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Castle of Ludza

Location: N56° 32` 55.4", E27° 43` 44.8"

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Ludza stone castle was built on an 18m high moraine mound which rises between the Large and Small Ludza lake. The hill has naturally steep slopes on the eastern, northern and western side. After re-digging the hill with two ditches, the main castle with inner frontal castle and outer frontal castle was made.

In 1399 (14th century) German crusaders made a powerful castle between the Large and Small Ludza lake for the protection of eastern borders of Livonian order – three story stone building with 6 towers, 3 gates and 2 frontal castles. Ludza castle was built from gray rubble and red bricks, decorated with black frosted bricks.

Ludza castle was built for strengthening of Livonia eastern borders. For the first time in history Ludza castle was mentioned in 1433 regarding Merv castle (Prussia) commandery planned visit. Ludza castle was run by some war servant who was put into position by Rezekne vogt. In 1481 a big Russian army invaded Livonia, occupied and destroyed Ludza castle. Only in 1525 Ludza castle was repaired by the Order, using relationship improving between Moscow order.  

When Livonian war started, German army with Ludza garrison included, attacked Krasny Gorodok and destroyed several Pskov regions in 1558.In the same year Moscow army answered with a crusade led by Gregory Temkin and occupied Ludza castle. In the next year order pledged Ludza castle with few other castles to Polands and since 1561 Ludza castle was included as a part of Polish Inflantia Province. Polish and Lithuanian ruler Stephen Báthory also was living in Ludza castle for some time.  

In 1577 Livonia was again invaded by Russian army led by Ivan the Terrible, and in 25th of June Ludza castle was occupied. To strengthen the castle, 37 rifles, 282 powder kegs, 3400 bullets and 22 tin kegs were sent to Ludza. Grigory Kolichew was made the vojevoda of Ludza. But after the lost Livonian war Ivan the Terrible was forced to refuse from his invasions in Livonia and in 1582 castle was again in hands of Poles.

In 1599 revision was made in the castle from which the oldest and safest information about its look can be received nowadays. There are wooden towers mentioned built on the protective walls, oak wood gates forged with nails, different outhouses in the territory of frontal castle, collapsed basements, and the large tower built from bricks. After the ravage of Livonian war, the previous headman hadn’t done anything on the behalf of castle reconstruction, but headman Skarbek repaired the castle by his own means during the war.

However, during the Polish-Swedish war in 1625 Ludza castle was occupied by Swedish army. Poles got it back pretty son though, because Swedish commandant gave it back without any struggle as he did not receive any reinforcements.

In 1654 during the Russian-Polish war, Russian vojevda Lev Saltikov surrounded Ludza castle and on the 22nd of December castle surrendered. One of the castle towers was blown up. According to the Polish government decision in 1667, the only castle which was maintained was Daugavpils. Ludza castle was left behind. In inventory of Ludza starostwo in 1765 only ruins are now mentioned. In 1772 Latgale together with Ludza was included in Russian territory.  

***Legend***

Once upon a time in Ludza was a large castle where a rich king lived. King had a beautiful daughter who fell in love with their servant. King tried to discourage the girl from the thought of marriage with the servant’s boy, but daughter did not listen in her father. Once when king was mad, he told the daughter “so let the devil take you.” After these words the devil took the girl underground. The king soon died from heartache. War came after and destroyed the castle. People were afraid to come close to the castle, because it was heard that someone is crying in castle and asking for help. One Sunday three shepherds lost their herds. They found them by the old castle. One of the shepherds was an orphan. Other shepherds made fun of him by throwing his hat in the old castle. The orphan started to cry. Suddenly a beautiful girl appeared with his hat in her hands and said: “Don’t be afraid, I will not harm you good boy, I am the cursed princess of this castle. I beg you; get me out of the spell which is torturing me for many years. When you will be twenty one year old, come to me on the first Easter morning and take me with you. But you can’t take anything with you except me.” When the boy grew up, he went to the castle. Went underground through some cave and got into several rooms full of treasure. Princess was on the very last room. The boy took the princess by the hand to guide her out, but then he spotted two beautiful crowns on the wall. He put one crown on the princess head and one on his head. A loud thunder resounded and the boy was thrown back on the castle mound. People are telling that he had to take only the princess, but now princess has to say underground forever.