When visiting the capital of Latvia, Riga, take your time to see what Latvia has to offer outside the city. One of the most popular sightseeing places near Riga is Rundale Palace, located in Zemgale region about 80 kilometres from Riga. Zemgale is the smallest region, and it lies in the center of Latvia. It is well-known for its historical monuments, palaces, manors, and castles. Its nickname is ‘breadbasket’ because in the past most grains were grown here: the soil is fertile and the land is flat. This region has two important cities, Jelgava and Bauska, and some worth-seeing palaces, starting from Jelgava palace which is a university now. Then there is Rundale Palace, an outstanding example of Baroque and Rococo architecture. It was designed in the 18th century by world-famous architect Rastrelli, who was also the architect of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage. Mežotne Palace in classicism style also houses a hotel and Livonian Order Castle in Bauska.
I suggest you do a day trip to see two palaces, a castle and more around Bauska town. Here you go:

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Morning

A good time to start is 9 a.m. After a one hour drive you arrive at Mežotne Palace.

Mežotne Palace

On the right bank of the River Lielupe, 10 kilometres from the town of Bauska lies one of the most outstanding classicism buildings in Latvia - Mežotne Palace. It was presented by Russian Empress Catherine II to the governess of her grandchildren, Princess Charlotte von Lieven. The palace was built at the end of 18th century. Its interior was designed in Neoclassicism style. During the agrarian reform of 1920, count Anatole Lieven lost the Mežotne estate. From 1921 to 1944, the building accommodated an agricultural school. During World War II, the buildings of the palace were partly destroyed. The restoration works that were initiated in 1958 saved the palace from full devastation. The renovation of the palace was completed in 2001.

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The landscape around the palace is harmonious and carefully planned. Its expressive auxiliary buildings, the beautiful park, the Lielupe River, and the picturesque landscape over the river make a unified ensemble. The park has three parts – a parade yard, a summer park and a winter park. In summer you can take a romantic walk there.

11 mezotne palace latvia thesanetravel.com 1270214Mežotne Palace is home to a hotel, a restaurant, and a pub, and it offers premises for conferences, banquets and weddings.
Guests of Mežotne can use a footbridge to walk and bike over the Lielupe, which connects Mežotne and Rundale Palace located 3 kilometres away.

10 mezotne palace latvia thesanetravel.com 127022011 mezotne palace latvia thesanetravel.com 1270228Our trip continues back to Bauska. When entering the town make a stop at...

Bauska Motor Museum

It is a branch of the well known Riga Motor Museum. Previously these premises were used as Riga Motor Museum’s fund storage. Now the Bauska branch has been transformed into a new high-quality tourism attraction.10 bauska motor museum latvia thesanetravel.com 1270289

The museum displays a great variety of antique vehicles – classic passenger cars from the 1930s and post-war period, farm machinery from the 1920s till 1930s, a real threshing machine and tractors.

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12 bauska motor museum latvia thesanetravel.com 1270291The collection of military machinery includes military vehicles from World War II and vehicles used by the Latvian armed forces after Latvia regained its independence in the early 1990s.13 bauska motor museum latvia thesanetravel.com 1270310

For those not interested in a car’s every detail, the exhibition includes a restored artisan workshop and the interior of an early 20th century farmer’s house.

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Address: Sarkanmuiža 6, Codes pagasts, Bauskas novads
Then take a 10 minute drive to the next stop.

Bauska Castle

Bauska Castle represents an example of military architecture built from 15th to 17th century. Its oldest part is the only Livonian Order fortress built especially for the use of firearms, but the newest part is a residential castle fortified with bastions, protective walls and the earthen rampart. A more recent part of the ensemble, built in late 16th century, is the residence of the Kettlers, the Dukes of Courland. It is the only architectural monument in Latvia, illustrating the expressions in art of Mannerism castle architecture and applied and decorative art in the Duchy of Courland. Restoration works began in the 70s. The Dukes’ residence was completely restored in the 90s and acquired its current appearance in 2008.

