Presentation of the destination
Ikšķile is a town in Latvia with a population of 8,331 people. Ikšķile is the center of the municipality of the same name. Historically, Ikšķile was the first seat of the Catholic Bishopric of Livonia, which was a historical region that was around the shores of the Baltic Sea. During the time of the existence of the region of Livonia, Ikšķile was an important center for preparations for the Crusades. Within Latvia today, Ikšķile is one of the oldest populated counties as evidenced by an ancient burial area found in rural areas surrounding the town of Ikšķile. The area around the Daugava River around Ikšķile has had a village since the 9th to 12th centuries. The name of Ikšķile means “ford or islet” and is in reference to the fact that where the town lies, it is possible to cross the Daugava River. Ikšķile is close to the capital of Latvia, Riga, at a distance of 30 km (18 mi). Temperatures in Ikšķile reach their highs of 23°C (74°F) in the summer months. Winter lows drop to -4°C (24°F). The official language in Latvia is Latvian and majority of the population, 62%, identifies as being ethnic Latvian. The biggest minority group in the country is Russians, at 27% of the population. The currency used in the country is the Euro. Ikšķile is located in the time zone UTC +2.
Points of interests / things to see
The Freedom Monument is a memorial found in the Latvian capital of Riga, 30 km (18 mi) from Ikšķile. The memorial was built to honor the soldiers that were killed during the Latvian War of Independence which occurred from 1918 to 1920. The Latvian War of Independence was a conflict between Latvia and its allies versus the Russian SFSR and the Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic that had been established by the Bolsheviks. Today the monument also symbolizes the ideals of independence, freedom and the sovereignty of the country of Latvia. The monument was finished in 1935 and it stands at a height of 42 m (138 ft). It is made of copper, granite and travertine and to today it continues to be the center of public gatherings as well as official ceremonies that occur in Riga. Along the base of the monument are a number of sculptures and bas-reliefs that illustrate Latvian culture and history. The design for the memorial was chosen as the winner from a nation-wide contest that had been held to select a plan for the memorial that the prime minister wished to build. Later when the Soviets occupied Latvia starting in 1940, there were intentions to demolish the memorial but in the end they were never carried out and instead the Soviets tried to shift the message of the monument to better fit with their own ideology. The monument is located in the center of Riga near to a number of other attractions found in the city. Address: Brīvības bulvāris, Rīga
St. Peter’s Church is a Lutheran church found in Riga, 30 km (18 mi) from Ikšķile. First evidence for the existence of St. Peter’s Church was in documents dating to the year 1209. Luckily the church was built by masonry and was saved from damage by a fire in Riga of during that same year. The history of the church is often divided into three different time frames. The first part of the church to be built was the middle section which was built in the 13th century, the first period of history of the church. Unfortunately, not much from this first construction survives to this day and visitors can only see the remnants of the first building in the outer nave walls and a few remaining pillars found in the nave. The second phase of construction occurred between the years 1408 to 1409 when the sanctuary was built. Later work was delayed by the outbreak of the plague in 1420 and only continued afterwards in the 1430s. Other works continued on the church throughout the remainder of the century. And lastly, the third period of building the church, was from 1671-1690 when a new tower was built and some parts of the church were renovated. Visitors to the church today can enjoy the viewing platform located at a height of 72 m (236 ft) which provides stunning views of the city of Riga, the Daugava River and the harbor in the Gulf of Riga. St. Peter’s church is considered to be one of the most valuable as well as oldest examples of medieval architecture found in all the Baltic countries. Tours of the church are offered in Latvian and Russian. Art exhibits are also put on display at the church. Website: http://peterbaznica.riga.lv/en/news/ Email address: email@example.com, Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday September-May 10:00-18:00, June-August 10:00-19:00. Sundays September-May 12:00-18:00, June-August 12:00-19:00. Closed on Mondays. Entrance fees: Adults €7, Students €5
