Visits and more at Latvia’s castles
Many castles propose as well classic guiding tours with many often integrating art galleries and exhibitions. Some propose as well activities for all.
The Rundāle Palace ensemble is the most outstanding monument of Baroque and Rococo architecture in Latvia, built from 1736 to 1740 as the summer residence of Ernst Johan von Biron, Duke of Courland – a favourite of Empress of Russia Anna Ioannovna (Anna Ivanovna). The palace was built according to the project of the famous Russian court architect Franchesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The entire Rundāle Palace complex is a must-see: the palace, its architecture and interior, the Palace Garden, a vault, fountains, amphitheatre and museum. In addition, it is possible to find out more about all the tourist attractions by participating in various activities.
The palace tour guides offer various tours, as well as a specially theatrical tour, where the guides welcome guests in historical costumes. The territory of the palace ensemble is vast, so an exciting way to get to know it is a tour with an electric car and an audio guide. For those who want to experience aristocratic feelings, it is possible to dance a waltz in the White Hall to the accompaniment of On the Blue Danube by Johann Strauss or a piece of your own choice. The palace is also open for photo sessions. Whereas in the museum, it is possible to test your abilities in various orienteering games both in the palace premises and in the French Garden.
Rūmene Manor was a castle originally built for knights but changed hands many times over centuries and even belonged to the last governor of Tobago. In 1876, Rūmene Castle was reconstructed. The impressive neo-renaissance building is situated on a hill surrounded by a splendid park.
According to historians, Kukši Manor was built in the first half of the 18th century and was originally a single-storey stone building with a four-pitched roof. In the mid-19th century, it was however rebuilt again and again, to become a late Classicism manor surrounded by a park. The manor is now considered an outstanding example of Latvian castle architecture, blending baroque and late Classicism. The manor preserves mid-18th century black-glazed pottery stoves and doors, as well as several 19th century wall paintings.
Lielborne Manor is the only manor complex that has been preserved on Daugava River Nature Park. The 18th century old manor is well preserved and is today a place that families with children definitely enjoy with its wide variety of outdoor activities such as swings, children’s playground, climbing wall, outdoor exercise equipment, etc., and for parents – delicious morning coffee and other tasty Latgalian culinary heritage dishes.
Lūznava Manor is considered one of Latvia’s Art Nouveau gem in Latgale. Different exhibitions are made in collaborating with art centers, Rāzna National Park and others. You can see exhibitions, go on tours and rent rooms with historical aura. A manor was built in the early 20th century as a place for art and music. Over the decades it experienced historic change, becoming a school, military headquarters, then school again, parish administration and library.
A must-do is the Dobele Livonian Order Castle. It is the oldest building in Dobele and a Latvia cultural monument of national importance. Since 2002 the architect Pēteris Blūms has been working on the preservation and development of the castle complex. Visitors can view both permanent and changing expositions in the castle. They can also try their hand at the themed adventure game The Lost Medallion of the Duchess. The adventure game route includes places where visitors are not allowed. History explorers might like the workshop Ancient trades or work and tool, which is dedicated to learning about ancient trades and tools. In addition, the excitement of real treasure hunters can be felt in the museum programme Archaeological story of Dobele Castle, which allows everyone to participate in excavations.
The 800-year old Cēsis Medieval Castle served originally as a residence for the Knights of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword and became during the Teutonic Order one of the most powerful fortress in Livonia. Nowadays, it is possible to engage in various activities including a tour led by a servant dressed in medieval costume and learn the secrets of the castle.
The Bauska Castle belonged also to the Livonian Order and was built in the middle of the 15th century. Only its late 16th century part has been kept today and served as a majestic setting to learn the art of court dances and to get to know the dances of the Renaissance. It is also possible to try on Renaissance costumes, learn about the culture of dressing at the court of the Duchy of Courland (Kurzeme). And even help preparing ancient recipes of Latvia’s traditional dishes!
They are far more castles and far more activities to discover in Latvia. The best is to come and enjoy them at most!
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