Latvia

Best Castles in Latvia

Neighboring the Baltic Sea and other northern European countries, Latvia is a country with a range of influences, as well as an extensive history of regional invasions, both in recent history and centuries past. There is only really one major city in Latvia, Riga, which is an up and coming tourist destination, with its narrow, cobbled streets, gorgeous architecture and wonderful culture; when one venture out of the city, you can expect to find large spans of countryside, as well as some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches in the entirety of Europe. What many people don’t realize about Latvia, is that it also offers an enormous range of castles, with roots and origins dating back to prehistoric times, and developing all throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance; this list will highlight the best castles in Latvia, their key points of interest, and practical information, such as opening times and location.

26 Famous Latvian Castles to visit

1. Rundale Castle

Castles in Latvia-Rundale-Castle

The construction of the current Rundale Castle began in the year 1736, on the site of an old medieval castle; the land was bought by the Duke of Courland, Ernst Johann von Biron, who demolished the medieval castle, and began the work on the new castle, which was designed by the architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli. During the Latvian War of Independence, the castle was heavily damaged, and parts were burned down; however, there are some parts that are still in good condition, and have been restored to their original state, including the Duke’s Sleeping Chambers, and the Throne Room.

Where: Rundale, Latvia

When: 1736

Style: Baroque

Open for visit: 9:00am – 17:00pm

2. Sigulda Castle

Best castles in Latvia-Sigulda-Castle

Before the existing Sigulda Castle was constructed, there existed a previous castle that was built during the 17th century. The current castle was constructed during the time of Duchess Olga and Duke Dimitry Kropotkin’s, who used the materials of the original castle to construct the new one, which was built between the years 1878 and 1881. The new castle is built in the Neo-Gothic style, and therefore has a very romantic and magical feel to it; sadly, during the First World War, the building was partially destroyed and was later rebuilt and renovated to its previous glory.

Where: Sigulda, Latvia

When: 19th century

Style: Neo-Gothic

Open for visit: 10:00am – 16:00pm

3. Turaida Castle

Latvian Castles-Turaida-Castle

The construction of the Turaida Castle began in the year 1214, as the result of the instructions given by Albert, who was the Archbishop of Riga, to his Livonian Brothers of the Sword, upon the same site of the previous, original castle of Liv, that was made of wood. The castle was distinct, as it was predominately constructed of the classic red-brick, that is distinct to northern Europe; its primary function during the Middle Ages was to serve as a defensive system, was it was one of the strongest in the region. Today, only a small amount of the castle remains, but it is nonetheless open to visit and explore.

Where: Turaida, Latvia

When: 1214

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 10:00am – 15:00pm

4. Cesis Castle

Famous Castles in Latvia-Cesis-Castle

The wonderful Cesis Castle is one of the most famous castles in the whole of Latvia, it is also incredibly well preserved given its age. The history of this castle begins in the autumn of 1206, where during the period of the Livonian Crusades, the small tribe group, called the Wends, became allies of the crusaders and took up residence in the stone wall hillfort. Since then, the castle has been renovated many times and has changed hands on several occasions, but it has always played a military role. However, the castle did fall to ruins in the 18th century and can be seen today in its abandoned state.

Where: Cesis, Latvia

When: 1206

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 10:00am – 17:00pm

5. Bauska Castle

Best Latvian Castles-Bauska-Castle

Situated on the outskirts of the Latvian city of Bauska lies the Bauska Castle, which is part of a large complex, which is made up of the ruins of an earlier castle, and a much later palace. The first stone castle was constructed between the years 1443 and 1450, by the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Knights, and it continued being constructed until the end of the 16th century. Today, only ruins of the castle remain, as in the year 1706, during the Great Northern War, and both the castle and the palace were blown up by the Russians.

Where: Bauska, Latvia

When: 15th century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 9:00am – 16:00pm

6. Ludza Castle

Castles in Latvia-Ludza-Castle

The first mention of Ludza Castle dates back to the year 1433, during which the Livonian Order built an enormous stronghold fortress in the place of an earlier wooden fortress, that was originally constructed by the ancient Latgalians. Like many medieval castles in Latvia, the Ludza Castle has a rich military history; for example, in the year 1481, the Russians invaded the town of Livonia, and in doing so, heavily damaged the castle. The town was once again invaded in the year 1577 by the Russians, and the castle was sacked. Today, very little of the castle remains, but it is still a great place to visit to explore some history.