23 bauska castle latvia thesanetravel.com 127044512 bauska castle latvia thesanetravel.com 127034313 bauska castle latvia thesanetravel.com 1270355The castle is surrounded by picturesque scenery. It is located on the land strip between the rivers Mūsa and Mēmele, not far from the place where they meet to form the river Lielupe. In the 70s of the 20th century, the restoration of the castle’s newest part began.
Look at the ruins of the Order Castle, climb the central tower, view the panorama of Bauska, and see the outline of the previous fortification system consisting of bastions and ramparts.20 bauska castle latvia thesanetravel.com 1270430See the castle’s interior, and the historical exhibits: “Clothes and Jewellery in the Duchy of Courland, 1562—1620” and “Bauska Castle: A Military Fortress”.

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Inspect the medieval fortress’ defence systems and see the collection of the castle’s cannons in the ruins of Livonian Order Castle.
11 bauska castle latvia thesanetravel.com 1270335After the castle visit, if you have the time, take a pedestrian path through Pilskalns Park, across a meadow and over a canal bridge to Ķirbaksala, the beginning of the River Lielupe.
As lunch time is approaching, you can have lunch in medieval style Castle Tavern offering Latvian and European cuisine.

Afternoon

Continue your trip for 12 kilometres to Rundāle Palace.

Rundāle Palace

Rundāle Palace was built in early 18th century, according to the design of architect Rastrelli as a summer residence of the Duke of Courland Ernest Johann Biron.11 rundale palace latvia thesanetravel.com 1270460

A major part of the interior was made in the middle of the 18th century. Representation rooms in the eastern wing of the palace – the Gilt Hall, the White Hall, and the Great Gallery – are open to the public. The central part accommodates the Duke's suite with reception parlours and private rooms, and the eastern part hosts a fully restored suite of Duchess's rooms.13 rundale palace latvia thesanetravel.com 1270479

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17 rundale palace latvia thesanetravel.com 1270504Rundāle Palace houses a museum which works as a centre for research into Latvia's history, through creating collections, arranging exhibitions and producing publications. The exhibition halls display applied art, fine art and historical expositions; the palace hosts the Early Music Festival and recitals of classical music.

Park
The regular French style park with its rose garden, the Green Theatre, ornamental parterres and the fountain are open to the public. In summer the park becomes a venue for the Garden Festival. The park spreads out to the south of the palace, and Bartolomeo Rastrelli designed it together with the palace building.14 rundale palace latvia thesanetravel.com 1270485

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Although Rundāle's formal garden size is just 10 hectares, Rastrelli has managed to fill it with an intricate maze of alleys, cross paths, pergolas and bosquets. The rose garden reflects the history of cultivating roses in Europe from the early 18th century to these days. A "green amphitheatre" has been set up in one of the bosquets, following Rastrelli's original design and the still remaining relief shapes. The venue was launched in summer of 2004 with the performance of Georg Friedrich Handel’s opera, Rinaldo.
Take your time to explore the magnificent palace and the beautiful park and maybe decide to come back to Garden Festival or early music festival in July.
Then continue your travel to the last stop, Mazmežotne the manor house.

Mazmežotne

Located on the hill of the Lielupe river bank valley, it is an excellent nature surrounded place for guests to relax, offering overnight stays, meals, rooms for celebrations, events and seminars. For recreational enthusiasts and nature lovers, there is cycling, boating and walking through the nature trail and the surrounding walkways. The renovated manor house looks quite different from most such kind buildings in Latvia. It’s very much reminiscent of the architecture of buildings in Switzerland.

12 mamezotne manor latvia thesanetravel.com 1270586The restaurant is named among 6 best restaurants located in manor houses and palaces in Latvia, so it’s an opportunity for you to stay for dinner or even stay overnight in the 4 star hotel there.15 mamezotne manor latvia thesanetravel.com 1270600

14 mamezotne manor latvia thesanetravel.com 1270590You’d just better make your reservation in advance. The restaurant's rooms are decorated with oak furnishings and luxurious fabrics, creating an ancient and cosy atmosphere. Besides, the restaurant is also a bar area and an outdoor terrace, which offers charming views of the beautiful natural landscape to the river Lielupe.

11 mamezotne manor latvia thesanetravel.com 1270585Restaurant opening hours:

Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday; noon to 6 p.m.
Friday, Saturday: noon to 9 p.m. Days off: Monday, Tuesday
So your trip is coming to an end and a bit after 6 p.m. you are ready to go back to Riga.

