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Makonkalns and Volkenberga castle

Location: N56° 16` 39.5", E27° 24` 42.0"

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On the Southern shore of Razna lake one of the highest hills are raising – Makonkalns (Cloud mountain) or Padebesi mountain, which is 50m above the surroundings, more that 80m above Razna lake level and 248m above sea level. The hill has steep slopes which are grown with forest. An amazing view to Razna lake raises from the top of the hill.

In medieval times there was standing Volkenberg castle, whose ruins are still preserved up to today, and it was built in 1252. The castle was built by Livonian order. It was the oldest Crusader stronghold in Latgale, which Livonian order got in their hands after the last division of Jersika ir 1239.

Until 1236 there was standing a Latgalian wooden castle. Today the castle has collapsed, and only the large stone wall fragments and the collapsed underground passage still remain. Makonkalns castle used to be a castle of commandery, and it is one of the oldest strongholds in Latgale. It used to be a closed, with rubble indurate polygon with a frontal castle, but the castle was a wooden log house. From 1253 to 1263 princes Polotsk refused from Latgale on the behalf of Livonian order who built Livonian order’s commandery Volkenberg castle with stone protection wall in 1263.  

Makonkals castle lost its military meaning during the last years of the 13th century when Vecdaugava castle which was built in 1277 became the centre of commandery. But it is known though that the castle was occupied also in the 14th century.

There are signs that the castle mound was used also in 1347 and 1350. The castle was destroyed during the fights with Lithuanians, and was never reconstructed. In landscape painted by Napoleon Horde in 1875 only ruins are depicted.  

***Legend***

In the place where ruins can be seen on Makonkalns, a caste has been sunken – together with a beautiful girl – princess, who was cursed. It is thought that the girl is protected by a black dog. On the first Easter night the princess goes out and waits when a man will arrive to take off the curse. If anyone wants to see the princess, he has to take a black cat, black dog and a rooster and must go to Makonkalns in the Easter midnight. When the rooster will sing, dog will bark and the cat will meow, then it would be possible to see the beautiful girl.

***

That is what legends tell about Makonkalns and Volkenberg castle. Any citizen of any place could be proud with this castle, if it wouldn’t be sunken. But we are proud with Padebesi hill – one of the highest hills in Latvia!