Sunday, September 6, 2020

Castles in Lielvārde Latvia


Lielvārde is a little town along the Daugava River about an hour drive southeast of Riga. They have a reconstruction of a wooden castle similar to the one in Tērvete. There's no need to choose a favorite between them since they're both fun to explore. There's a castle ruin on the other side of town in the manor complex. The nice park grounds around it with huge carved poles are a great place to stroll around. Finally, there's a named waterfall listed on their tourist board. If you're not interested in the castles then skip to the end to see that amazing wonder.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Castle Of The Livonian Order In Sigulda

Siguldas Viduslaiku pils (Castle Of The Livonian Order In Sigulda) is a great place to hang out. The castle compound has some interesting shops, food, and ice cream. It's about an hour away from Riga by car. We took the train to Sigulda last summer and explored Turaida Castle, so see that post for another Sigulda tourist spot.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Daugavgrīvas Cietoksnis - Star Fortress

Daugavgrīvas Cietoksnis is a fortress originally built in the Swedish Livonia in the 17th century. There's more history at the link but the current structure is newer.

"The fortifications of the fort were completely rebuilt before the outbreak of the First World War. During World War I, the fort was bombed by German air forces. Soon the Germans took over the fortress, and in 1917, the German Emperor Wilhelm II personally inspected it. In 1940, the Soviet navy took over the fortress."

It's only open on the weekends but it's an interesting space to walk around and explore in Riga. It's across the river from old town and near the mouth of the river.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Jelgava Latvia

Jelgava is a Latvian city about an hour from Riga. The nice place to hangout in Jelgava is an island named Pasta salā. No, this has nothing to do with Italy since pasta means postal in Latvian. The Postal Island is the site for their annual sand sculptures in summer and ice sculptures in winter. We haven't been in winter yet but we'll do that this winter. There's a sculpture garden, restaurant, and a cafe with great treats to sit by the river.

Tērvetes Dabas Parks

Tērvetes dabas parks is a nature park but there's some really cool stuff in it which fully justifies the drive there and small price of admission. It's almost like some sort of natural theme park.

There are zip lines and climbing areas which seem to be popular across Latvia. There's also a tall observation tower which is another thing they like to build here in various places. The park has large paths which are easy for all ages and strollers. There's smaller more natural paths winding between the main roads to get a little closer to nature and see less people. Those can be challenging for strollers but some people were doing that too with their families.

The really unique thing about this park are all of the carvings and little buildings on the trails and in the various Gnome or Dwarf villages. We didn't even get to the other side of the park for the Fairytale Forest so we'll have to go back someday.

Tērvete Wooden Castle

I love castles! This is a really cool reconstruction of a 12th century wooden castle. It's a unique experience to wander around inside what they believed to be the fortification style of the Semigallians with some artifacts and some recreations in the museum. They were the Viking Age people of the region before the Kingdom of Livonia. There's a long rich history of Latvia to explore. This timeline link covers prehistory to modern Latvia.

This is across a street from the park where the original castle stood on a hill. We also hiked over there through the nice park so the rest of the pictures are of that area.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Klaipėda Lithuania

The final day of our road trip along the Latvian coast was to a city in Lithuania. Klaipėda is another coastal port city not too far over the southern border of Latvia. It looked like there were a lot of things to do around here, but this was another quick day and one night's stay before heading home. A whirlwind tour lets us cover lots of ground but misses some details. We choose to savour what we experience and follow instinct a bit instead of hitting every attraction on a top 10 list.

We found a brochure map marking the sculptures of Klaipėda including a sculpture park. We took a long walk to explore and see what the map revealed as a way to explore this city. The park was interesting and the old town was kind of cool. Riga's old town and abundance of Art Nouveau architecture is hard to beat in my opinion, but it's always interesting seeing other old towns in the area for comparison.