
Johannes Mürk. 1938. Estonian National Archives, ERA.1.2.821.25.1

Johannes Mürk was an Estonian businessman, politician, and member of the Riigikogu (Estonian parliament).

He participated in the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920).

The Estonian War of Independence played a crucial role in the country’s independence, commemorated by the monument in Freedom Square known as the Victory Column of the War of Independence. The monument is crowned with the Cross of Liberty, which was Estonia’s highest award.

Johannes Mürk was the owner of the Palace Hotel and chairman of the board of the Estonian Insurance Society (EEKSI House). It was thanks to his efforts that the Palace Hotel was built. His motto was: “Only the best of the best is good enough for a hotel that must mark a new era in the hotel industry.”

Johannes Mürk died in exile in Sweden, a fate shared by many Estonians. He did not witness the independence of Estonia nor the atrocities of the Soviet era.

Hotel Palace

Hotel Palace. Architect Elmar Lohk. Estonian Museum of Architecture. EAM Fk 1642.
Hotel Palace. Architect Elmar Lohk. Estonian Museum of Architecture. EAM Fk 1642.

The architecture of Hotel Palace stands as a testament to the pre-war Republic of Estonia’s finest architectural achievements. Among them, Palace was the first upscale hotel in Tallinn. Completed in 1936, it was designed by architect Elmar Lohk.

The facade of Hotel Palace embodies the Art Deco style, characterized by zigzags, straight lines, and simplicity. The striking advertising tower still present on the roof adds a stylish urban design element to modern-day Tallinn. Newspapers referred to Hotel Palace as a palace indeed. The hotel had 50 guest rooms, each more luxurious than the last. On the sixth floor, J. Mürk had a 6-room luxurious apartment. Catering to the most demanding and affluent clientele, each floor had a larger hotel suite consisting of an entrance hall, two rooms (with access to a balcony), and a bathroom.

During the Soviet era, Hotel Palace shared a fate similar to many other businesses in Tallinn. Nationalized in 1940, Johannes Mürk fled to Sweden with his wife and children. Despite this, Hotel Palace maintained its special status even during the Soviet era, hosting foreigners and important guests. The hotel continues to operate successfully to this day.

Question

Why do you think the Palace Hotel is significant and belongs on the list of cultural heritage sites?

 

Hint

Look for the next QR code around the surroundings of the former EKA building. The abbreviation “EKA,” which nowadays reminds us of the Estonian Academy of Arts, actually originally stood for the Estonian Insurance Company (Eesti Kinnituse Aktsiaselts). Look for a building with a diamond pattern on the facade.

Location of the next QR code

 

 

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