Castle of Bauska
Location: N56° 24` 12.7", E24° 10` 27.5" | Website: bauskaspils.lv/lv/pils-un-muzejs
Bauska castle was built during the ruling time of Livonian order master Heinrich Vinke von Overberg from 1439.-1450. Livonian order built the castle to strengthen its power over Zemgale, to protect the
border with Lithuania and to control the trade route from Lithuania to Riga. Bauska caste was not only a stronghold but also vogt (region of orders’ state) centre where vogt as an official executed court, police, finance and war administration functions.
At the beginning of the 16th century, reformation was spreading in Livonia very fast. Initially protestant preachers were successful in cities, later also in country sides and in Livonian order. From 1536 to 1538 the idea propagator of Martin Luther – Valdis Burkards was locked in Bauska castle jail.
In summer of 1555 a conflict raised between Riga archdiocese and Livonian order, which was the last fight for the power in the country. In August of 1557 Poland declared war with order. Delegates of the order spent the whole July of 1557 in Bauska castle, because they did not receive an entry permit.
When Livonian was started on 31st August of 1559, a protection contract was made in Vilnius, which was signed by Livonian master Gotthard Kettler and Lithuanian chancellor Mikołaj "the Black" Radziwiłł. Poland promised to help Livonia in a fight against Russia, but in return they asked the frontier castle region and castles at least for some time. Bauska order castle was given to Polish war executive at the end of 1559, but in 1561 Bauska castle was obtained by the last Riga archbishop Wilhelm von Brandenburg in exchange of Koknese.
In 1625 castle was invaded by Swedish army, in 1628 – Polish army, and in 1629 it was received back by duke of Kurzeme.
During the great Northern war in 1701 castle was invaded by Swedish army and powerful land fortifications were made – one of the most expressive in territory of Latvia. In 1706 castle was partially bombed by Russian army. In 18th century castle was not occupied anymore and it was slowly turning into ruins.
The ruins were greatly explored in control of archeologist A.Caune durin the 1980ties. Bauska castle well characterizes architecture of military buildings in Latvia during the 15.-17th century. Its oldest part is the only Livonian order stronghold, built for special flame thrower guns, but the newest part – with bastions, protection walls and ground fortifications indurate residency type castle. This building is the only partially preserved residency of Kurzeme and Zemgale dukes von Kettlers, and it is also the only architecture monument in Latvia that illustrates castle architecture of mannerism time and constructively decorative art expression in Kurzeme duchy.
If we go up in Bauska castle, then you can see the point where rivers Musa and Memele are flowing into each other, park with the bandstand, but on the opposite side and interesting view to the city appears.
It is told that in one of the Bauska castle basements there is a large chest with golden coins. The chest is made of iron and ironed with steel hoops. There are two dogs with large heads on the chest, and everyone who gets close to the chest is eaten by these dogs.
When Bauska castle was still occupied, it was possible to get around it with carriage and three pairs of horses – six horses, harnessed next to each other. But now it is dangerous to walk around the castle from river Memele side even for one person: there is a deep abysm on the foothills of the high coastal. A lot of people have drowned there. It is a dangerous place also for rafts. The abysm is turning the raft around for so long until it breaks it, if it cannot get out on time. One of the castle walls were already falling into Memele, but about 30-40 years ago (around 1880) a mason was called to strengthen the wall. Now the wall is still standing.