10 Interesting Facts about Aurora Karamzin

  • Aurora Karamzin (Eva Aurora Charlotta Karamzina (née Stjernvall) was a Finnish-Swedish philanthropist.
Aurora Karamzin by Karl Bryullov
Aurora Karamzin by Karl Bryullov   
  • She was appointed as a lady-in-waiting to Alexandra, the wife of Nicolas I, in 1830.
  • Her first fiancée, Alexander Mukhanov, died shortly before the wedding. She got a nickname “femme fatal”.
  • Aurora’s first husband was Pavel Demidov, “Russian Krez”. To commemorate the wedding day the couple made significant donations to the Helsinki Lankaster boys school, to the crafts school for female orphans, and set the fund for girls demonstrating outstanding achievements in studies.
Pavel Demidov by P. Vedenetskiy
Pavel Demidov by P. Vedenetskiy
  • In 1863 Alexander II visited Helsinki, and Aurora hosted the dinner for emperor and his family in her villa Träskändä in Espoo. The flowers were ordered from Nice. The wild animals were brought from Estonia and Germany and let loose in the park, so that the emperor could hunt them. The food was made by the famous chefs from Paris, and served on golden plates from Demidov’s mines. The evening ended with the fireworks in Träskändä’s park and along the road from Espoo to Helsinki.
Träskändä (photo from retkipaikka.fi)
Träskändä (photo from retkipaikka.fi)
  • After Pavel Demidov died, Aurora got married the second time, to Andrey Karamzin, the son of famous Russian historian Nikolai Karamzin. Andrey Karamzin died in 1854 in one of the Crimean War’s battles.
  • During the famine of 1870s in Finland, a lot of people came to Träskändä, where Aurora set a hospital and a shelter. She sponsored the Female Union of Helsinki, which used her donations to open kindergartens, schools for orphans, and soup kitchens. She also founded the Deaconess Institution of Helsinki.
  • Aurora received an enormous amount of letters on a daily basis from people in need asking for her help. She had a team of assistants, whose task was to check the living conditions of petitioners and suggest to Aurora measures that can be taken. After this preliminary review, she would meet with a petitioner personally. She especially favored students and young women who were trying to get education.
  • In 1901 Aurora wrote a letter to Maria Fedorovna, mother of Nicolas II, about the situation in Finland. Governor General Bobrikov was implemented highly controversial measures, like abolishing of the Finnish army and increasing education in Russian at schools. Aurora referred to the privileges and autonomy that Finland enjoyed, and stressed that all the previous emperors respected the special status of Finland. Maria Fedorovna passed the message to Nicolas II, but to no avail.
  • Aurora sold Hakasalmi villa, where she used to spent winters, to the city of Helsinki, and nowadays it’s a branch of the Helsinki City Museum. As for the villa Träskändä, Aurora’s family sold it to the municipality of Espoo, and since 1920s it operates as home for elderly people.
Hakasalmi villa
Hakasalmi villa
Hakasalmi villa

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