The touristic attraction of Sigulda is the Gutman cave, only 19 metres deep but the largest cave of the Baltics. The parking is 1 Lats (1,4 euro). It's the most written cave of Latvia. There's a nice legend (saga) about this cave wich romantic people will like to hear.
- National/State Park
Turaida and Sigulda castle
I really suggest to take you a tour to Turaida and Sigulda castles! I would like to say a very big "Thank you!" to a tour guide Sabine from a company Latvian Tour Guides, who took me and my friends to Turaida, Sigulda and Krimulda and did all her best to make that a perfect day tour to us!
If you go to Sigulda stop at restaurant in city centre which is next to the hotel (the name was "Kakis" (a cat in Latvian)) - very tasty pastries and a good coffee.
We went there on August 28 and the day was sunny so we walked a lot, but I do not know if we would enjoy it so much if it would rain.
One more thing - if you get till Krimulda - definitely take air cable car - it`s worth that!
The website for Sigulda: http://www.sigulda.lv/public/
for the company we took: http://www.latviantourguides.com/
the restaurant website I do not know...unfortunately
- Hiking and Walking
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Krimulda Palace and Estate
The manor house was built in the middle of the 19th century. It was turned into a tuberculosis hospital and it is today a sanatorium for children. In front of the manor house is a long wooden summer pavilion. There is a café which is open every day during summer and only on Saturdays and Sundays the rest of the year. It was closed when I visited.
- Historical Travel
The most beautiful castle in this region is the red brick Turaida castle, dating back to the 13th century. Its construction began in 1214, making it as old as the old Sigulda castle. The name Turaida means garden of Tor (a god known to many tribes of northern and central Europe). During the cursades, Turaida castle served as a base of the crusaders, but the castle came to fame because of a beauty called Turaida Rose. In the 18th century, a lightning hit the gunpowder store and destroyed the castle. It wasn’t until 1947 that the castle became part of a new museum. Since then, a couple of buildings in the castle were rebuilt. For further details about that, please check out my tip “Turaida Museum Reserve”.
- Museum Visits
- Castles and Palaces
The Turaida museum, established in 1947 received the status of museum reserve in 1989. The exhibitions illustrate the history of the Turaida Castle, parish and the Gauja Livs. Visitors are time-warped through many centuries, beginning with the exhibition of domestic objects dating back to the time of extinct tribes of Balts and Livs.
Birini Castle isn't very far from Sigulda, so if you're discovering this region, don't miss this georgeous palace.
The first information about this inhabited locality dates back to the 13th century and can be traced down in old legends and chronicles.
Birini Palace was built from 1857 – 1860. The building’s architectural style is more neogothic but the interior is dominated by romanticism.
Birini Palace has a beautiful regular park with a stunning view.
Turaida Museum Reserve
After leaving Gutmanis Cave, we headed toward Turaida. Although we saw a couple of directional signs, once again the path at some point is not well marked. We ended up walking along the shoulder of the main road at some point, you could see the castle from the road along with all kinds of signs saying not to climb up the hill to get there whether that be for safety or because you'd skip paying the admission fee.
So we resisted temptation and followed the road up to the official entrance, paid our 1.5 Ls and entered the reserve. The reserve has several attractions to visit, the highlight is the Turaida Castle but you will also want to go see the grave of Turaida Rose, the estate manager's house and surrounding buildings, the Turaida church and the Folksong sculpture garden.
We started off to the right of the admission desk, mostly because I saw the WC and was in desperate need now so our first stop was the Turaida Church.
The castle is the highlight to the visit to the Turaida Museum reserve especially the climb up the tower and the view over the Gauja Valley. There is an exhibition in the tower as well.
The castle was built in 1214 by the Archbishop of Riga on the site of a Liv stronghold. It was burnt down in 1776 (the tower survived). Some restoration has taken place since.
The name Turaida means God's Garden.
Small wooden Turaida church
This church is one of oldest wooden church left in Latvia; it was built in 1750, so at year of 2000 it had commemoration of 250 years. Really impressive. It is pity, there was no opportunity to see interior of this building. Maybe another time :)
Turaida Rose monument and story
Monument (garve) for Turaida rose have special story too. It is legendary story about one young girl (her name was Maija) who was killed, because she loved the man not from her class. That means, man was simply richer than her, had bigger possession.
Turaida red castle
Turaida castle is the most impressive in this place, on my opinion. Brick castle of Turaida, after one other wooden, that was burned before by German Crusaders, built in 1214. This castle was ruled by archbishops of Riga between 1214 and 1566.
Now it is quite famous place in Latvia, some exhibitions are held, from the castle tower you can see very good panorama of forested areas. It is said, these areas have the most beautiful look at autumn, when trees have different colours of leaves. Around castle area it is possible to see other things - like old wooden church, Sculptures Park.
This cave looks really impressive - that’s why it is the largest cave in the Baltic States. Talking about numbers, cave is 18,8 metres deep, 12 metres wide and 10 metres high. Nice paintings can be found in cave, but, pity, everyone, who visits this place, wants to fix it writing his name, date, impressions. That’s why cave and sand walls around are damaged by quite new writings like "I have been here".
There are legendary story about Gutmanis Cave too - Liv warrior ordered that his beautiful but cheating wife be entombed in the wall of a local cliff. The woman’s tears turned into a clear stream of water, which later carved the massive cave into the wall of rock.
Small cave (or Maza ula in Latvian)
Thats so unusual for me to see caves in Latvia (there are no such naturally formed caves in Lithuania). First one I saw on way to Red Turaida castle, is Small Cave.
Here is nice road leading to red castle - one side of it is caves and sand walls, another side is Gauja river, small streams, swamps.
Gauja river - second longest in Latvia!
It is so nice that there are two longest rivers of Latvia - Daugava and Gauja - near each other, mostly in Riga region. It is said, that Daugava is long, wide, but quite silent river, without big stream. Gauja, vice versa, is smaller one, but having big stream. You can see Gauja river when crossing bridge on your way to Turaida.
Notch up yet another castle ... the 'new' castle
It can get quite confusing keeping up with all the castles in Sigulda, and it is easy to get confused between the old castle and the medieval castle, both of which are in ruins.
So, take heart that the one Sigula castle that you don't stand a chance of getting confused with any of the others is the 'new' castle. This was built in the 19th century, and was formerly the residence of a Russian prince.
The castle is set amid lovely grounds and is architecturally a bit of a mongrel - but, like most mongrels, quite endearing. To my mind, the best bit is the massive Art Deco fireplace in the bar, which is over the top interior design on a monumental scale!
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