Cesis, Gauja National Park, Latvia

Cesis, surrounded by Gauja National Park, is billed in Lonely Planet as the cutest town in Latvia. Boasting a picturesque castle, beautiful gardens and quaint streets, they may actually be right on this one. We first arrived late in the afternoon on a sparkling sunny day with puffy clouds. The city park was dazzling, the sunlight sparkling on the lake and dancing through trees just starting to show autumn color.

Walking around town there’s an interesting mix of building styles. Many old austere wooden structures begging for a flower box or some color. Although they could be considered drab they somehow have a certain charm. Even when we returned the following morning on a cloudy day, the streets still retained an alluring appeal.

St John’s Church

St John’s Church is currently under a badly needed face lift. Although it is still open to visitors there isn’t much to see.

Cesis Castle

The Cesis Castle is the town’s star attraction and outshines both the Sigulda and Turaida castles we visited the day before. In fact if you are short on time skip the Sigulda walking tour and come straight to Cesis.

The Cesis castle is really two castles, the 13th century castle ruins, in use until the 16th century, and the 18th century new castle.

Old Castle

The tour of the ruins is a fun exploration of a castle tower. There isn’t much too see in the tower, a couple of empty rooms, one with a video, and the view from the top through narrow arrow slot windows. They provide you with a candle lit lantern to light your way in the dark narrow stairwells, which is both charming and alarming after you watch the video that illustrates just how many fires they’ve had.

The rest of the grounds include a medieval garden, outbuildings with demonstrations of smithing and other period crafts, and models of building tools etc.

New Castle

The new castle museum combines rooms with historical displays and relics and period rooms showing the furnishing styles used during the residence’s tenor. The new castle tower passes two libraries on a circular staircase for an outside view overlooking Cesis.

September 25, 2019

For links to all the posts in this series see the Baltics Road Trip page.