A fairy tale castle in the Latvian countryside

After spending our first night in the Latvian countryside we were up for seeing a bit more of what it offered. Venturing from our little wooden hut we became princesses trapped in our very own Rapunzel tower, saw the evidence of wildlife and spent less than 4 euros on lunch and dinner.

When you google Latvia, Cesis this is one of the places that it is recommended you visit. It isn’t too far from Riga and was about 15 minute drive from our lodge. We lucked out and managed to get parked up right next to the castle without needing to pay! Not that I actually saw any car parks where you would need to pay but we felt we had done well.

The castle foundations were laid 800 years ago by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword which was a catholic military order. The next owners were the Teutonic Order – more Catholics. The demise of the castle began during the Livonian War 1577 when Ivan the Terrible came to town. 300 people within the castle committed mass suicide by blowing themselves up!!! The castle finally fell into disuse after the Great Northern Way.

We found the entrance and paid for our tickets before being directed to pick up a lantern.

Yup, a lantern with a REAL CANDLE INSIDE!

It did mean that holding it was a little toasty and it left us a little confused about what we had got ourselves into. With the limited language we were told to head into the courtyard, through the ruins and into a tower.

The lantern was starting to make a bit more sense now.

We sheepishly made our way to the tower entrance. We followed another couple in so as not to be the first to make a wrong turn. In all honesty if we hadn’t seen them go inside we wouldn’t have known they were there. We could barely see our hands in front of our faces…even with the lanterns!

Making our way up the spiral staircase we took each step at a time, holding the lantern up for as much light as possible. It was just like being in a fairy tale. I for one felt like a total princess trapped inside my own tower, not sure how Stuart felt but we were both giggling on our way up.

Every now and then you would pass a window giving you a small glimpse to the outside world and the town of Cesis.


Eventually we made it to the top which gave us views over the whole town. The castle is undergoing a lot of restoration so there was a fair amount of scaffolding around. Part of the restoration was to essentially put a lid on the tower making it slightly taller than its original size but meant you could see the ruin of the top inside.

After winding our way back down the dark stairs we walked around the rest of the site. We were there during off season so it was pretty quiet. During holidays or weekends I imagine there is lots of demonstrations happening so would be great for kids.

In need of a coffee we tried out a coffee vending machine in the lobby of the castle which surprisingly was pretty good. Just next to the castle is a park so we took our coffee and had a rest (from all the lantern excitement obviously) in the park for a while. Watched some local kids dancing and riding mountain bikes.

There’s a small lake in the park which was walked around, again it is one of those places that would be better at a busier time. It was a fairly stagnant lake so smelt a bit but was pleasant.

We finished our time in Cesis with a walk to an abandoned brewery – such a shame they haven’t renovated it or turned it into ‘something’ – and stopped at a small shop to buy some food supplies. A handsome cost of just 4 euros!!!!!

If you’re looking for a budget destination the Latvian countryside is a good option. 

I can see why Cesis is on the list of places to visit in Latvia, it has a mystical air about it. I’d love to see what it is like during a busy period as it was super quiet while we were there and I could see the potential atmosphere of the place.

If you find yourself with some spare time and want to spend a couple of hours feeling like a princess yourself then I’d head to the castle and you’ll get just that!


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