Showing posts from January, 2021

Castles of Latvia - Sigulda Pils

Sigulda Pils  Similar to last week's castle that we explored, this castle sits in ruins today. Sigulda Pils, located in the city of Sigulda, is northeast of Riga.  Built in 1207, this fortress was constructed on the edge of a precipice overlooking the Guaja River by the Brothers of the Sword, part of the Livonian Order.  Entrance Tower As we approached the reconstructed entrance tower, we were in awe of the sheer size of it. How could walls this large be built in the early 1200s? They didn't have the equipment we do back then.  Drawing of original castle The original castle was quite large, as seen in the sketch to the left. The church was the main building inside the walls.  It was interesting to see what the reconstructed fortress wall looked like on the inside. The soldiers had the different levels to protect the land side of the fortress, shooting through the small access windows.  Reconstructed wall    Chapel wall Notice the tiny holes in the outside wall for defense in th

Castles of Latvia - Cesis Pils

Cesis Castle Since we are in CCP virus lockdown here, I have to take you on a tour of Latvian castles that we visited last summer. The only thing I've seen in the last month is the inside of my apartment or grocery store, neither of which you want to see.   The first castle I'd like to show you is in the town of Cesis. The pils (the word castle in Latvian) sits on a small hill surrounded by the city which, of course, grew up around the castle.  Model of the castle Most of the castle today is ruins. It was first constructed of stone around 1209, so it's been around a very long time. When it was completed, it became the seat of the Livonians. The Master of the Livonian Order used it as his residence from 1239 to 1561. The Livonians were the rulers of the territory known as Latvia today. Altar in the ruins The ruins sit in a beautiful park now. We wandered around the grounds of the old castle and came upon an ancient altar that was used in the castle hundreds of years ago. My

Honoring Covid -19 Healthcare Workers

Healthcare Statue   Many things in Riga have changed since last March when the Chinese virus descended on the world. One lasting thing will be a 20-foot statue that now adorns the lawn in front of the National Latvian Art Museum.  This statue, dedicated way back in June of last year,   appeared as a way to thank the healthcare workers for their untiring work in the hospitals. The woman, wearing a lab coat, gloves and a face mask, has her hands out in service.  National Latvian Art Museum Sculptor Aigars Birkse created the artwork, along with the European League of Institutes of the Arts. They said this statue   “is dedicated to medics in Latvia and around the world, praising their selfless courage and care during the Covid-19 outbreak.” Museum in background At that time, Latvia had not been affected by the coronavirus very much at all. During the summer, life in Old Town Riga was pretty normal, except for the lack of tourists since the borders were closed.  However, since November, Lat

A Foxy Tale

A unique sighting Last week we discovered something unique to Riga. We looked into a rumor of a building with a fox sculpture attached. When we located the building, we were surprised to see how large this fox actually was.  As you can see by the picture on the left, it's several times my size. It's standing on a portion of a building but crawling down toward the ground.  There wasn't much of an explanation as to why this particular animal was built in this particular location. Well, there was a sign posted on the wall, but it was written in Russian and Latvian, so I couldn't read a word of it.  Building next to the fox  The neighborhood where we found it wasn't very memorable. In fact, it was rather run down, like many old Soviet neighborhoods are in Riga.  Old Soviet buildings None of the surroundings explained why the fox was located there. Just down the street, we spotted a tall Soviet era building that is known in Riga as "Stalin's birthday cake."