Bīriņi Palace was built by Riga architect Friedrich Wilhelm Hess between 1857 and 1860 for Baltic-German baron August von Pistohlkors. It has two floors with higher three floor risalit in the centre. All four corners of the building are adorned with towers - three of these towers are small, decorative but southwestern tower is larger. The palace is asymmetric as this was required by the rules of Neo-Gothic. It is surrounded by large landscape park. In the park there is the tomb of the von Pistohlkors family, although they were vandalised during the soviet period.
The interiors of the castle is done in Neo-Renaissance style with a wide entrance hall, balcony and double oak staircase featuring wood engravings. The dining hall has a molded wood ceiling and opens onto a terrace that descends to the lake. There is a richly decorated hall on the second floor of the palace with original light tile stoves.
Palace was rebuilt in the beginning of 20th century after the project of architect Rudolf Heinrich Zirkwitz. During these works facade was simplified, made less ornate. After the rebuilding in 1926 the palace was turned into health resort for employees of printing industry. Since this time up to 1995 there were various health resorts in the palace.
During the Soviet period the interior of the palace was adorned with paintings glorifying Soviet ideology. In 1994, the palace was rented and now it is a private property. Palace, buildings and landscape around it have been reconstructed since 1995, there being also a hotel in the palace.
Today the castle provides scenic parks, lakes, a manor house hotel, restaurant, rooms for weddings and seminars and a variety of activities among horse riding, cycling and boating.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.