Where: Livonia, Latvia

When: 1433

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 10:00am – 15:00pm

7. Riga Castle

Best castles in Latvia-Riga-Castle

Nestled upon the banks of the River Daugava in Latvia’s capital city of Riga, lies the gorgeous, and equally fascinating Riga Castle. The castle was originally founded in the year 1330, and was built upon the basis of an agreement between Riga and the Livonian Order; rather than rebuilding the original castle, Riga Castle was built instead. Since 1922, Riga Castle has been the official residence of the President of Latvia; today, this is a key highlight for visitors to the city, and there are several great museums on the site that are just waiting to be explored.

Where: Riga, Latvia

When: 1330

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: 9:00am – 17:00pm

8. Mezotne Castle

Latvian Castles-Mezotne-Palace

Situated in the Bauska district of the Semigallia region of Latvia, which is in the center of the country, lies the grand Mezotne Castle; construction of this stunning palace began in the year 1798 and was occupied by the Russian monarchy, including Empress Catherine II of Russia, and Emperor Paul I of Russia. The castle is built in the neo-classical architectural style and was designed by the Italian architect, Giacomo Quarenghi, and it draws upon influences of a romanticized, and classical past. Today, the castle is open to the public, and it is well worth visiting the gorgeous palace interiors, and the wonderful gardens.

Where: Bauska, Latvia

When: Late 18th century

Style: Neo-Classical

Open for visit: 9:00am – 17:00pm

9. Jelgava Castle

Famous Castles in Latvia-Jelgava-Palace

Jelgava Palace is famed as being the largest Baroque-style Palace in the entirety of the Baltic states, and it is a very popular tourist destination for those visiting the country of Latvia. Construction of Jelgava Castle began in the year 1738, on the site of a previous medieval castle that belonged to the Livonian Order. The castle has been home to many noble, regal, and famous people throughout the centuries; for example, in the 19th century, the palace became the residence of the Governor-General of Courland Governorate.

Where: Jelgava, Latvia

When: 1738

Style: Neo-Classical and Baroque

Open for visit: 10:00am – 18:00pm

10. Dundaga Castle

Best Latvian Castles-Dundaga-Castle

Located in the Dundaga region of Latvia lies the Dundaga Castle, which is a medieval castle, that is considered to be of paramount archaeological and architectural significance. The castle was built in the late 13th century, by the Archbishop of Riga; the Archbishop gained control of the lands of Dundaga in the year 1237, and he began construction of the castle next to the site of a Curonian settlement. In the 15th century, specifically the year 1434, the castle was sold to the Bishopric of Courland, and then later sold again in 1559 to the King of Denmark. Today, there are several fascinating artworks and original features at the site that give a greater insight into its past.

Where: Dundaga, Latvia

When: 13th century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 10:00am – 18:00pm

11. Edole Castle

Castles in Latvia-Edole-Castle

Edole Castle was built between the years 1264 and 1267, for the Bishop of Piltene. However, this original was ultimately destroyed, and was later rebuilt in the 16th century; since this rebuild, until the year 1920, the castle was the property of the Baltic-German Baron von Behr, as well as his descendants. In the 19th century, like many European castles, Edole Castle was drastically reconstructed in line with Neo-Gothic architectural principles, and took on a truly magical, and enchanting style and atmosphere.

Where: Edole, Latvia

When: 13th century

Style: Neo-Gothic

Open for visit: 10:00am – 17:00pm

12. Jaunpils Castle

Best castles in Latvia-Jaunpils-Castle

Situated in the historical region of Zemgale in Latvia, lies Jaunpils Castle; this castle was first mentioned in the year 1411, and it is believed to have been built at the end of the 14th century. However, throughout the years, many additions were added, including the tower being added in the 15th century. During the year 1576, the castle became the property of the last komtur of Dobele Mathiass von der Recke, and remained under the ownership of his relatives until the year 1920. This castle has an abundance of history that is just waiting to be discovered and is a popular destination for tourists.

Where: Zemgale, Latvia

When: 14th century

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: 9:00am – 17:00pm

13. Koknese Castle

Latvian Castles-Koknese-Castle

Koknese Castle is actually a complex of castles located in Koknese, in Latvia, and dates back to the 13th century. It began life as a wooden hill fort that was home to the Balts, though in 1209, the Bishop Albert of Riga decreed that a stone castle was to be built at the site, and it was to be named Kokenhusen. For half a century, this structure was used primarily as a defense fort, but in the year 1277, the castle has a large enough population to receive city rights, and therefore that it was it became, and it continued to flourish.

