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Rezekne castle ruins

Location: N56° 30` 9.35", E27° 20` 5.15"

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Rezekne ruins are remains of Livonian order castle. Rezekne fifteen meters high castle mound with the ruins ascends on the right side of Rezekne river. According to the legend, Rezekne, just like Rome, is lying on seven hills. This city most vividly was described by the president of Latvia Guntis Ulmanis by saying that: “Rezekne is and will be the heart of Latgale.”

From 9th century up to 11th century, ancient Latgali castle was located on the hill by the river coast. In history sources, Rezekne for the first time was mentioned in 1285, when Rositten castle was built by order master Wilhelm of Shurborg, and it was built as a residency of Livonia order vogt.

Livonian order built a stone castle in 1263-1324 in place where Latgalian wooden castle was once standing. Rezekne castle became a powerful stronghold only on the second half of the 14th century when it was repeatedly mentioned in different historical sources. Frontal castle is also located by the stronghold. Settlement was gradually built around the order castle, later the administrative centre of the district. Rezekne knights who were subordinate to Daugavpils commandery, were often fighting with Muscovites. Order master Wolter von Plettenberg initially was also the vogt of Rezekne castle. After the chronicle news by Hemann von Wartberge, Rezekne castle has experienced several invasions of Russians and Lithuanians on the second half of the 14th century.

In 1558 Livonian order master Wilhelm von Furstenberg pledged the castle to the king of Poland – Sigismund II Augustus. In 1577 Ivan the Terrible beleaguered the castle and invited it to yield, promising freedom to the surrounded people, but he didn’t keep the promise – he destroyed the city, castle church, and 450 captives take with him in captivity to Pskov.

During the Polish-Swedish war in 1601 and 1625-1626 Rezekne castle was invadaed by Swedish army, but in 1656 there was a fight during which the Rezekne castle was destroyed and Swedish army was successful to defeat much bigger Russian forces. In 1660 it was again included in Inflanty-Vavadija structure belonging to Poles, but the castle had lost its previous military meaning.

After the truce of Andrusovo in 1660, the whole Latgale remained in Polish authority up until 1772, when Latgale was joined to Russia.

In 1712 the only thing was left of the castle were its ruins. In 18th century ruins were started to use as quarry for extraction of construction materials.

                                                                                                                                                        ***Legends of Rezekne castle ***


Rezekne ruins once were much higher and their walls were rising around the castle mound. City children used to meet in ruins, including Ievina.


Once they were playing in ruins during lunchtime. Suddenly a beautiful woman dressed in white raised from the ruins, holding a pile of washed clothes. She was walking down to Rezekne river and started to rinse the clothes. She rinsed and rinsed, looked around and started to cry.

Kids got scared and ran home. Some grandma had told that the woman in white has been the enchanted castle owner Ruzena, who was waiting for the one to break her from spell.

(1842, 2097. Jevgenija Pastarova (called Ievina), Rezekne; notes made by E.Jonikane, 1951).

***

It has been told tad once upon a time in Rezekne and Ludza castle molds there were living two sisters named Luce and Rase. It is unknown why their mother cursed them, which is the reason why they sunk into the ground with all the castles. Rase has shown to some young man and begged to help her escape from the underground. The saving could be done in a following way: When the catholic priest is holding the holy fair in Easter, the young man should go and dig. If he manages to dig out the entrance gate before the castle is raised, which are located by the exit from today’s bell room to castle mound, and the doors can be easily opened, then she will be saved.
The young man went to dig. It is told that his name was Anton. He dug and dug out the whole gates, he had to dig for three more times, but the church bells started to ring. Anton only managed to hear sad moans and voices: “how long I live, so long will I have to live!”