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Baltic States

Sigulda

Sigulda, a town in the Vidzeme Region, is situated in the most picturesque part of the primeval Gauja valley. Reddish devon sandstone forms steep rocks and caves on both banks of the river. Because of this, since time immemorial Sigulda has been called the Switzerland of Vidzeme.

After restoration of Latvia’s independence, Sigulda has also experienced great changes both in conservation of public monuments and parks and in improving service to tourists. Supported by the Town Council, a traditional Opera Music Festival takes place in the open-air music hall in the castle ruins each summer. When bird – cherry trees blossom in May, the Town festival is celebrated. In winter, visitors to Sigulda can enjoy skiing or watching races at the luge and bobsled track. In autumn the tall old trees make a wonderful show of a brilliant colours. Sigulda with its heritage of extraordinary natural beauty and antiquity provides indelible impressions in any season.

Turaida muzeum reserve

The Turaida Museum Reserve is located on a site where the Livs of the Gauja valley lived 1.000 years ago. They had a wooden castle and port here. The reserve is the only specially protected cultural monument in Latvia, and it is 45 hectares in size. In 1212, the German Crusaders burned the wooden castle, and a medieval brick castle was put instead . It was owned by the archbishops of Riga between 1214 and 1566. Today the restored castle features exhibitions which speak to the unique role which Turaida has played in the cultural history of Latvia. Archaeological digs are continuing around the church, as is restoration work. Visitors can look at one of the oldest rural churches in Vidzeme ( it dates back to 1750 ). The cementary that is alongside the church contains the grave of the legendary Rose of Turaida ( 1601 – 1620). On “Folk Song Hill” and in “Song Garden” , one can see stone sculptures by Indulis Ranka which speak to the mentality of the Latvian nation, rooted in nature and folklore. The historical Turaida baronial estate is being restored. A blacksmith’s shop is back in operation, and fish are being bred in the local ponds. The museum reserve is a major cultural center in Latvia, hosting folklore festivals, a traditional museum celebration in May, a rose festival in July, the “Golden leaves” festival in the autumn, and various Christmas events before the turn of the year.