Medieval castles in Latvia

Krimulda Castle Ruins

The Krimulda Castle dates from the 14th century and was destroyed in a war in 1601. During the 13th century the left bank of the Gauja river was governed by the Order of the Brethren of the Sword, (later known as the Order of Livonia), while the territories on the right bank were under the domain of the Archbishop of Riga. Krimulda castle belonged to the Riga High Council which was a group of twelve high priests who advis ...
Founded: ca. 1255 | Location: Sigulda, Latvia

Kandava Castle Ruins

Kandava settlement was first mentioned in 1230 in a peace treaty between the residents of Riga and the residents of the Abava valley in Courland. A military castle was built around 1257, but it was gradually dismantled over the years and now only its foundations can be seen in a town park. The oldest remaining structure is a guard tower built in 1334 and later used for gunpowder storage.
Founded: c. 1257 | Location: Kandava, Latvia

Slokenbeka Castle

Šlokenbeka Castle is a fortified manor and the only existing example of a fortified manor centre in Latvia. The construction was started by the Livonian Order before 1544. It was built in a trapeze-type yard, which was enclosed with stone walls and portholes. In 1772 the attic roofs were added to the building. In the 17th century towers with portals and weathervanes were erected, but Šlokenbeka lost its def ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Milzkalne, Latvia

Burtnieki Castle Ruins

Burtnieki was a site of a Livonian Order castle, built in 1284. The house was burned down in the 16th century, during the Livonian War. A part of stone wall on the southern side remains.
Founded: 1284 | Location: Burtnieki, Latvia

Dinaburga Castle Ruins

Dinaburga Castle was strategically situated on a high bank of the Daugava river. It was built between 1273 and 1277 by the Livonian Order, and destroyed by Russian troops before 1577. Nowadays, fragments of the foundation are exposed.
Founded: 1273-1277 | Location: Naujene, Latvia

Lielstraupe Castle

Lielstraupe Castle was built at the end of the 13th century by Fabian von Rosen, vassal of the Riga Archbishop. The village of Straupe began to develop around the castle in the 14th century. A large tower was added around 1600. Severely damaged by fire in 1905, the castle was restored between 1906 and 1909 by architect Vilhelms Bokslafs. Since 1963 it has housed a drug addiction rehabilitation hospital.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Straupe, Latvia

Nurmuiza Castle

Nurmuiža Castle walls date from the 14th century castle built by the Livonian Order. The castle was erected in the 16th-17th centuries, less as a fortification, more as an economic centre. At the same time a passable tower was built, too, in the 19th century decorated in the Empire style. In the centre of the castle there is a small yard. The windows of the main facade have ornamental sgraffito framings in mannerism. In ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Lauciene, Latvia

Grobina Castle Ruins

The Livonian Order erected Grobiņa Castle in 1253 to protect the roads from Livonia to Prussia. It was a square type building and was a three storey high living block in the southern aisle. It also had a gate tower in the middle of the western wall. The castle was built of bricks and crude stone. Once it had arched ceilings. It was a residence for the local viceroy of the Livonian Order from 1399 to 1590. As support ...
Founded: 1253 | Location: Grobiņa, Latvia

Vilaka Castle Ruins

Viļaka Castle was built by Archbishopric of Riga in 1342 as a wooden castle. At first it was closed monastery. It was rebuilt as a stone castle between 1509-1516. During Livonian war time in 1582 it was destroyed and finally demolished in 1702. The outer walls are 1.6m thick, remaining fragments of the walls are up to 2 meters high.
Founded: 1342 | Location: Viļaka, Latvia

Aluksne Castle Ruins

Alūksne Castle was built in 1342 by Teutonic Knights on the largest of the islands in the Lake Alūksne and called Marienburg (after Mary, the mother of Jesus). The first castle was constructed by the Landmeister Burkhard von Dreileben. It was part of a major reinforcement of the Eastern border of Livonia, the same year another major castle nearby (in Vastseliina) was founded as well. The initial castle was buil ...
Founded: 1342 | Location: Alūksne, Latvia

Ergeme Castle Ruins

Ērģeme castle served as a powerful fortress for the protection of the Livonian Holy Order eastern border and as a castle-front for the Cēsis castle of the Livonian Holy Order master. The castle was mentioned in 1422 but it was built already around year 1320 under the ordinance of the Order master Gerhard von Jocke. Masters used castle as a storehouse, point of support and shelter for the night. Planning of ...
Founded: c. 1320 | Location: Ērģeme, Latvia

Gaujiena Castle Ruins

Gaujiena Castle was built between 1236 and 1238. Severely damaged in 1702 during the Great Northern War, the structure was abandoned. Ruins can be viewed in the park near the 18th century manor centre.
Founded: 1236-1238 | Location: Gaujiena, Latvia

Lielvarde Castle

Lielvārde Castle was built by Riga Archbishop at the steep bank of Daugava River, overseeing this important medieval waterway. It was first mentioned in 1248 and destroyed by Russian troops in 1579. Conserved ruins up to the level of second floor.
Founded: ca. 1248 | Location: Lielvārde, Latvia

Vecdole Castle Ruins

Vecdole Castle (Schloss Alt-Dahlen) was built in the early 13th century (before 1226 when it was first time mentioned). It was built as a vassal castle for the arcbishop of Riga and destroyed already in 1298. Today only ruins remain.
Founded: ca. 1226 | Location: Salaspils, Latvia

Embute Castle Ruins

Embūte Castle ruins are located not far from an ancient castle hill erected by Curonians which was an ancient Curonian settlement and is mentioned in ancient chronicles as a place with strong Curonian resistance to German crusaders. Embūte Castle was built in the middle of the 13th century as residence for the Bishop of Courland. It came in the hands of the Livonian Order for a short period, but in the end of t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Embūte, Latvia

Salacgriva Castle Ruins

Salacgrīva was a medieval castle built in 1226 by the bishopric of Riga. The three-tower castle served as an outpost to control access to the port of Salaca. It was captured in 1391, burned in 1564 and again drastically damaged in 1575 by Russian and Tartar warriors who fought side by side with the troops of Duke Magnus of Holstein. In 1581, Salacgrīva castle was attacked by the Swedish troops of Commander Thom ...
Founded: 1226 | Location: Salacgrīva, Latvia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Castle Rushen

Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.

The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.

After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.

The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.

Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.