Riga Castle is the official residence of the President of Latvia though, as I have indicated on my House of Blackheads review, the President currently resides there (2015) and has done so since mid 2012 as the Castle is being renovated.
Given this renovation work, significantly delayed by a major fire in 2013, none of the castle complex was open to the public when I visited and a significant portion of the building was covered in scaffolding. Accordingly, I only took a cursory look at it in passing. Do check if any of the complex is open when you visit – it may be worth a closer look and a couple of museums formerly in the castle may return.
Riga Castle (or rather the first of three Riga Castles) dates from 1330 when the people of Riga were forced to build it for the Livonian Order – a branch of the medieval Teutonic Order – which had defeated them in war. The Masters of the Livonian Order lived in castles one and two, on and off (when the Rigans were not attacking/destroying the castle), for the next two hundred years. The Livonian Order only occupied the third castle for a short time. The third castle was built in 1515 and is the one we see today though, like all other buildings in Riga, it has been renovated and enhanced numerous times in the intervening years.
in 1578 Magnus of Livonia recognised the sovereignty of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and with that the Livonian Order ceased to operate and Riga Castle (3) became home to officials from successive conquerors from Poland (1578-1621), Sweden (1621-1710) and Russia (1710-1917).
In 1922 the Castle became the residence of the President of the now independent Republic of Latvia. During the post WWII period of Soviet occupation (1944 to 1991) the Castle housed the Soviet Youth Pioneers (the Soviet equivalent of Hitler Youth) and became known as Pioneer Castle.
On 11 November 1988 the flag of the Republic of Latvia was hoisted on one of the Castle towers – a significant act of defiance at the time. When Latvia regained its independence in 1991 it was decided that it would once again become the residence of the President of Latvia and it did so on the 12th of June 1995.
Today the Flag of Latvia and the Standard of the President fly on the Lead Tower – the latter when the President is in residence, which for the reason explained earlier he wasn’t when I visited.
To be honest until renovations are completed there is not a lot to see so unless you happen to be in the vicinity don’t make a special visit to see the castle.
Address: Pils laukums 3
Directions: Old City, overlooking the river just before the Vansu Bridge
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on the Old City area of Riga. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my first entry – SamaraH Hotel Metropole – Riga.