Krustpils Castle (Kreutzburg) is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Latvia. The first written reference of the Krustpils dates from 1237, when the Archbishop of Riga built a castle named Kreutz. In 1359, the Livonian order took seven castles belonging to the Riga Archbishopric, being Krustpils among them. During the Livonian war in 1559 the castle was devastated.
When the Livonian state was dissolved, Krustpils became property of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1561 to 1772, while the opposite Jēkabpils was part of the Duchy of Courland and Zemgale. The difference between the Latgalian language and the Selonian dialect of the inhabitants on either side of the Daugava River remains as of today. In 1585,Stephen Báthory of Poland granted a large area which included Krustpils to general Nikolai von Korff, whose family owned the castle until the Latvian agrarian reforms of 1920 came into effect. As Krustpils castle became a residence of landlords, it gradually lost its medieval character.
In the 18th century the castle got a representative look when Baroque elements were added to exterior of the castle. At the time of the Russo-Turkish War from 1877 to 1878, there was a camp for Turkish prisoners of war, many of whom settled here permanently.
Krustpils castle together with other buildings of this complex was transferred to the Latvian army after 1920 and the Latgale artillery regiment was located there. During the Second World War infirmary of the German army was located there. The Military hospital of the Red Army was placed to Krustpils after August 1944.
During the Soviet times regiments of Soviet army were located in the castle such as the 16th regiment of long-range intelligence aviation and main storehouses of the 15th air regiment. For 50 years the premises were not managed and were close to be considered as ruins. After 1991 there has been ongoing active investigation and renewal of the castle.References:
From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.
Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.
In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.
Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.