Cēsis Castle

Top choice in Latvia

Cēsis Castle is actually two castles in one. The moody dark-stone towers belong to the increasingly restored old castle. Founded by Livonian knights in 1214, it was sacked by Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible in 1577. The newer castle, the stolid 18th-century manor house, was once inhabited by the dynasty of German counts von Sievers and now houses a museum that features original fin-de-siècle interiors. In summer there is a demonstration garden showing how people ate 500 years ago.

After visiting the castle, take a walk through the landscaped castle park. Nearby is the hilltop Russian Orthodox Church of Transfiguration, which the von Sievers built at their family cemetery (like many Germans on Russian service they converted to Orthodoxy).

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