Practical tips for travellers

You can easily reach Bauska town by public bus but other parts of the trip done by public transport are too time consuming to be reasonably practical.
So you are left with three options of how to do this tour:
1) Join an organised tour covering most of this itinerary
2) Come to Bauska by public bus, rent a bicycle and do the rest of the tour by bicycle. The biking tour route is marked.

10 biking route sign latvia thesanetravel.com 1270218Address of the bike rental: Kalna iela 12, Bauska. Office hours Monday to Friday 9 am - 1 pm and 1.30 pm - 6 pm. Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
3) Rent a car in Riga for the entire trip.
The best days of the week for a visit: Wednesday to Friday for a dinner opportunity in Mamežotne restaurant and less of a crowd in Rundale Palace. Check the opening hours for the other days of the week and adjust your itinerary accordingly.

I hope you have a wonderful time in Latvia!

Rundale and more

  • Published by Anita on June 10, 2017

 

Author: Anita Sāne

DSC 7536 m

About the author
Anita is a part time traveler, passionate photographer and a mature career woman
from Latvia, 
traveling mostly solo for more than 10 years. She is a skilled travel planner
planning and executing her travels by herself. Follow Anita also on Instagram.

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Comments   

Divyakshi Gupta
#13 Divyakshi Gupta 2017-06-18 15:50
The architecture of the palace is just so regal and stunning. Love the windows, the palatial ceilings, the ornate work. Just too gorgeous. Even the castle is a wonder! So fairy tale like:) I love vintage museums and the Bauska Motor musuem reminded me of the National Transport museum near delhi! What a gorgeous lush green surrounding!!
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Ariane
#12 Ariane 2017-06-18 14:15
Hi Anita, You have such beautiful photos in this post! I've never been to Riga, but seeing your pics and reading your post makes me wanna plan a trip there. Rundale palace is a very impressive and colourful building.
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annasherchand
#11 annasherchand 2017-06-18 13:27
I haven't been to Riga yet but Def want to go.Thanks for adding to my intrigue. Like the way you put together the visit to Rundale palace as well as pictures. Keep exploring :)
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Only By Land
#10 Only By Land 2017-06-18 10:44
Wow, I visited Riga but never knew of the option to visit Rundāle Palace. From seeing your pictures, I'd compare Rundāle Palace to Versailles in France. Flights are always cheap to Riga so this year I'll make an effort to revisit the city and take the trip to Rundāle Palace.
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Sandy N Vyjay
#9 Sandy N Vyjay 2017-06-18 09:51
Rundale Palace looks so bright and colourful and in harmony with its surroundings. The grand palace looks elegant and magnificent from the inside too. The other place I would absolutely love to go to is the Motor museum, it looks so fascinating indeed. Latvia is really a gem blessed abundantly by nature.
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Samantha Sparrow
#8 Samantha Sparrow 2017-06-18 07:27
Riga has been a must visit destination for me for some time, mainly due to its architecture and looking at your pictures of the palace it seems I'm right - I love the architecture here and the colours too. Maybe I'll get to visit soon!
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oursweetadventures
#7 oursweetadventures 2017-06-18 01:53
The mezotne palace is very nice. I honestly was not expecting much when I first started reading but I am very pleasant surprised by the grounds and the inside. Rundale palace seems a lot like the Palace of Versailles. Latvia has more to see than I would have imagined.
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Rhiannon
#6 Rhiannon 2017-06-17 11:42
Beautiful photos! Riga looks very charming, I would love to visit more of the Baltics at some point :)
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Adrenaline Romance
#5 Adrenaline Romance 2017-06-16 16:24
What a beautiful place! Rundale Palace is the epitome of elegance. But those cars---mmmmmmm! I love cars considering I create model kits as a hobby. Also, that Willy's jeep evokes a lot of memories. My old uncle once had one like that as a "gift" after WW2.
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Stefanie
#4 Stefanie 2017-06-13 14:07
Woow, this looks really amazing,
This is really on my have to do list before i get into my 40's

Keep posting,
Kind regards
Stefanie
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