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Sigulda is on a picturesque stretch of the primeval Gauja river valley. Because of the reddish Devoniansandstone which forms steep rocks and caves on both banks of the river, Sigulda has been called the “Switzerland of Vidzeme”.
The Gutmanis Cave lies halfway between Sigulda Castle and Turaida Castle and has a small stream flowing from it. It is the largest cave in the Baltics, measuring 19 m deep, 12 m wide and 10 m high. The cave still bears inscriptions from as early as the 17th century; drinking the water is supposed to be healthy and is said to increase one’s lifespan. From the cave it is possible to climb into the hills and take the cable car over the river valley.
Sigulda Medieval castle ruins are located on the edge of the Gauja valley. It was built in 1207 as a catellum type fortress and now encourages everyone to step back in time and enjoy the surroundings that bore witness to many historical events. It is possible to climb up the North Tower, the Main Gate Tower and enjoy the medieval aura.
Winter is no time to rest – Sigulda is a famous mountain skiing and snowboarding resort, offering slopes, elevators, equipment rent and overnights.
Kuldīga is one of the most charming and magical towns in Latvia which has preserved its medieval appearance and charm. Kuldiga is a small town 155 km westward from Riga. Its history dates back to the 13th century. The main attraction, apart from the medieval buildings and picturesque streets, is the waterfall, the widest in Europe. In spring and autumn, an interesting phenomenon can be observed at the waterfall as spawning fish try to get over the waterfall by jumping through the air.
On the way to Kuldiga, tourists witness beautiful sights – hills and valleys of Kurzeme, the part of Latvia situated in the West of the country. The region is also known for its wineries, the most Northern ones in Europe. For example, on the way to Kuldiga, a small town of Sabile boasts a winery, vineyards, and incredible views of surrounding nature.
Rundale castle is called no less than a Latvian Versailles. Built in the late 18th century by a famous Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, it was the home of the Duke of Courland Ernst Johann von Biron, a close friend of Russia’s empress Anna. A beautiful baroque building is surrounded by a classical French garden with roses, fountains and shady paths. Nowadays, the castle hosts a historical museum, where the frescos, furniture and cutlery from the days past have been gathered. The museum offers a wide collection of paintings and garments worn by nobleman and ladies of the court. This is also a place to hold triumphant balls, weddings and other pompous events, rent dresses and wigs of the era and absorb the festive atmosphere of the 18th century European manor.
The National park, occupying more than 90 ha of land, was established in 1793 to preserve the nature along the picturesque banks of the river Gauja. Walking along the trails, visitors can see wild animals – wild boars, roedeer, elks, and many more. Gauja is a great place for kayaking, and its banks are a hiker’s paradise. The steep waterside and the calm flow of the river create a relaxing feeling, combined with fresh air and bird songs. The nature in this region is remarkable, as it has been lovingly preserved in its green and abundance.
Some of the most beautiful and old towns stand along the Gauja stream. One of them is Cesis, a town first mentioned in chronicles in 1237. It still is home to a beautiful and quite well-preserved castle opened for visitors, old churches and incredible surrounding nature.