Presentation of the destination
The Latvian city of Bauska did not really become a city until the 15th century. Before that, the area in and around what is now Bauska was inhabited only by tribes with little interest in building the vibrant city you can visit today.In fact, it was the arrival of Germans into the area that acted as the catalyst for Bauska’s growth. The construction of Bauska castle by the Germans led to the development of the city, which was given the status as such in 1609.The Germans who resided there were part of the Livonian Order of the Teutonic Order and following the Livonian War, the city was included in the Duchy of Courland.The city was a focal point during the Polish-Swedish War and the Great Northern War and during the 17th and 18th centuries and was often attacked by the Swedish and the Russians.The city you can see today still retains a great deal of elements from its history, as well as a number of interesting modern activities for tourists.
Points of interests / things to see
The Bauska Castle is arguably the most important historical site in all of Bauska. Given that the castle in Bauska led to the development of the city itself, it is unsurprising that it is one of the most highly-rated tourist destinations in the city.Sadly, due to the huge number of attacks suffered by the castle, the original Bauska Castle is little more than ruins. However, the adjacent palace was recently restored and stands as an impressive icon of Bauska’s history.The first parts of the castle were initially constructed between 1443 and 1456 by Teutonic Knights and the castle was constantly being built for around 200 years until the end of the 16th century.The castle at Bauska has many of the common features you expect from a castle such as a watch tower, drawbridge, prison, and a garrison.Once the Teutonic Order left the castle in 1562, Bauska Castle was the home of the Dukes of Courland who had another palace constructed in the 17th century until the Great Northern War when the castle and palace were destroyed and abandoned.Visitors can see the palace during the summer in addition to being able to explore the ruins of the castle. There are beautiful views from the top of the tower and there is also a museum to learn about the castle and palace as well as a café to sit, eat, and relax in.
Rundāle Palace is a fantastic baroque palace built in during the 18th century for the Dukes of Courland. Rundāle Palace can be found in Pilsrundāle, which is just twelve kilometres from the centre of Bauska and takes just around quarter of an hour to get to by car.The palace was constructed during two different time periods. The initial construction took place following the completion of Bartolomeo Rastrelli’s designs between 1736 and 1740. Rastrelli was a famous baroque architect whose other famous works include the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg and the Catherine Palace in what is now Pushkin.The palace’s second phase of construction took place between 1764 and 1768 and focused principally on the completion of the interior. The initial phase had left the palace undecorated and Rastrelli had returned later to complete it. This phase included a number of stucco decorations that had been completed by Johann Michael Graff, a German artist.The palace was heavily damaged during the Latvian War of Independence in 1919 and eventually ended up in the hands of the State History Museum of Latvia in 1933. The Second World War also had a detrimental effect on part of the palace and in 1972 it finally became the museum you can visit today.
The Town Hall in Bauska is another of the city’s wonderful historical sites and, unsurprisingly, has played a very important role throughout the Latvian city’s history. When it was built during the 17th century, it was the biggest town hall in the entire duchy and one of the biggest in the whole country.When Bauska gained its rights as a town in 1609 it took only 6 years before Duke Friedrich of Courland gave Bauska permission to construct its town hall. There was already a town council building that had been built during the 16th century which was expanded to meet the needs of Bauska and its new status.When the Town Hall was completed it came with a bell tower that was used to make alert the inhabitants of Bauska to any important events. Due to funding issues in the 19th century, the bell tower was deconstructed in 1852 as the council at the time could not afford the upkeep or the required renovations to keep the tower standing.Further financial issues meant that the building lost its second floor in 1871 as it was dismantled rather than renovated. Since then, no major architectural changes have taken place and the building you can witness today is just as it was over a century ago.
The Mežotne Palace is another of the important palaces in the region. The architecture of the palace follows the Classicism style and construction took place over four years at the turn of the 19th century between 1798 and 1802.Prior to the arrival of the palace in Mežotne, Semigallian tribes had held the area as a stronghold over a thousand years ago. Mežotne, much like Bauska, did not develop until much later. The first estates in the area sprung up around the 17th century and in 1795, Catherine II granted the estate to her grandchildren’s teacher who would become a countess just four years later in 1799.The palace was constructed to house a teacher and governess of some of Catherine II’s grandchildren. Giacomo Quarenghi and Johann Gottfried Adam Berlitz, two famous architects of the time, were tasked with completing the designs for Mežotne Palace.The palace stayed in the same family until 1920 and during the Second World War parts of the building were destroyed.The grounds around the palace at Mežotne are also stunning and the whole area was owned by the Lieven family until 2010. In 2001 reconstruction took place on the palace and parts of the building were converted into a magnificent hotel.
