Historic Baltic Republics 2018 travel blog

Cesis Castle Ruin

Father of Song Turaida

Sigulda Castle

Turaida Museum

We travel through a protestant influenced area (German legacy from the Crusaders). Following the Holy Wars in C13th in North Africa, the Knights of the Sword were sent to convert the Baltic people. Some of the most attractive scenery with lots of rivers, forests and lakes: also rich in archaelogical sites, farm land and quiet villages. Visiting ruins of C13th Order of Knight's Castle in Cesis in the Gauja National Park, as well as the gothic tower of the Church of St John (also C13th). Possible visit to Sigulda Castle, a formidable knights' stronghold. After visiting the medaeval imposing red brick Tuarida Castle in the trees on the banks of the Gauja River and opposite Sigulda,we arrive at our hotel, the Hanza.

A travelling – and site seeing – day. We drove to Cesis to see the old ruins of Knights of Sword Castle, approached by walking through a park and over a narrow, swinging bridge over the (now dry) moat. This castle was interesting as it hadn’t been fully rebuilt in the usual modern red brick. The castle was so dark on entry a young woman in medieval costume gave us candle lamps so we could see where we were going. No H&S here ! I lost Sue around this time as I went on ever upwards exploring, with access via narrow stone staircases with little space anywhere for by-passing anyone coming from the opposite direction. This did present a few challenges as a huge coach load of German tourists came through. I had to stand my ground !

A new castle had been built immediately adjacent but as a separate unit which I managed to miss, going on to the neighbouring St John’s Church, followed by a walk around “swan” lake (so-named by me because of it’s single black swan) to find Sue and some lunch. I found the latter at a little kiosk under a shady tree before heading back to the facilities at the castle, eventually spotting Sue coming past the lake. A quick visit to the supermarket provided “dinner” for latter.

We drove on to the Turaida Museum Reserve, another red brick reconstruction, built with an interesting sculpture park with lots of grass and trees. The castle had a wide variety of displays throughout the complex and needed rather more time than we had to fully appreciate it.

On to Sigulda to see the castle ruins. Here we were able to access its tower, getting to the 5th floor by lift. This provided an impressive view to the Turaida Museum Reserve, over masses of lush vegetation.

We drove to Riga to a modernised as-far-as-possible ex communist hotel with “brown” bathroom and noisy fridge (which I unplugged). Very strange configuration with two bathrooms encroaching on our room and Sue and I sleeping cosily but in line looking out on the tower building next door.

We were out-castled today and very tired. Dinner was in the Hansa Pub with the TV on but no sound (thank goodness). We seemed to catch snatches of endless disasters around the world.

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