Dating back to the 13th century, Old Sigulda Castle was originally built by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, a military order comprised of German “warrior monks.” The first stone fortification built in Latvia outside of Riga, it was designed to monitor the Gauja River running below the castle and to protect from the threat of invasion. The original castle building was rectangular shaped and made of dolomite blocks three meters thick, a small part of which still remains. In later years, a square shaped central column with an inner courtyard surrounded by three buildings was added. A three story high section of the central building remains today. In the 19th century, the ruins were fortified and two pseudo-gothic arches were added, together with a front gate.
Over the centuries, the castle changed hands numerous times and went through several stages of repair and restoration. It was reopened to visitors in 2012 and today it is possible to climb the North Tower and the Main Gate Tower. In the summer, the castle hosts performances and visitors can try their hands at archery.
The Old Castle is next to the New Castle in the town of Sigulda, not far outside of Riga. By train, the ride is about an hour and 15 minutes and costs less than five Euro roundtrip. By bus, it also takes about an hour and 15 minutes and costs 4-6 Euro roundtrip. The castle is a short walk or taxi ride from the main bus station.