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Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.


"What an interesting place to build a medieval castle - in a narrow peninsula at the lake" - a foreigner may think when first time seeing Koknese castle ruins. Actually he would be misled. Firstly, the waters surrounding the castle ruins isn't a lake - it's Latvia's largest river Daugava (called also the "river of fate"). Secondly, the castle ruins weren't always like this - in front of the water. Just around half century ago they were on the top of a high hill - just like almost any other "normal" medieval castles/castle ruins. So, what's happened before those ~50 years?

MAIN FACTS
LOCATION Latvia, Koknese parish
ARCHITECTURE Gothic
BUILT 1209
ABANDONED 1701
RATING (8,3/10)

The rise and fall of Koknese castle

Koknese castle was one of the first and most important fortresses of crusader invaders - it was started to build by Bishop Albert already in 1209, so just a bit after the Riga castle. Koknese back then was an important trading city - a bit later it also became a member of Hanseatic League. Koknese castle turned into a hot spot of neverending power struggle between Riga Archbishops and Livonian Order - the Order several times overtook the castle and locked in the Archbishop and here. The eclipse of the castle (and also of Koknese town itself) started at the end of 17th Century, after the Polish-Swedish wars when the castle were conquered several times. Finally, in 1701, the two of five towers of the castle were blown up by Saxons who left the castle after their army lost the battle against Swedes in Spilve meadows (next to Riga). Since then the castle is uninhabited. It became a popular tourism object at the end of 19th Century. 

The attack of... engineering progress

Since the invention of electricity, the mighty flow of Daugava river was seen as the great source of energy. The first hydro electric power plant on it's water was built already in first independence time of Latvia - in 1930ies at Ķegums town. The Soviet power drawn up their own plans and in 1966 they built the second hydro electric power plant - Pļaviņas HES - at Aizkraukle town which is located some 10 km downstream from Koknese castle ruins. Pļaviņas HES is still the second most powerful hydro electric power plant in European Union and it's produced power lets Latvia to be one of the "greenest" (one of most provided by renewable energy resources) countries in EU - but sadly it's construction costed many beautiful natural and cultural values such as Daugava canyon and it's cliffs on the river banks. Koknese castle ruins barely escaped the flooding - the water level rised more than 30 metres here and stopped right at the bottom of the ruins. However, the foundations of the castle were flooded and the water started to rinse them out. That's why the underwater conservation works were started here in 90ies - the foundations were strengthened with reinforced concrete. 

Charmful place still today 

Nowadays Koknese castle ruins functions as one of the popular tourist destinations in Latvia. The beautiful landscape around the castle ruins attracts water travelers and the castle ruins is also a popular spot for wedding photo sessions. Just around kilometer farther there is being gradually developed a new, large, symbolic park of national importance on the island of Daugava - called "Likteņdārzs" ("The Garden of Fate").     

Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
A fire of Notre Dame De Paris cathedral on the evening of 15th April 2019, showed how important a famous landmark can be - millions of people followed the unfolding event, world's largest television networks translated uninterrupted reportage for hours. Of course, it was sad to see this beautiful cathedral burning, especially the moment when it's spire fell down... Here a photo from this year's February - Notre Dame from Montparnasse tower, touched by the evening sunlight rays. I wish it to recover (by reconstruction) as fast as possible!
Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
Small Liepa village, located between Cesis and Valmiera towns, could be named as the "capital of cliffs in Latvia". There is not only the easily approachable, well known and interesting cliffs of Liela Ellite (Lielā Ellīte) but a few kilometers further also probably most diverse, unusual and one of the most impressive looking cliffs in Latvia - Licu-Langu cliffs.
MAIN FACTS
LOCATION Latvia, Priekuli county
HEIGHT 30 M
LENGTH 1000 M
CLIFF TYPE Sandstone
AGE 300 MIO YEARS
RATING (8,2/10)

A walk in the forest

Most cliffs in Latvia are exposed right at the river banks but Licu-Langu cliffs hides inside the forest, about half kilometer away from the Gauja river. In order to reach Licu-Langu cliffs, one has to take about 2 km walk from car parking place in Liepa village. At first the path leads alongside the industrial area of Lode brick factory - this area is interesting and worth-to-see for itself due to unusually colored soil of it's quarry. Then one has to walk through the forest, following the signs, later going downhill (steps are installed there). Below there is a nature trail which leads alongside the cliffs - they're not only in one place but stretched in about a kilometer long distance. This is a beautiful place for active leisure in nature. It requires some physical strength but at the same time it's not too hard - the place has became quite popular and it's not a wild walk anymore, the path is built and it's walkable for an average tourist.

Photographer's dream

Visually Licu-Langu cliffs, as it seems, could fit to everyone's taste. For those whom the scale is the most important thing, they offers until 30 metres high, sleek "walls". For those who enjoys complex and unusual structures, they reveals peculiar ravines, caves, niches, saliences... It's a photographers paradise which offers countless creative options to frame and compose. No wonder that also professional photographers have started to use this place as a setting for their model photo sessions. It's interesting that adventurous people have visited the cliffs long time ago, and exactly like today's visitors, have left their inscriptions on them. In contrast to inscriptions of later times, the oldest ones which are dated with year 1841 are considered to be historically valuable and preservable.

Caves - beautiful but dangerous 

Interesting geological processes are also going on here. The caves and ravines in Licu-Langu cliffs are created by many sources which flows through the cliffs. These springs are very rich with iron and other minerals, and some of the (lower) caves has very interesting colors inside. However it's dangerous to visit them because the caves are unstable - one has already collapsed due to erosion processes.  

Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.


Photo gallery of Bauska, a historical town at the mouth of three rivers, located in southern Latvia, 60 km from Riga. It's main attraction (apart from the unique nature setting) is medieval/renaissance castle, located on a hillfort on the peninsula between Musa and Memele rivers. There is also an Old Town, located at the town's lower part (down hill) with wooden and masonry buildings from 17th-19th Century. Townhall building has been rebuilt in 2011.

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