Where: Kokneses Pils, Latvia

When: 13th century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 10:00am – 16:00pm

14. Krustpils Castle

Famous Castles in Latvia-Krustpils-Castle

Located in the town of Jekabpils in Latvia, lies the beautiful Krustpils Castle, which is one of the most well-preserved medieval castles in the whole of the country. The first written records of this castle date back to the year 1237, where an original castle was built by the Archbishop of Riga. Later, in the year 1359, the castle was taken by the Livonian Order, as were several other castles in the area that belonged to the Archbishop; later in 1559, the castle was entirely destroyed during the Livonian War. Later, in the 18th century, the castle was renovated in the Baroque style, which is still evident today.

Where: Jekabpils, Latvia

When: 1237

Style: Baroque

Open for visit: 9:00am – 15:00pm

15. Lielstraupe Castle

Best Latvian Castles-Lielstraupe-Castle

Lielstraupe Castle is located in the beautiful historic region of Vidzeme in the north of Latvia and is a stunning medieval castle that dates back to the 13th century. When it was built, it became the central point for the village of Straupe, which then grew around the castle during the 14th century. From the second half of the 13th century, all the way until the year 1625, the castle was owned by the baron family Rosen, and since 1723, it was owned by the governor Peter Lacy. Today, the castle is open to the public and also houses a drug addiction rehabilitation hospital.

Where: Straupe, Latvia

When: 13th century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 10:00am – 16:00pm

16. Ventspils Castle

Castles in Latvia-Ventspils-Castle

Located in Latvia’s town of Ventspils lies the Ventspils Castle, which is one of the oldest, and best-preserved castles in Latvia that stem from the Livonian Order. Amazingly, the castle has maintained its original structure and layout since its initial construction, which attracts many visitors for this reason alone. The purpose and function of Ventispils Castle has changed and altered over its immense 700-year past, including a fortress, a garrison, a school, and a prison. During the 19th century, the castle was renovated to return to its 19th-century style.

Where: Ventspils, Latvia

When: 13th century

Style: renaissance

Open for visit: 10:00am – 17:00pm

17. Cesvaines Castle

Best castles in Latvia-Cesvaines-Castle-

Cesvaines Castle, or sometimes known as Cesvaines Palace, was originally built in the year 1896 for the German baron, Emil Von Wulf, and is located in the scenic town of Cesvaines in central Latvia. Next to the current site lies an array of old medieval castle ruins, which are fascinating, and give an insight into the multifaceted history of the castle. Architecturally, this castle takes on the style of the English Tudor era, as well as certain Gothic elements, which gives it a very special and magical appearance.

Where: Cesvaines, Latvia

When: 1896

Style: Neo-Renaissance

Open for visit: 9:00am – 16:00pm

18. Stameriena Castle

Latvian Castles-Stameriena-Castle

Built in the Historicist style, between the years 1835 and 1843, lies the gorgeous Stameriena Castle, which is located in the stunning historical region of Vidzeme, which is in the north of Latvia. Sadly, during the Russian Revolution, the castle was burned down in 1905 but was later restored and returned to its former glory by Baron Boris Von Wolff, who rebuilt it in the style of French Neo-Renaissance. The first owner of the castle was Johann Gottlieb von Wolff, whose descendants still own the castle today.

Where: Vidzeme, Latvia

When: 19th century

Style: Neo-Renaissance

Open for visit: 10:00 am – 16:00 pm

19. Birini Castle

Famous Castles in Latvia-Birini-Castle

Birini Castle, or sometimes known as Birini Palace, as built by the Riga born architect, Friedrich Wilhelm Hess, between the years 1857 and 1860, and was built for the Baltic-German baron, August von Pistohlkors. The interiors of this castle are one of its key highlights, as they are built in the grand Neo-Renaissance style, and have some incredible features, including the enormous entry hall, a double oak staircase, as well as beautiful terraces with stunning lake views. In the 20th century, the castle was rebuilt again by Rudolf Heinrich Zirkwitz.

