Rundāle Palace is one of the two major baroque palaces built for the Dukes of Courland in what is now Latvia, the other being Jelgava Palace. The palace was built in two periods, from 1736 until 1740 and from 1764 until 1768. It was constructed to a design by Bartolomeo Rastrelli as a summer residence of Ernst Johann von Biron, the Duke of Courland. Following Biron's fall from grace, the palace stood empty until the 1760s, when Rastrelli returned to complete its interior decoration.

After Duchy of Courland and Semigallia was absorbed by the Russian Empire in 1795, Catherine the Great presented the palace to Count Valerian Zubov, the youngest brother of her lover, Prince Platon Zubov. He spent his declining years there after the death of Valerian Zubov in 1804. His young widow, Thekla Walentinowicz, a local landowner's daughter, remarried Count Shuvalov, thus bringing the palace to the Shuvalov family, with whom it remained until the German occupation in World War I when the German army established a hospital and a commandant's office there.

The palace suffered serious damage in 1919 during the Latvian War of Independence. In 1920, part of the premises were occupied by the local school. In 1933, Rundāle Palace was taken over by the State History Museum of Latvia. It was dealt a serious blow after World War II, when the grain storehouse was set up in the premises and later, the former duke's dining room was transformed into the school's gymnasium. Only in 1972 was a permanent Rundāle Palace Museum established.

The palace is one of the major tourist destinations in Latvia. It is also used for the accommodation of notable guests, such as the leaders of foreign nations. The palace and the surrounding gardens are now a museum.

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Details

Founded: 1736-1768
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Latvia
Historical period: Part of the Russian Empire (Latvia)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

ieva Ramanauskaite (2 years ago)
Great tourist attraction. Loads of rooms to visit in the castle. The food and the service in the cafe downstairs was great. Will come back in the summer to visit the gardens.
JC Trouboul (2 years ago)
Great Palace! Friendly staff and quiet place. It's like Versailles but you can enjoy without crowds. Love it!
Alex Cox (2 years ago)
Middle of nowhere to grand Palace. Beautiful both inside and out. Good food available. Make sure to visit the gardens.
Lorna Myers (2 years ago)
This is a beautiful jewel of a palace lovingly restored from its state of abandonment during the Soviet era (which included using it as a school and transforming the amazing dining room into a GYM of all things), to what it is now again. Our guide spoke perfect English and was most informative. Definitely take the time to stop by and visit.
Kathrin Dörr (2 years ago)
Super pretty castle! The staff is amazing and friendly and the guided tours are informational and interesting. There weren't too many visitors so we could really enjoy our stay. I'm still impressed, definitely would recommend!
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