The Victory Monument
The original version of the monument was unveiled in1924 as one of the first monuments to those who fell in the Latvian freedom battles. It was located at the southern edge of Union Square, where Raunas and Rīgas streets come together. The basic theme of the monument was: a sun rising from the flames of battle. The Soviet regime blew up the monument in 1951. In the late 1990s the monument was restored, and it was unveiled for a second time in 1998.
St. John's Church - History
St. John's Church - History
St. John’s Church is the second most notable building in Cēsis (alongside the medieval Castle), one of the oldest medieval architectural monuments, and also one of the oldest and most imposing church buildings in Latvia.
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH
From 1237 to 1561 Cēsis developed into one of the major centres of German power in the Baltic, as it became the capital of the Livonian Order and its Master’s residence. The church was built in the 13th century, as Christianity advanced into the Baltic, to serve the needs of the Livonian Order. At first services were held in the chapel of the Castle, but as the city grew in importance it became necessary to build a respectable masonry church—in those days the church building was used to symbolise the city’s power and its wealth.
The church was constructed in four years from 1283 to 1287, during the reign of the second archbishop of Rīga, Johann von Lunen, under the direction of the Order’s Master, Wilken von Endorp. It was consecrated as the Cathedral of the Livonian Order on 24 June 1284 and is named after St. John the Baptist.
Under one of the most notable Masters of the Livonian Order, Walter von Plettenberg, Cēsis became one of the first centres of the Lutheran Reformation in Livonia. He was instrumental in the church starting to preach in an evangelical manner in 1524. However, Poland-Lithuania gained control over most of Livonia, including Cēsis, in 1582 during the Livonian War. Soon the Counterreformation began and King Stephen Bathory established the Catholic Bishopric of Cēsis with St. John’s as its Cathedral.
The most active workers in the Counterreformation were Jesuits, and their colleges were located in Rīga and Cēsis. Erdmann Tolgsdorff, a member of the Jesuit College, translated Peter Canisius’ Catholicorum Catechismus into Latvian, and was buried in St. John’s in 1620. Georg Elger, was a catholic priest in Cēsis from 1615 to 1621, and compiled the first Catholic Hymn Book in Latvian. Two bishops, Andreas Patricius Nidecki (1583-1587) and Otto Schenking (1587-1621), who worked here are also buried in the Cathedral.
After the Swedish–Polish War Livonia became the property of Sweden. In 1627 King Gustav II Adolph gifted the former Catholic Bishopric, including the City of Cēsis and St. John’s Church, to Sweden’s Lord High Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna. The Swedes began to eradicate all traces of the Counterreformation, reintroduced the Lutheran faith and campaigned against the residual paganism of the local inhabitants. Under the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, following the Great Northern War, Livonia became a province of Russia until Latvia gained its independence in 1919.
Fires ravaged the city and damaged the church in 1568, 1607, 1640, 1665, 1671, 1694, 1746, and 1748. The army of Tsar Ivan the Terrible even used the church as a stable for horses during the Livonian War in 1577. The present 65-metre high church tower in neo-gothic style and was built during 1853, under the direction of a Latvian, Mārcis Podiņš-Sārums. The church suffered considerable damage again during World War II—the explosion of a munitions train in 1941 destroyed 56 stained glass widows and part of the roof, and a bomb in 1944 destroyed part of the roof and vaults in the southern aisle and damaged the organ and organ loft.
CESIS MEDIEVAL CASTLE
Altered and extended several times, Cesis Castle obtained its present architectural form in the early 16th century. In order to improve the defence of the central part of the castle, Master of the Order Wolter von Plettenberg (1494 - 1535) built the diagonally arranged North and South Towers, adapting the castle's defences to the demands of the age firearms. The castle was made inaccessible by moats and by the three extensive outer baileys enclosed by curtain walls.
The first serious damage was done to the castle only in the Livonian War (1558 - 1583), and it was finally abandoned, never to be used again for military purposes, at the start of the Northern War, after 1703. The complete collapse of the castle was hastened by a great fire in 1748, when the castle burned along with the town. Uninhabited and abandoned, the castle gradually became a ruin, used as a source of building material. Nowadays, Cesis Castle is a major historical site and a romantic medieval ruin.