Rundāle Palace is a large baroque palace that was one of two palaces that were constructed for the Dukes of Courland. The palace was constructed in two different phases, from 1736 to 1740 and later from 1764 to 1768. The palace is located in Rundāle Municipality, about 80 km (50 mi) from Ikšķile. The Rundāle Palace was built as a summer palace for Ernst Johann von Biron, the then Duke of Courland. The palace was uninhabited for a few decades due to the Duke of Courland’s fall from grace. In 1795 the palace was acquired by the Russian Empire and the Rundāle Palace was given as a gift from Catherine the Great to Count Valerian Zubov, the youngest brother of one of her lovers, Prince Platon Zubov, who later spent the last few years of his life in the palace. During the First World War the German army set up a hospital in the palace as well as a commandant’s office. In the Latvian War of Independence in 1919, the house suffered extensive damage. It was also used as a school as well as a grain storehouse. In 1972 though, the Rundāle Palace Museum was set up. Today the palace is still used as a place of accommodation for notable guests, for example, the leaders of foreign countries. It is also one of the major tourist destinations within Latvia. Address: Rundāles pils muzejs, Pilsrundāle Website: http://rundale.net/en Phone number: +371 63 962 274 Opening hours: Open every day of the year. January-April 10:00-17:00. May and October daily 10:00-18:00. June, -September Museum 10:00-18:00, Garden 10:00-19:00. November and December 10:00-17:00. Entrance fees: Entrance fees depend on which route through the Palace and grounds visitors wish to take. More information on prices and tours can be found on their website.
Turaida Castle is found 60 km (37 mi) from Ikšķile. The castle is a reconstruction of a medieval castle and it stands along the Gauja River. The building of the castle began in the year 1214 under orders of Bishop Albert, the Archbishop of Riga, on a site where previously a wooden castle had stood. The castle was built out of red-brick, a common building material in the Baltic area. Throughout the years, additions were made to the defensive system of the castle including a tower that was built in the 14th century. Inside the walled area of the castle, various domestic buildings and living areas were created as well. Starting in the 17th century the castle started to lose some of it strategic value. When it caught fire in 1776, the castle was abandoned and fell into ruin. Starting in the 1970s, excavations were carried out around the castle and it was later restored and preserved. Today visitors to the castle can explore its restored ruins as well as see and learn a number of things about the history of the castle. Guided tours are available for an extra cost in English, Russian and German. The Turaida Castle is part of the larger Turaida Museum reserve which occupies a total area of 42 hectares (103 acres) and in addition to the castle, also includes the Folk Song Park, The Turaida Church Hill, the Turaida Estate and an exhibition on the cultural history of the Gauja Livs, who were an early ethnic group in Latvia. Address: Turaidas iela 10, Sigulda Website: http://www.turaida-muzejs.lv/?lang=en Phone number: +371 67 971 402 Opening hours: November- April 10:00-17:00; May-September 9:00-20:00. Entrance fees: Adults €4.98, Students €2.85, Pensioners €4.27
The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is found in Riga, 30 km (18 mi) from Ikšķile. The museum was founded in 1993 in order to display various artifacts and documents from the 51 years when Latvia was occupied by foreign powers: the Soviet Union in 1940, then Nazi Germany in 1941 and then again the Soviets in 1944. The museum’s aim is also to educate the public about this time period in Latvian history. They also want people to remember the victims of this time period as well as all the crimes that were committed against the people of Latvia during its occupation. The museum also serves to tell about opposition that existed against the regimes that occupied Latvia as well as how in 1991 the people of Latvia were able to regain their freedom. The building was built in 1971 at that time to celebrate the 100th birthday of Lenin and before 1991 and the fall of the Soviet Union, the building was used as the Museum of the Red Latvian Riflemen, who were Latvian regiments who had sided with the Bolsheviks and also helped to allow for Soviet Rule in Latvia in 1919. Address: Latviešu strēlnieku laukums 1, Centra rajons, Rīga Phone number: +371 67 212 715 Website: http://okupacijasmuzejs.lv/en Opening hours: May 1-September 30 Daily 11:00-18:00. Closed June 23 and 24. October 1-April 30 Tuesday to Sunday 11:00-17:00. Closed on Mondays. Closed December 24, 25, 31 and January 1. Entrance fees: By donation. Guided tours are available for a cost: 1-3 people €10, 4-10 people €3, more than 11 people €2.25.
