The most interesting city of Bauska is located about 70 km from Riga, 45 km from Jelgava and 35 km from the border with Lithuania. Today it is a peaceful and cozy city in the midst of wonderful natural landscapes. Bauska boasts a long history, in which very significant figures of the Russian Empire left their mark. The city is still surrounded by numerous noble estates and beautiful natural places that still have traces of the great wars of the 16th-19th centuries.
But one of the most striking sights for which tourists travel to Bauska is the famous Rundale Palace. This palace (or, in German, Ruenthal Castle) was built in the village of Pilsrundale in the first half of the 18th century. The notorious Duke E. Biron, the favorite of the Empress Anna Ioannovna, became the customer of the amazing baroque complex. And the performer is the no less famous architect F. Rastrelli, to whom St. Petersburg owes a large share of its delightful baroque palaces and other sights. According to populationmonster, Bauska is one of the largest cities in Latvia.
Another amazing castle in the vicinity of Bauska is Mezhotnensky. This palace was built over the course of five years according to the project of an architect no less famous than Rastrelli, who built the Rundale Castle.
How to get there
Bauska is easily accessible by car or bus from Riga in just over an hour (buses depart hourly). Rundale Palace, which is located outside the city, will need to go about 12 km more (you can also take a bus).
Bauska was founded in the middle of the 15th century. knights of the Teutonic Order, and received city rights in part at the beginning of the 16th century, and in full – a century later. As it often happened, the history of the city began with the history of the castle, founded in 1456. The castle, alas, by no means impregnable, was taken first by the Swedish, then by the Russian troops, who actually destroyed it to the ground. The ruins of Bauska castle stood in such a deplorable state for several centuries and were only recently restored.
Entertainment and attractions in Bauska
The construction and decoration of the Rundale Castle dragged on for almost 30 years, but the result was an absolutely stunning palace and park ensemble. It is dominated by a monumental building of the palace with almost 140 rooms, and this magnificent building is surrounded by a vast park with a French-style landscaped garden, separated from it by a canal.
The interior of the palace was done by artists from Italy, who had already worked with F. Rastrelli on the capital’s Winter Palace.
The medieval castle, from which the history of the city began, today plays the role of one of the most striking tourist attractions in the city. It stands between two rivers, Musa and Memele, and was built primarily to protect against the Lithuanians. The structure that can be seen today between the two branches of the Lielupe River is a kind of hybrid of the ruins of the Livonian castle and a later Mannerist building erected in the 16th century. Now it is a very attractive and noticeable from a distance complex, completely renovated in the 1970s, on the territory of which there is a complex museum with several expositions.
Bauska church is beautiful and worth visiting. First of all – the Church of the Holy Spirit, built at the end of the 16th century. Inside the church there is a real museum: its ancient interior and the treasures stored here deserve such a title. In particular, in the church you can see about a dozen gravestones of the 16th-17th centuries, beautiful carved wooden benches with paintings created in the 17th-18th centuries, an altar image of the second half of the 19th century. The oldest depicted coat of arms of Bauska is located in the same church, which was carved on one of the parish benches in 1640. Another interesting city church is an Orthodox church built at the end of the 19th century. architect Y. Bauman. The original exterior of the church has only partially survived to this day, but even in this form, with a high bell tower and contrasting white and red trim, it looks very interesting.
The Bauska Museum is not numerous, but they have something to surprise the inquisitive traveler. In the Bauska Museum, which is dedicated to the history of the city mainly in the 20th century, the departments that tell about individual ethnic groups that lived in the city and the history of their relationship, in particular, about the Jews and Germans of Bauska, deserve attention. A charming collection of toys and dolls softens the impression. Another interesting city museum is dedicated to ancient transport. In the Motor Museum (a branch of the Riga museum of the same name), you can see not only historical passenger cars produced in the USSR in the 20th century, but also samples of special equipment and personal vehicles of several prominent historical characters.
An interesting attraction is located on the street. Kaleyu: This is a massive stone with an interesting legend associated with it. It says that during the Northern War, this stone was used as a table for the meal of two emperors: Peter I and the Polish autocrat Augustus. Having dined, two great men supposedly put their silver spoons under the cobblestone.
The most controversial landmark of Bauska, the appearance of which in the city caused a huge public outcry, is the monument to the Latvian units of the SS troops, installed in 2012. It became the first and so far the only monument in honor of the SS in the country. As the inscription on the monument says, it is dedicated to those who defended the city from Soviet occupation. An official protest against such a monument was expressed by Russia, Belarus and Israel. It is worth noting that the installation of the monument was not the initiative of the city authorities: the funds for this were donated by private individuals, as well as by an organization of veterans.
Bauska Nature Park starts right in the city, at the medieval castle, and stretches further along the river, covering an area of more than 1000 hectares. Along it, along the river bank, a path for pedestrians has been laid, along which you can take a wonderful walk, admiring the wooded landscapes.
Surroundings of Bauska
Another amazing castle in the vicinity of Bauska is Mezhotnensky. It is located about 11 km from the city and is a stunning classic residence in the middle of a beautiful English landscape park. This palace was erected for five years according to the sketch of a no less famous architect (who also “marked” himself in imperial St. Petersburg) than Rastrelli, who built the Rundale Castle. The creator of the palace in Mezotne was the famous Italian Quarenghi.