Turaida Museum Reserve

Turaida Museum Reserve information

Sigulda , Latvia
Address
Street Turaidas iela 10
Telephone
+371 6797 1402
More information
www.turaida-muzejs.lv
Prices
admission 3Ls
Opening hours
10am-6pm May-Oct, to 5pm Nov-Apr
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Lonely Planet review

The centrepiece of Sigulda’s Turaida Museum Reserve is the stunning Turaida Castle , a red-brick archbishop’s castle founded in 1214 on the site of a Liv stronghold. It’s no surprise that Turaida means ‘God’s Garden’ in ancient Livonian; the castle’s position on an enviable knoll is nothing short of a fairy tale. A museum inside the castle’s 15th-century granary offers a rather interesting account of the Livonian state from 1319 to 1561, and additional exhibitions can be viewed in the 42m-high Donjon Tower , and the castle’s western and southern towers.

The rest of the reserve features a variety of houses that have been transformed into small galleries and exhibits. It’s worth stopping by the smith house where you can try forging metal. There is a real blacksmith on hand who rents out the space from the reserve – he sells his crafts, and guests can try pounding Liv pagan symbols into small chunks of iron. As you make your way to the castle, don’t forget to pay your respects to ill-fated Maija Roze at her onyx headstone, which bears the inscription ‘Turaidas Roze 1601–1620’. The hillside behind her tombstone is known as Daina Hill (Dainu kalns) and shelters the Daina Hill Song Garden . The daina (poetic folk song) is a major Latvian tradition, and the hillside is dotted with sculptures dedicated to epic Latvian heroes immortalised in the dainas . These sculptures were actually created during the communist times, and in order to create these distinctly Latvian pieces, the sculptors had to make one item dedicated to the Soviet regime – it’s the sculpture of a strong man.