Alūksne is located on the shore of Lake Alūksne, and its original medieval castle (1342), now in ruins, was built on an island in this lake, now known as Pilssala (Castle Island). It was destroyed in 1702 during the Great Northern War. One of the towers of this castle has been restored and an entertainment area has been created among its ruins. Ezermalas Temple Hill Park is named because it once housed the Latgale Castle, and the Slava Temple is located over the remaining hill. The highest observation tower in Latvia is also located in this park, which offers a panoramic view of the lake and the city.
There are two castles in Aloksnia. Ezerkrast or Old Palace was a residential building built between 1793 and 1794 in the style of classical architecture. Little remodeling has been done since then. In 1932, during the first independent state of Latvia, there was a hospital there. Now it is the Alūksnes Art School and visits to the building must be booked in advance.
The old castle in Aloksne, Vidzeme, Latvia
Aloksny II Palace, the new palace, is located in the center of the city. Otto Hermann von Wettinghoff, a representative of an aristocratic family from the Baltic region, bought Aloksnia Castle in 1753. His descendant, Baron Alexander, built the castle between 1859 and 1864 in the English Gothic Revival style. It is surrounded by a manor park with some interesting small buildings, a lake and fountains. The castle was owned by the Wittinghof family until the land reform in 1920. In 1959, the Aloksnia Museum was established, where exhibitions illustrating the cultural and historical heritage of Aloksnia can be viewed. The second privately managed nature museum is the Environmental Labyrinth (Ecological Labyrinth).
The new castle in Alūksne, Vidzeme, Latvia
In the Middle Ages, Valmiera was a fortified town whose inhabitants lived within the walls of a wooden castle built in the 13th century. This castle was regularly rebuilt until eventually it was replaced by a stone castle.
This castle proved vulnerable to artillery and in the 17th century its walls were reinforced with earthen ramparts. However, it could not be saved and was destroyed during the Northern War in 1702. After the war, the townspeople plundered the stones of the castle to build their own buildings. Today, very little remains of the original stone castle. The story of Valmiera and its castle is connected with the Valmiera Museum. This museum occupies several buildings, including the new De Voldmeier Gallery, which extends over some 17th-century foundations.
Ancient Livonian castle ruins in Valmiera, Vidzeme, Latvia
Valmiera Museum is located in the historical center of the city. Behind the remains of the castle wall, visitors will find 12 buildings that tell the story of the city that was once a member of the Hanseatic League. Among them are Latvia’s oldest wooden building, an old pharmacy and a pizzeria located in another ancient wooden building. Cesis also has an ancient Livonian castle, which visitors can explore by torchlight.
The historical center of Valmiera is located in Vidzeme, Latvia