Livonian Order Castle
Latvia, Ventspils

Livonian Order Castle, one of the oldest medieval castles in Latvia, is located in the city of Ventspils, on the banks of the Venta River. The exact date of construction of the castle is unknown. Historians suggest that it was begun by the Livonian Order in 1242-1290. First, a donjon tower was built to protect the sea harbor and navigation along the Venta River. And in the XIV century, a castle-fortress already stood at this place, consisting of four buildings interconnected with a square courtyard. The old tower was preserved and built into the southeast wing of the castle. In the XV century, the third floor was built on the buildings and the height of the tower was increased, vaults were erected in the premises of the first and second floors, walls and ceilings were painted in the chapel and in the halls. The main tower of the castle is considered the oldest lighthouse in the Baltic. On the ground floor there was a kitchen, pantry and utility rooms. On the second - a chapel, a living room of the highest official of the order - Komtura, assembly hall, bedroom of the knights - a dormitorium, a refectory and a guest room. Armor and weapons were stored on the third floor. Knights of the Livonian Order lived in the castle until the middle of the 16th century. After the collapse of the order in 1561, the castle passes into the possession of the Duchy of Courland. In 1603, Swedish troops occupied the most important Ventspils harbor in Courland. During the Polish-Swedish war of 1655-1660, Ventspils was burned, and the castle was dilapidated. In the second half of the 17th century, the castle was rebuilt and rebuilt, some arches were partially replaced with wooden ceilings, the outer protective wall was demolished, and earthen fortifications were poured in its place. From 1706 to 1835, the castle housed the Evangelical Lutheran Church, from 1845 to 1901 the Orthodox Church, and in 1832-1959 the castle was used as a prison. In the eighties of the XX century, it was decided to place a museum in the castle. During restoration work, unique murals of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries were discovered under layers of plaster and paint. The most ancient of them is a fragment of the “devil's head” with a stylized lily flower on the second floor of the tower and crosses of the consecration (an act of priesthood in the Catholic Church) in the former chapel. Since September 2001, the Ventspils Museum has been operating in the castle, the expositions of which introduce the history of the region, the castle, the city and the port. The castle has a chamber music hall, which hosts concerts and music evenings. Knightly tournaments, theatrical performances and celebrations of the City Day are held in the courtyard of the castle. You can enjoy medieval cuisine in the cozy Black Pig Zucchini.

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