After the Orlovs emigrated to France in the 1920s, the manor buildings have been home to a hotel-restaurant, a flight school, and a grocery store. Since 1898, however, the Estonian History Museum has operated there. Maarjamäe limestone shore, which is about 4.5 km long and is situated behind the complex, was first placed under protection in 1938 and again in 1992. Limestone is the national stone of Estonia and outcrops of Cambrian and Ordovician rocks can be seen in the high terrace of Maarjamäe. The relative height of the cliff is a maximum of 30 m; its absolute height is 47 m.
In 1811, Johann Gottlieb Clementz founded a sugar factory in Maarjamäe, which is why it was originally called the Sugar Hill (Suhkrumäe). The most outstanding outcrop on Maarjamäe limestone shore is still called the Sugar Hill outcrop. In 1837, the factory was turned into a distillery after it got a new owner, but it burned down in 1869. In 1873, Anatoly Orlov-Davõdov, the Count of St. Petersburg, built a summer manor in the area, and named it Marienberg – probably after his wife or daughter (both were named Maria). People started using the Estonian version of the name at the end of the 1930s.