Cesis Castle: A Livonian Knights' Medieval Fortress

Cēsu pils

Cesis Castle was a stronghold for the Livonian Order in the Baltics during the Middle Ages. Today, the site is one of Latvia's most impressive and well-preserved ruins, attracting many visitors with its romantic medieval architecture.

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In the castle's visitor center, guests can browse maps and explore the mighty castle ruins, the Master's living room with its unique 16th-century interiors, and the garden that provided vegetables and spices for the medieval kitchen. They can also learn about ancient crafts.

Cesis Castle in Latvia exudes charm and has a rich and dramatic history. It's also great that it's self-guided, and you can go at your own pace. In the castle, there is a lot of reading and information. You even get a candlelit lantern when you tour the castle because some areas are pretty dark. From the attic of the Western Tower, a spectacular view of the castle garden, park, and the entire Cesis town opens up.

I enjoy visiting old European castles and their ruins. Exploring them, I can feel the breath of centuries gone by; it's like traveling back in time.

Cesis Castle in Pictures

Latvian Castle
The castle's inner walls

Latvian Castle
Remnants of the festive hall

Latvian Castle
Northern (left) and Western Towers

Latvian Castle
My friend holds a candlelit lantern in the Western Tower staircase

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The Master room's vaulted ceiling inside the Western Tower

Latvian Castle
The castle park and the Northern Tower as seen from the Western Tower

Latvian Castle
The castle's park

The Castle's Brief History

At the start of the 13th century, a small tribe living in the present-day town of Cesis converted to Christianity and became allies of the Livonian Crusades. The 1210s saw the construction of the stone fortress. Initially, it was the residence of the Knights of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. A bit later, in the 1240s, after reconstruction, it became one of the largest and mightiest castles of the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order. Wolter von Plettenberg, Master of the Livonian Order, reigned over the castle during its golden age in the first half of the 16th century. He constructed round artillery towers, a network of outer baileys, and minted coins within their walls.

Throughout the centuries, the castle and the town of Cesis suffered in battles with Russian, Polish, and Swedish forces. Its fortifications almost fell during the Livonian War at the start of the 16th century. The structure also sustained damage during the Northern War in 1703. The ideas of Romanticism in the 19th century sparked public interest in the castle as a historical witness, resulting in its conservation and study.

How to Get There

Cesis lies in the Gauja National Park, the northern part of Vidzeme Heights. It's only 90 kilometers (56 miles) northeast of Riga, the capital. The town's bus and railway station is about a 10-minute walk from Cesis Castle.

Address: Pils laukums 11, Cēsis, Cēsu pilsēta, LV-4101, Latvia

By Public Transportation:

Train: Rīga – Cēsis 
Bus: Rīga – Cēsis

Where to Stay in Cesis

Booking.com offers a wide range of lodging options, various discounts, and exceptional customer service. For a list of places to stay in Cesis, click here.


From Riga: Cesis, Sigulda, and Turaida Private Day Trip

The Cesis, Sigulda, and Turaida Private Day Trip from Riga provides the opportunity to explore the medieval history of the Livonian Knights in Latvia, visit several fortresses, including Cesis Castle, and enjoy lunch at a local traditional restaurant.

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Have you ever visited Cesis Castle? If so, how was the experience? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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