Where: Vidzeme, Latvia

When: 19th century

Style: Neo-Renaissance

Open for visit: 10:00am – 17:00pm

20. Dobele Castle

Best Latvian Castles-Dobele-Castle

Located in the small Latvian town of Dobele, on the banks of the river, in the gorgeous region of Zemgale, lies the Dobele Castle, which was originally built in the year 1335, by the Livonian Order. It is built upon the site of an older, ancient castle, which like many historic castles, adds to a sense of intrigue and multi-faceted heritage. This castle has had a long history of noble and important individuals residing in it across the centuries, including between the years 1643 and 1649, it was resided in by the widow of the Duke of Courland, Elisabeth Magdalena; it was also visited by King of Sweden Charles Xii for six days in the 18th century.

Where: Dobele, Latvia

When: 14th century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 9:00am – 17:00pm

21. Slokenbeka Castle

Castles in Latvia-Šlokenbeka-Castle

Slokenbeka Castle is a historic fortified manor in the Latvian region of Semigallia, and is the only remaining example of its kind in the whole of central Latvia. The castle began life prior to the year 1544, and was built as a castle of the Livonian Order, and was enveloped by stones walls and portholes. Later, in the year 1772, additions were added, including the attic roofs, as well as portals and weathervanes. During the 19th century, a new manor house was built, and it was built in the classicist style that was popular at the time.

Where: Semigallia, Latvia

When: 1544

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: 10:00am – 16:00pm

22. Lielvarde

Best castles in Latvia-Lielvārde

Lielvarde Castle is a gorgeous, but ruined medieval castle in the beautiful historical region of Vidzeme in the northern part of Latvia. The castle was built at the banks of the Daugava River, which during the Middle Ages, was a key waterway for trading. The castle is believed to have been built before the year 1248, by the architect Albert of Buxthoeven, who was the Archbishop of Riga and was made of dolomite. In the year 1579, in the midst of the Livonian War, the castle was destroyed by the Russian troops. The ruins are still available to view to the public.

Where: Vidzeme, Latvia

When: 1248

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 10:00am – 13:00pm

23. Rezekne Castle

Latvian Castles-Rēzekne-Castle

Situated in the center of Rezekne, which is a city in the Latgale region of Latvia, lies the Rezekne Castle, which began life as a base for the Livonian Order landlords, right up until the 16th century. It also served as a primary military base for key battles against Russians and Lithuanians. Today, the castle is ruined, but the remains of it are still visible on the ancient castle hill and are open to visitors. The castle has been at the center of lots of history throughout the centuries; it was finally destroyed during the year 1656, when the Swedish troops defeated the Russians, during the Second Northern War.

Where: Rezekne, Latvia

When: Pre 12th century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 10:00am – 16:00pm

24. Aizpute

Famous Castles in Latvia-Aizpute

Like many castles in Latvia, the Aizpute Castle was also built by the Livonian Order; it is located in the town of Aizpute, which is in the historical area of Courland, in the West of Latvia. The castle is believed to have been built in the year 1249, under the Order Master Dietrich von Gruningen, and played a primarily military function. In more recent history, the castle became a school in 1939 and was used as such until the mid-1970s, when it was abandoned, and not restored until the year 1990. Today, the castle is open to the general public.

Where: Aizpute, Latvia

When: 1249

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 10:00am – 17:00pm

25. Piltene

Best Latvian Castles-Piltene

Nestled elegantly in the town of Piltene in the historical region of Courland, in the West of Latvia, lies the stunning ruinous 14th century Piltene Castle, that originally functioned as a capital of Bishopric of Courland. The castle was first mentioned in documents in the year 1309 after the bishop of Kurland was forced to depart from his land and fortress. The castle played a huge military function throughout its centuries of existence, and there is so much to discover about the heritage of the castle. It has been ruined since the 1750s, where the fortress fell out of use entirely.

Where: Piltene, Latvia

When: 14th century

Style: Medieval

Open to visit: Always able to be visited.

26. Aluksne

Castles in Latvia-Alūksne

Aluksne Castle was built in the year 1342, upon one of the largest islands in the Lake Aluksne; it was built by the Landmeister Burkhard von Dreileben and was involved in the reinforcement of the Eastern border of Livonia. The castle was famed for being incredibly strong, and consistently survived many attacks; for example, in the 16th century, the castle was seized by the troops of Ivan IV of Russia during the Livonian War. It was not until 1702 that the castle was finally destroyed during the Great Northern War.

Where: Aluksne, Latvia

When: 1342

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: 10:00am – 17:00pm

This list has documented the top castles to visit in the beautiful country of Latvia; if you fancy visiting somewhere that is a bit different, and not on the majority of tourists’ itineraries, this is the perfect place to explore for history, scenery, and a laid-back trip.

 

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