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Our excursions: Rundale palace

Our excursions: Rundale palace

It takes you about three hours to get to Rundale. Through the window you can see how picturesque, hilly landscapes of Latgale (eastern Latvia) turn into a plain that is situated on the South of the country – in Zemgale. The surrounding places are rich in history; the guide tells you about the glacier that had moved here in pre-historic times, about Peter the Great who visited these places with his army as well as about the ancient traditions of Latvians. However the main purpose of the trip is Rudale Palace and B auska Castle.

Bauska Castle

History

The decision to build the castle in B auska was made in 1443. The Livonian Order that controlled these lands at that time needed a powerful fortress in order to protect itself from its main enemy – Lithuania. In the first half of the 15th century Livonian knights were several times defeated by the Lithuanians and Poles, therefore, Bauska Castle must have assured the control over the overland and marine routes to Riga and Russian Duchies.

The construction of the castle was completed in 1451 and it became a significant strategic achievement of the Order. Shortly , the city , which since 1518 is called Bauska , appeared around the castle. About one century later, in 1582, the construction of the fortified palace of the Duke of Courland was started on the base of the castle, and the construction was completed by 1596. The new construction made an ensemble with the remains of the Livonian order castle. The castle was used in a lot of wars in the 17th and 18th centuries and it often changed the owners. It had been used as a military fortress until the war with Napoleon: it used to be a French military camp.

Bauska Castle

Today

The reconstruction of the Duke’s palace started in the 1970s; the ruins of the walls built by the Livonians were put in order. By now the inside of the castle has been restored, the furniture of that period of time has been bought at the auctions and installed at the castle.

The visitors can go to a museum where they can see archaeological evidence excavated around the castle, the 17th century historic documents and clothes that they can try on. The Duke’s castle is the only building in Latvia in the style of Mannerism.

They can also go up the castle tower and enjoy the spectacular view of the landscape – the confluence of the rivers Memele and Musa which make the Lielup e River – the second significant river in Latvia.

Rundale Palace

History

Rundale palace is one of the most popular tourist places in Latvia. It is the first stone palace built by a prominent Russian architect of the Italian origin Bartolomeo Francesco R astrelli who also designed a lot of buildings in the Russian Empire including one of the main St. Petersburg sites – the Winter Palace.

The palace was built from 1736 to 1768. It is a huge complex that consists of the palace itself, household buildings adjacent to it, the French-style garden (10 hectares) and Hunting Park (34 hectares).

The Palace has changed its owners several times and it was affected by wars. During the Napoleonic war French soldiers tore the silk wallpaper and destroyed the library which was a gift from Catherine II. During World War I there was the German Army Headquarters and a hospital in the palace. Later, in 1919 the palace was severely damaged when Latvia was fighting for its independence. In the 1920s there was a school in the palace, and there were some reconstruction work done. At the end of World War II the palace was use as a grain warehouse.

Rundale Palace

Today

Rundale Palace is a vivid representation of the Baroque style with all typical features attributed to it: luxurious decorations, complicated architectural elements and “French-style garden”

Visitors can go to three buildings: eastern, central and western. They can see the premises for quests and balls, private chambers of the owner and his family. In the basement there is a museum where there are the exhibits that were found during the restoration of the palace as well as photographs.

During the warm season every visitor should have a walk in the French-style garden. Despite the fact that the park itself is not very large, due to its careful planning, you can see all elements peculiar to the French-style gardens: various types of pathways, pergolas, a maze, fountains, pools, etc. There is also a huge rose garden in the park which represents the history of rose selection in Europe since the 18th century. The “Green Theatre” – an amphitheatre where opera and theatre performances are held was opened in one of the bosquets in 2004.

Weddings, large receptions both at private and state levels, exhibitions, music festivals and concerts are organised at Rundale Palace. By the way, the TV series “War and Peace” released in 2016 by the BBC Channel were shot at Rundale Palace, as it looks like Rasterlli’s buildings in St. Petersburg.

The trip to Bauska and Rundale is especially good in the summer when you can enjoy not only the architecture but also the nature – wild and authentic around Bauska Castle , and planned and organized in the Rundale Palace Park.

If you liked the article, discuss it with your friends, and welcome to Latvia!

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