Turaida Castle Latvia
Most visitors consider the Turaida stone castle
as the main dominance of the Museum Reserve and its visually the most impressive element. When looking down from a hot air balloon or in autumn eventide in the sunset from the opposite bank of the river Gauja in Sigulda, Turaida castle rises above green foliage of trees like a mighty ship built of red brick. Forepart of this imaginative ship is formed by the northern forecastle gate tower, the highest one of all its towers.
Building of the castle started in 1214 according to directions given by Albert, archbishop of Riga
in the place where in former times the wooden castle of Liv leader Kaupo was. The “Castellum” type fortress was built and named Fredeland what means “Land of Peace”. This name was not popular and the local name Turaida survived till today.
Perfection of the defensive system of the castle continued also in the next centuries – in 14th century a tower shaped southern section was built, in the beginning of 15th century, when fire arms were invented, the semi-rounded western tower was built. Along with the formation of fortifications household buildings and living houses were erected in the inner yard of the castle. Small reconstruction work was carried out in 17th century though the castle loosed its strategical meaning. After a fire in 1776 it wasn't reconstructed and in the course of time it was ruined.
In the beginning of the 20th century only separate fragments of the defense wall and some buildings remained from Turaida castle. Since 1976 regular archaeological excavations were carried out which were followed by restoration and conservation works as a result castle regained a part of its first shape. Exhibitions about the history of the castle and Gauja Livs are available in restored buildings. From the view place of the main tower you can see the unique landscape of picturesque Gauja valley
and territory of Turaida Museum Reserve.