Sigulda is one of the most beautiful sights of Latvia and a popular day trip from Riga. It’s especially impressive in autumn because the colorful foliage adds attractiveness to the gorgeous landscape. When Latvians say let’s go to Sigulda, they most likely mean visiting at least two places: Sigulda town on the left bank of the Gauja river and Turaida on the right bank. Even though Turaida is a part of Sigulda town nowadays, it proudly wears its separate name. What’s so special about this place besides the colorful leaves? It has very rich natural landscapes, historical sites including several castles, a developed net of hiking trails offering the best views, and the old river bed of the Gauja river. For winter time, it has skiing slopes and a bobsleigh track. It’s also part of Gauja National park with even more things to explore. Here are my nine must dos for autumn in Sigulda:
1) Listen to nostalgic music in Gutmana cave
It’s the biggest cave in Latvia, 18,8m long, 10m wide, 10m at its maximum height. It has inscriptions dating back to the 17th century! They say the spring in the cave has healing powers. The legend says there was a Gutmanis (lit. ‘good man’) who lived in the cave in the ancient days and healed the locals.
2) Have a snack at Bundulitis cafeteria
Bundulitis was built in 1910 as a place for selling milk and snacks to visitors of Turaida and Gutmana cave. It’s still open. Enjoy!
3) Count the steps of the hiking trails
I bet you will quickly lose count. There are so many of them! You will be spoiled by choice. Try at least a few trails yourself.
4) Take your selfie at the top of Turaida castle tower
Turaida castle was built according to the will of Bishop Albert from Riga in 1214. It was one of the bishop’s residencies. Later it became part of Turaida estate and was not renewed after a fire in late 18th century. Castle renovation works started just in late 20th century. Now there is a museum and the best view to the Gauja river bed from the top of the castle tower.
5) Have a minute of silence in the wooden church of Turaida museum reserve
Turaida church is one of the oldest wooden churches in Latvia, built in 1750. After the recent renovation the church looks newly built – magnificent and elegant in its simplicity.
6) Guess how the other side of this sculpture looks
The name of the sculpture is the Stone of Spidola. She represents the nation’s spiritual and creative potential. There are 25 sculptures spread over the Folk Song garden established in 1985. The sculptures are dedicated to Latvian folk songs and their gatherer – the great folklorist Krisjanis Barons. He used to climb the Hill every day of the last year of his life.
7) Make a wish in the round trees square in Dainu hill, Folk-Song Garden
There is a belief that if you make a wish in this place and put the coin on the stone, the wish will come true.
8) Buy the special Sigulda walking stick
Sigulda walking stick is a unique souvenir of Sigulda. If you have it, it means you have been there. Already in the tour guide printed back in the 19th century, you could read that for hiking the steep paths of Sigulda, buying this walking stick might be very useful. It’s also true today. The sticks are handmade, polished and beautifully adorned with national ornaments.
9) Walk the garden of Sigulda new castle
The new castle was built as a manor house for estate owner Kropotkin family in the late 19th century. The Sigulda regional council is currently located here. Don’t forget to visit old Sigulda castle ruins just behind the new castle! This is the place for traditional Sigulda summer opera festivals.
What is your favorite place to visit in the autumn? Share in the comments section!
Author: Anita Sāne
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