Cesis Stories and Tips

A Medieval Town with a Great Castle and Grounds!

Cesis is a small and quaint town in Northern Latvia with a specific flavour due to the majestic hill-fort, medieval buildings and the Gauja valley below. I visited it last spring on one of many Baltic trips and was rather impressed by it.

There is very little happening in the town itself but it is most certainly worth a day-trip and could perhaps be combined with a trip to Sigulda.

History
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The oldest building is the fortification on Riekstu hill which was first built by the Baltic tribe the Vends in the 12th century and can still be seen today even if it is a little hidden by the castle next to it which was built shortly after by the German invaders of the Livonian Order in the early 13th century. Cesis during this time was the capital of Livonia and acted as a major trade town between East and West and the castle was the residence of the Order's Master. In 1577 the castle was burnt by the garrison to keep Ivan the Terrible's mucky mits off it!

Cesis then changed hands like the rest of Livonia between Polish and Swedish, the castle was re-built during this time but was once again destroyed by the Russians during the The Great Northern War. In 1777 the castle became a private residence and beautiful grounds around it were built during the 19th century. After WW2 it became a national museum and now has a wonderfully peaceful feel to it.

Cesis is also home to Latvia's oldest brewery and story has it that Latvia's flag was born here as the king of the Letgal tribe was placed on a white flag which became stained red due to his wounds.

Getting There
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Cesis is 90km north east of Riga and it's about an hour and a half drive depending on the traffic leaving Riga. There are plenty of buses and trains between the two cities.

My final opinion
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As I said at the beginning, it's impressive and nice at the beginning but you could get bored here after a while and it's probably more of a day-trip than anything, saying that there are quite a lot of health spas in the neighbourhood which are often used for relaxing holidays. I think I was there on a Sunday and that might be the reason I thought the town itself was incredibly quiet.

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