Top 5 knight castles in Latvia

Latvia's knight castles: top 5 from a local resident

There are medieval castles scattered all over Latvia, built by crusaders of the Livonian Order or the Catholic Church. I live in Latvia and have traveled to many castles, so I will tell you about five of the most interesting ones, which now have museums and tourist infrastructure.

Almost all Latvian castles were abandoned in the Middle Ages, but are now being restored. Sometimes hotels and sanatoriums operate in the restored estates, some are open to tourists as museums. All castles on the list are very easily accessible: they are almost in the center of the cities, and you can reach them on foot while walking around the sights.

Sigulda Castle (Siguldas pils)

The sword castle, built back in the 13th century, is now full of sculptures, stores and craft workshops. At the same time, the area looks exquisitely abandoned: there are half-forgotten observation decks in the thickets near the cliff overlooking the national park, the picturesque Gauja Valley and the neighboring Turaida Castle. There is a cable car, bobsleigh track and ski slopes nearby.

  • Website
  • Works from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Tickets: full price 2 €, reduced price 1 €
View from the castle tower to the inner courtyard of the fortress
View from the castle tower to the inner courtyard of the fortress

Castle in Bauska (Bauskas pils)

The castle was built in the 15th century. According to legend, during the construction of the castle «sworn friends» — Lithuanians — broke into the castle, killed the architect and destroyed all his calculations. This did not prevent the castle from being completed: it was built according to copies of the drawings. But the master never found out about it. For five centuries his ghost has been climbing the wall every night to finish his work.

As in many castles, some of the towers are closed for restoration, while in others you will be greeted by staff in national costumes. Right inside the castle, a spacious inn is open: under the vaulted ceilings, sit on long benches at boarded tables and feast on national dishes. You only need to buy an entrance ticket to see the exhibitions in the castles.

  • Website
  • Open 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Tickets: full price 4 €, reduced price 2 €
Bauskas pils - Bauskas Castle
Bauskas pils — Bauskas Castle
This is a view of the new Bauska Castle - where the museum is located. And the medieval towers are further away
This is a view of the new Bauska Castle — where the museum is located. And the medieval towers are further away

Turaidas Castle (Turaidas pils)

This is the pearl of the Gauja National Park, the Bishop’s Castle, which was restored in the 1950s without much fuss: the towers and walls are made of the familiar Soviet red brick. A group of sculptures based on Latvian folk ballads is installed on the vast territory of the castle, and folklore festivals are held in summer.

Many centuries ago, when people believed in charms and knights never left home without a sword, the amazingly beautiful legend of the Turaida Rose was born here. A girl named Maya lived in the fortress, and several brave soldiers fought for her love. One of them kidnapped the beauty and hid in a cave near the castle, but could not enjoy the maiden’s beauty: not wanting to belong to the unloved, Maya offered the kidnapper to test the power of an enchanted jewelry around her neck. She assured him that no sword could cut off her head. The simple-minded soldier decided to test the power of the spell, and chopped off the brave girl with a single blow.

  • Website
  • Open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Tickets: full 3,5 € in winter and 6 € in summer, reduced 0,7 € in winter and 1,15 € in summer
Turaidas Castle (Turaidas pils)
Turaidas Castle (Turaidas pils)
Renovation of the large chandelier and fireplace in the tower
Renovation of the large chandelier and fireplace in the tower
View of the castle from the Dyne Valley
View of the castle from the Dyne Valley

Ventspils Castle (Ventspils pils)

This castle dates back to the 13th century, and it is one of the few fully preserved castle buildings in Latvia. Inside you can see creepy torture rooms, noble halls where Russian emperors stayed, and even a house church. The tower has an observation tube, through which you can get a detailed view of Ventspils port.

In the basement of the castle there are numerous passages that go far into the town, and one ends in the forest on the other side of the river. Legends say that a long time ago the devil tried to drag away the beautiful daughter of the castle keeper through this passage. Already at the very exit, in the forest, the girl’s arm was crushed by a huge stone, and the devil himself could not free her. Nothing more is known about the fate of the castle keeper’s daughter, but the boulder that killed her still lies in the forest and is shown to tourists.

  • Website
  • Open: from 10:00 to 18:00, day off — Monday
  • Tickets: full price 2,5 €, reduced price 1,5 €
The brickwork in the basement is well preserved. Here you can see that there is a ladder leading to the window
The brickwork in the basement is well preserved. Here you can see that there is a ladder leading to the window

Cesi Castle (Cesu pils)

A very original castle with restored craft workshops and apothecary’s kitchen garden. For a tour of the only functioning tower of the knight’s fortress, you are given a real medieval lantern so that you don’t have to illuminate the ancient walls with your smartphone.


The castle was captured several times by Russian troops: in the Livonian and Northern Wars. Therefore, the cunning owners of the fortress hid their numerous riches in underground tunnels that lead from the castle to safe places — farmsteads and churches. The treasure has not yet been found, and every traveler has a chance to get rich: the main thing to consider is that the crusaders left a big black dog to guard the treasure, and no one has managed to placate it yet.

  • Website
  • Open: from 10:00 to 16:00, day off — Monday
  • Tickets: full price 8 €, reduced price 4,5 €
A sample of brickwork in the tower floor slabs
A sample of brickwork in the tower floor slabs
And this is the knights
And this is the knights' restroom. With a window.

What else to do in Latvia:

Сигулда, Цесис, Вентспилс: что еще почитать