Cēsis Castle – a Livonian Knights' Medieval Fortress

Cēsu pils

Cēsis Castle was a significant foothold for the Teutonic 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.

In the castle's visitor center, guests can browse the 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.

I enjoy visiting old European castles and their ruins. Exploring them, I can feel the breath of centuries past; it's like traveling back in time. Cēsis Castle exudes charm and has a rich and dramatic history. It's also great that it's self-guided, allowing you to 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. A spectacular view opens up from the Western Tower's attic to the other side of the castle garden, park, and the entire Cēsis town.

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Cēsis Map

The Castle's Brief History

At the start of the 13th century, a small tribe living in the present-day town of Cēsis 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 Cēsis 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.

Cēsis Castle in Pictures

Latvian Castle
The Castle's inner walls

Latvian Castle
Remnants of the festive hall

Latvian Castle
The Castle's Northern (left) and Western Towers

Latvian Castle
A candlelit lantern in my friend Valdas' hand, in the Western Tower

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The Master room's vaulted ceiling inside the Western Tower

Latvian Castle
A view of the castle's park and Northern Tower

Latvian Castle
The park, with the Castle in the background

How to Get There

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

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

By Public Transportation

Train: Rīga – Cēsis 
Bus: Rīga – Cēsis

Open Hours & Ticket Prices

You can find information about the castle's hours of operation and ticket prices on the official website.

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

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

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