One of the most beautiful churches in Bauska is the Church of the Holy Spirit. This 16th century church was build between 1591 and 1594 and is the oldest building that has been preserved in all of Bauska.The Church of the Holy Spirit was initially constructed for the German congregation present in the area. The first manifestation of the church did not include a tower. A tower was later constructed in 1614 with the steeple and cupola being added by 1623.Following a storm in which the steeple was struck by lightning, the steeple was dismantled due to the damage sustained. Despite the Church of the Holy Spirit’s seemingly religious purpose, the church has also taken on an administrative role, having kept and preserved a large number of records relating to the city of Bauska.As well as the Church of the Holy Spirit’s large collection of records, the church also houses an impressive collection of fascinating and beautiful historical pieces that has been built up over the years. These pieces include the altar that was first made in 1699 before being reconstructed in 1861. The church also has a wonderful pulpit that was gifted by a Russian senator in 1795 before he later gifted the church the organ in 1766.
You would have to have a heart of ice not to love Trusu Pilsetina. The Trusu Pilsetina is essentially a rabbit village where guests of all ages can see over sixty different breeds of rabbit. The Trusu Pilsetina is the brainchild of a carpenter who crafted a settlement for rabbits using his own two hands. The project has culminated in collaborative efforts with rabbit experts in order to constantly expand the collection of rabbits on display.Trusu Pilsetina is a perfect destination for those visiting the Latvian city of Bauska with children. That is not to say that adults will not love it just as much as the kids.
One of the most fascinating museums in Bauska is not dedicated to historical events or art. The Bauska Machine Museum dedicates itself to the automotive industry and while it does include an element of history, it remains true to its purpose of presenting a fascinating narrative with the use of motor cars from both Latvia and the rest of the world. While the main focus of the museum is automotive, there are also displays of farm machinery as well as other technological machines that are used in everyday life.Even those without a keen interest in machinery should be swayed by the excellent staff at the museum who really help to bring the subject matter alive.
While the Tērvete Nature Park is a little further away from Bauska than other popular attractions, nature lovers will be rewarded for making the journey. The journey only takes around fifty minutes by car and the Tērvete Nature Park is an ideal destination for those with families and especially those with young children.One of the key features of Tērvete Nature Park is the way in which it blends the local nature with folklore and fairytales. In terms of nature, the park is home to over 70 varieties of endangered plant as well as protecting a variety birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
If the Tērvete Nature Park has you wanting to spend even more time in the great outdoors, then the Pokaini Forest should be the next destination on your itinerary. Though the forest is further from Bauska than the Tērvete Nature Park, it can still be reached in an hour and a half by car.The forest, like the trees within it, is firmly rooted in local folklore and spirituality. The forest is thought to be a potent source and centre of spiritual energy due to a number of stone formations. The nature that welcomes visitors to Pokaini Forest is as diverse as it is beautiful, allowing visitors to enjoy hills, valleys, and springs.
Vacation rentals in Bauska (Bauska Municipality)
How to get there ?
In order to reach Bauska from outside of Latvia, visitors will first have to make their way into the country. Those within the EU will be happy to know that Latvia upholds the Schengen Agreement and there are no border controls for those driving straight into Latvia. Sadly, those heading to Latvia from further afield will probably require flights to Latvia and these are subject to the somewhat unpopular customs checks.Riga International Airport is the only choice you have for flying into Latvia as it is the only airport in the country to offer commercial flights. Conveniently, the distance between Riga and Bauska is not huge and there are direct flights to Riga from many major European destinations as well as from North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australasia.In addition to large number of direct flights, there are a number of connecting flights from the larger hub airports in Europe meaning that Riga can be reached from almost any airport in the world.There are also trains that operate from both Moscow and Saint Petersburg to Riga meaning visitors from Russia can make their way to Bauska without flying.Once in Riga, the drive to Bauska takes just over an hour and there are hourly buses available from the capital to Bauska.
Hotels in Bauska (Bauska Municipality)