Russalka Memorial is a bronze monument sculpted by Amandus Adamson, erected on 7 September 1902 in Kadriorg, Tallinn, to mark the ninth anniversary of the sinking of the Russian warship Rusalka, or “Mermaid”, which sank en route to Finland in 1893. It was the first monument in Estonia made by an Estonian sculptor. The monument depicts an angel holding an Orthodox cross towards the assumed direction of the shipwreck. The model for the angel was the sculptor’s housekeeper Juliana Rootsi, whose grandson is the politician, Tiit Made.
On the morning of September 7th 1893 the Rusalka departed from Reval (now Tallinn) in Estonia to sail due north across the Gulf of Finland to Helsingfors (now Helsinki) in Finland. It should be noted that both Estonia and Finland were then ruled by Russia. The distance across open sea was some 55 miles and the Rusalka was escorted by a Rendell-type gunboat Tucha. In reasonable weather conditions the passage should have been a fast and easy one of six or eight hours. The weather did however deteriorate, and the ships lost contact in gale-force winds and rain. The Tucha arrived safely at Helsingfors in mid-afternoon but the Rusalka did not follow. A search was initiated immediately and two days later wreckage was washed ashore on the Finnish coast, including a lifeboat with one dead seaman. The vessel had 177 men on board but this was the only body recovered. Fifteen ships were engaged, fruitlessly, in the search for the Rusalka, continuing for over a month and only being suspended in Mid-October due to the first winter storms. The search was resumed in the middle of the following year, including observation from a balloon towed by one of the ships involved – and all again without success.