Bauska – Part 1

I have two posts for the town of Bauska – the castle of Bauska (you’ve seen the grand tree out front), actually: Old Bauska and New Bauska. Well, “New” Bauska, since the new castle still dates back to the 17th century, I think. Old Bauska is from the 15th century or so. Since WWII, when it was destroyed with the German retreat, both parts lay in ruins – reconstruction was begun in 2008, and as always, is done mostly by serious and seriously dedicated hobbyists. Strategically located on a peninsula between two rivers, it was geographically convenient for both defense and trade, and is now a wonderful place to spend an afternoon with overactive children, since the territory is perfect for some educational wandering, followed by rambunctious running around in the former park-slash-dendrarium.

We visited at the end of summer, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the tourist-friendly reconstruction – and even more, I was impressed by the craftsmanship that has gone into creating a historically informative experience.

But I think what stays in my memory the most is the amount of light these rooms get – a lot of movies with castles portray them as dark and smoky, with little natural light. Granted, this was summer, full sunlight, and nary a smoky torch to be found. In any case, have a look and bask in the light and craftsmanship of the new Bauska castle:

Courtyard, angle 1 – the brick towers in the background are the remnants of the old castle, saving that for part 2.
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Courtyard, angle 2. The staircase on the left is the entrance to the residential half, while the staircase on the other side leads to the kitchens (with cellars and storage below). When visiting, the entrance is in that corner directly across.
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Courtyard, angle 3 – this is the view from the residential staircase – you can see the old gate through the old castle wall. I pretended I was waving to my high-class guests while wearing a silk ballgown.
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Moving inside, this is the ballroom – see what I mean about the light? Gorgeous! Unfinished wood floor, too, it felt so warm and friendly.
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I loved the attention to detail – all the windows and their hinges were cleverly worked in metal – again, historically accurate and so, so beautiful.
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The reception room was tiled in authentically reconstructed glazed clay tiles (from archaeological excavations and research) – to be honest, I didn’t expect such vibrant colour and shine. Luxury!
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Apparently, also historically authentic – this creepy face on the wall was staring directly at the bed in the bedroom. If it’s a guardian angel, it’s of the stranger kind.
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Detail from an iron pavilion gate that was discovered during excavations of the old castle – a unique find for Latvia, if not the Baltics as a whole. It really spoke to the internationality of affairs that sometimes feels unlikely for the era.
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A view from the backside of the castle, a look into the location. The other side is similar, with a rather deep river canyon but a shallow, rocky river, and great views of the surrounding countryside and approaching enemies. Looking forward, about a half kilometre on, the two rivers combine into the great branched Lielupe (which literally means… ‘Great River’), which then flows into the sea near Jūrmala (a city named ‘Beach’… creativity, you have no bounds).
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Part two will be a brief look into the old castle part, mostly photos of broken brick walls. But old brick walls. It’s quite thrilling!



  1. kestrel says

    What an amazing place. I’m glad people thought it worth restoring -- it’s very interesting. I’m intrigued by the windows that are set in to the roofs. That must be really nice on the inside…

  2. rq says

    the modern Philips headed screws

    “Historically accurate, except for the screws.” Yeah, I’m a bit curious about how those got in there, because the usual rules for a historical reconstruction are pretty strict. Eh. From a distance, it wasn’t too noticeable. I spent more time examining the metalwork around the screws.

  3. says

    Oh those tiles. I love them.
    As for “new” and “old”: The town here to which the smaller villages belong is called “Newchurch” (though many people mistake it for “nine churches”). It dates back to the 13th century. But it’s “Newchurch” because the village I originally come from dates back to the 7th century and had the older church…

  4. voyager says

    The ballroom is amazing. I can imagine the lords and ladies dancing. The iron gate puzzles me, though. I think it looks oriental in design.

  5. Ice Swimmer says

    It’s great that the restoration is being done after. It’s wonderful looking place.

    As for the new places, in Finland the town Uusikaupunki (New Town/City) was founded in 1617 and it’s the 12th oldest of Finnish towns and cities (more than 100 municipalities call themselves a kaupunki i.e. town or city now). Uusikaupunki is often called Uki (or Ugi, in the local dialect k is close to g) by people who live nearby.

  6. rq says

    I think we can all agree that newness is very relative. :D

    It just may be, as there was a lot of international trade at that time -- Livonia had ties to many of the great powers of Europe, as did the later Duchy of Courland, and the Baltic region has always been a trade highway of sorts. It’s certainly not a traditional design, but I’m not surprised to see something like it end up here, one way or another. Globalization is a very old game. :D

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