Since part of the castle is no longer preserved above the ground, archaeological excavation has become one of the main research methods, continuing in various parts of the castle ruins.
Archaeologists have excavated the NORTH BLOCK down to the ground floor level. A wall divides this block into two separate spaces. Doorways with stone thresholds are preserved on the side facing the yard. Below this block there are well-preserved, partly filled vaulted cellars.
Revealed in the course of excavation was the castle's fourth, WEST BLOCK. This had lain forgotten under the rubble since its destruction in September 1577 during the Livonian War. The 16th century artefacts and coins, and the skeletons of people who perished under the collapsed ceiling beams, all found in the excavated cellar rubble, represent unique evidence of this tragedy in Cesis Castle more than 400 years ago. The central part of the castle consists of three towers and four blocks along the edges of a square courtyard.
The WEST TOWER is the castle's main tower, and the oldest one, built in the 14th century. It was the only tower of Cesis Castle with a preserved internal plan and system of stairways. Visitors can view the rooms, on four floors: from the cellar to the attic. On the first floor of the tower is the Master's Room, or so-called Star Chamber: a splendid room with the tracery of a star vault, vaulting-shafts and fragments of murals on the plaster.
Viewed from the outside, the SOUTH TOWER is the castle's most beautiful tower, adorned with two rows of arcades at the top. It was built in the late 15th century as a windowless defensive tower, with loopholes. In the cellar of the tower is a strong dungeon accessible from the ground floor through a small opening in the vault.
The NORTH TOWER, the second diagonal tower, was built around the turn of the 16th century as a defensive tower, not intended for habitation. The fireplaces and chimney flue found here were needed mainly for lighting the cannons.
The walls of the East and Sough Block are preserved almost to their original height, but lack floors and roofs. On the ground floor of the SOUGHT BLOCKS was a storehouse, while the first floor had a festive hall known as the Banqueting Hall. On the ground floor of the EAST BLOCKS was the kitchen, the bakery and brewery, with the refectory and residential quarters on the first floor. The second floor (attic) served for defence.
In the Castle Complex we offer a variety of ecxursions, theatrical tours and programmes, guided by guids dressed in 16th century servants' costumes. More information about programmes you will find in the section 'Offer'.
In summer castle ruins will be opened for visitors longer working hours.
Cesis History and Art Museum
Cesis History and Art Museum was found in 1925. Cesis Museum is one of the oldest and largest municipal museums in Latvia. The visitors of the Museum can acquaint themselves with the history of the district of Cesis starting from ancient history to right through to the bottles for the freedom of Latvia (early 20th century).
Since 1949 Cesis History and Art Museum ir locatad in Cesis New Castle. The Castle was built in 1777 on the site of gate defenses of the old castle. At this time the castle became the property of Count Carl Sievers. Cesis Castle Manor belonged to the Sievers family right up to 1917.
At the beginning New Castle with the mansard roof had two floors, abutting the Lademacher Tower at one corner. The New Castle is thought to have been altered in the 1820s, when the second and third floors of the tower were built, imitating Gothic forms. There is steep staircase leading to a gently-sloping cement platform on the roof. At the time of Count Sievers, mock crenellations were built of porous limestone along the rim of the platform.
The flag atop the Castle tower testifies that Cesis is the birthplace of Latvia ’s national flag. The tower offers a view of the city panorama.
Cesis - The Castle Park
THE CASTLE PARK
The Castle Park is the town’s most beautiful park and a favourite place for relaxation. The origins of the park date back to 1812, when the first work began to turn the adjacent Riekstu kalns (Nut Hill) and the castle ruins into a park. Initially, it belonged to Count Carl Sievers, who, after opening a spa institution in the castle un 1841, undertook extensive work to create a park, where the convalescents could relax and walk. Previously, this was an area of vegetable and herb gardens and orchards. Created on the site of what was previously a boggy hallow was a Romantic style landscape park with an artificial pond having an island at its centre.
The park has been redesigned and improved several times. There are eight sculptures of children along the sides of the lower sections of the park steps. By the pond are sculptures showing fishermen retrieving nets, and in the middle of the pond a sculpture in the form of a fountain – a youth and a large fish.
There are several festivals and cultural events taking place in the Castle Park . Performance of the Latvia National Opera also takes place in the Cesis Castle Park .