Ruins in Latvia

Sigulda Castle Ruins

The Order of the Brothers of the Sword began building Sigulda castle in 1207. Initially, it was a castellum-type fort; following the defeat of the Brothers of the Sword in 1236, the Livonian Order modified it. During the Great Northern War, the castle was destroyed and never restored again. The south-west section of the convent building with Gothic window lintels and the main gate tower have survived to the present day.
Founded: 1207 | Location: Sigulda, 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

Ludza Castle Ruins

The first mention of the Ludza Castle dates from 1433 when the Livonian Order built a large and strong fortress to replace an earlier wooden fortress built by the ancient Latgalians. The Ludza stone castle had three stories, six towers, three gates and two foreparts. It was built as an outpost for the Livonian order, mainly to strengthen the eastern border of Livonia and guard trade routes from Russia. In 1481 the Russia ...
Founded: 1433 | Location: Ludza, Latvia

Koknese Castle Ruins

Before the arrival of the Teutonic Knights, Koknese was the site of a wooden hill fort inhabited by the Balts. In 1209 Bishop Albert of Riga ordered the construction of a stone castle at the site, naming it Kokenhusen. For the first 50 years of its existence, Koknese was solely used as a defensive fort, but by 1277, Koknese had enough population to receive city rights. Koknese also became a member of the Hanseatic League ...
Founded: 1209 | Location: Koknese, 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

Dobele Castle Ruins

The Livonian Order's stone castle is the oldest building in Dobele, and a national architectural monument. It was built on the site of an ancient Semigallian timber fortress from 1335 to 1339. A church was built and a park was laid out later. This land hosted a settlement of Dobele's most ancient inhabitants – the Semigallians as early as 1000 years B.C. Surrounded by the ancient town, there stood a timber fortress ...
Founded: 1335-1339 | Location: Dobele, 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

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

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

Rauna Castle Ruins

Rauna Castle ruins was the principal residence of the Archbishopric of Riga in which at for certain period each year it was visited the Archbishop with his entourage. The first mention of Rauna Castle date back to 1381, although historians agree that it may have been built here even earlier. 18th century sources mention the castle as being erected in 1262, following a proposal of Albert Suerbeer, Archbishop of Riga. It is ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Rauna, Latvia

Aizpute Castle Ruins

Aizpute castle was built in the 13th and 14th centuries by the Livonian Order. This was regular planned castella type Order’s Castle with corner tower and wooden buildings in the yard. In the 15th century outside at the ring-wall was built the eastern block. After the Livonian War (1558-1583) castle was not suitable for habitation and in written documents from 1555 it is mentioned as a grain storehouse. At the time ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Aizpute, Latvia

Ikskile Church Ruins

Canon Meinard of the Augustinian Order of Segeberg monastery in Holstein started to build a church in Ikskile in 1184. Until the foundation of Riga in 1201 the church was the seat of the Bishop of Livonia, thoroughly rebuilt from 1879 - 1881 and destroyed in 1916.
Founded: 1184 | Location: Ikšķile, 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

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

Aizkraukle Castle Ruins

Aizkraukle Castle (Ascheraden) is the ruins of a medieval castle, located on the right bank of the river Daugava. The castle was built in second half of 14th century by the Livonian Order. From 1334-1480 it was the seat of a Komtur. In 1559, Aizkraukle was seized by the Poles and in 1577 captured by the Russians. The castle was still standing in 1633, but was in ruins by 1680. Today there are seen remnants of fundament o ...
Founded: 1210-1220s | Location: Aizkraukle, 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

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

Rezekne Castle Ruins

Rēzekne Castle served as a base of the local Livonian order landlords until the 16th century and also as the main military support base for battles against Russians and Lithuanians. Archeological excavations reveal that between the 9th and 12th centuries a Latgalian wooden fortress was situated in the place where the castle ruins now stand. It is unknown when the Latgalian fortress was destroyed, however in 1285 the mast ...
Founded: 1285 | Location: Rēzekne, Latvia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.