Turaida Museum Reservoir
The Turaida Museum Reservoir is about an hour by car or train from Riga. Besides a castle there are gardens and a cave to explore.
I just found out that I don’t really blog about castles and palaces. But I really love them. And so I decided to write about this day trip from Riga. After about an hour by car we reached the Turaida Museum Reservoir (entrance fee: 5€, student discount available, from 2015). Besides the castle which is the main attraction the big garden can be explored. Atypically for Latvia this place is quite hilly. By the way Turaida comes from the Livonian language (dead language of the Livs) and means “garden of Thor”.
This place is interesting for those who wish to have a relaxing day trip because there are no long distances and many opportunities to sit down and enjoy the surrounding. So relaxing that I forgot to take pictures.
The reservoir’s highlight is the castle Turaida which also contains a little museum. I found it quite interesting that many documents in Latvian castles are written in German. The reason for that is that parts of Latvia have been conquered by the German order.
The construction for the castle started in 1214. It’s mainly build of red brick making it very beautiful. (I love old brick buildings). After a big fire in the late 18th century the castle was abandoned. There are many legends about the time in between and the most famous one is about the rose of Turaida (Latvian: Turaidas roze). But it’s not an actual rose but a metaphor for a beautiful woman with the name Maija. She have been in love with Viktor but unfortunately they’ve had a hard time. Because of the war some polish officer were visiting the city. By a fake letter from Viktor they decoyed Maija to the Gutmann’s cave. I leave the reason why to your imagination. After reaching the cave Maija realized the trick and tried to save her honour by claiming to own a magical scarf. This scarf should prevent her from getting hurt. This of course wasn’t true, so she got killed when the officers tried out. The fake letter became Viktor’s fate as it was found in Maija’s pocket and he was found guilty killing her. Luckily the officers confessed and saved him from death.
The Gutmann’s cave is very close and can be visited for free. The wall contains many initials from lovers over a few centuries. If you intend to stay after visiting the reservoir it is possible to hike or visit the city of Silgulda.
I really enjoyed this day trip, it’s a good combination of Latvian history and nature and not too far from Riga.