"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?

LOCATION Latvia, Koknese parish
BUILT 1209
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").     

PHOTOPLACES GALLERY #5: Koknese castle ruins, Latvia

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Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe. All content made by ⒸIkars Kublins. Contact me by e-mail: ikars.kublins@photoriga.com

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  1. Kas ir foto autors - Kokneses pilsdrupas?

    1. Labdien, visu šajā lapā publicēto fotogrāfiju autors esmu es. Sīkāku informāciju par lapu un tās autoru varat skatīt: https://www.photoplaces.eu/2018/08/what-is-photoplaceseu.html