The Daugava River passes near the town of Ikšķile and was important in the history of the town. The Daugava River starts in Russia then flows through Belarus, into Latvia and drains into the Gulf of Riga into the Baltic Sea. The Daugava River also serves as part of the border between the countries of Latvia and Belarus. The word in Latvian means “great water.” The river runs for a total of 1,020 km (630 mi). The area around Ikšķile was settled early on due to its location along the Daugava River and Ikšķile is one of the oldest populated areas in Latvia because of its location along the Daugava and its use of the river as a lifeline.
The Riga Zoo is located in Riga, which is found 30 km (18 mi) from Ikšķile. It is found along the shore of Lake Ķīšezers. The zoo is home to roughly 4,000 animals of approximately 500 different species. The zoo first opened in 1912 and at that time had 267 animals belonging to 88 different species. The zoo closed after Germany occupied Latvia and later it reopened in 1933. During the time of the Soviet Union, the zoo in Riga was considered to be one of the best zoos in the entire USSR. The staff of the zoo is involved in a number of research and conservation projects, such as monitoring owl migration and reintroducing the European tree frog back into the wild.
The Latvian National Museum of Art is found in two buildings in the capital of Latvia, Riga, at a distance of 30 km (18 mi) from Ikšķile. The museum has the best collection of national art of Latvia. There are more than 52,000 works that make up the museum’s collection that showcase the development of art in the Baltic area and specifically in Latvia. The works cover the time frame from the middle of the 18th century up to today. Part of the collection is also of Russian art dating from the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Website: http://www.lnmm.lv/en/lnmm/ Opening hours: Currently the museum is closed for restoration and should reopen in 2015. Entrance fees: Fees depend on what exhibitions you wish to visit. Consult their website for more information.
Gauja National Park is the biggest national park found in Latvia and covers an area of 917 square km (354 square mi). It starts to the northeast of the town of Sigulda, which is 54 km (33.5 mi) from Ikšķile. The park was founded in 1973 in an effort to protect natural areas that were being harmed. It also seeks to promote outdoor tourism and sustainable development. Some features of the park include the Gauja River (from where the park got its name), a large amount of biological diversity, rocky outcrops, beautiful landscapes and a number of both historical and cultural monuments dating from different time periods. Website: http://www.latvia.travel/en/gauja-national-park Opening hours: April-October 9:00-17:00. November-March 10:00-16:00.
Vacation rentals in Ikšķile (Ikšķile Municipality)
How to get there ?
The main airport gateway into the country is the Riga International Airport (www.riga-airport.com). The Riga airport is located38 km (23 mi) from Ikšķile. The national airline carrier in Latvia is Air Baltic (www.airbaltic.lv) that offers direct flights between Latvia and approximately 30 other cities in Europe. Discount airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet also offer flights between Riga and some other cities in Europe. It is also possible to enter the country by land. International bus companies that offer service to Riga include Eurolines (www.eurolines.lv) and Ecolines (www.ecolines.lv). Routes exist between Riga and cities in other Baltic countries, Russia and other Western European countries. It is also possible to enter the country by boat from Germany with the company DFDS Tor Line (www.dfdstorline.com) or from Estonia with the company Tallink (www.tallink.lv). There are also options to get to Sweden by boat from Latvia leaving from the Latvian city of Ventspils. Inquire at the harbor for times and prices. Within the country, there are bus and train routes for getting around. There are bus options throughout the county that leave from Riga and there are express bus connection options connecting many of the major towns in the country. Buses leaving Riga either Friday night or Saturday morning are generally very busy so it is recommended to buy a ticket in advance for those days. There is also a system of suburban trains that run from Riga to a number of cities. Trains are usually cheaper than buses but there are not train options to get to every city. Renting a car to explore Latvia is an option as well, although generally a bit pricey. However the roads are in fairly good condition and having your own car allows for increased flexibility to see the country.
Hotels in Ikšķile (Ikšķile Municipality)