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Rundāle Palace

Location: N56° 24` 48.3", E24° 1` 28.16" | Website: rundale.net/

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Rundāle palace is one of the most remarkable and most beautiful architecture and art monuments in Latvia. This repository of excellent art and culture values does not make anyone who visits this place disinterested. Rundāle palace is not only a relaxation, but also a spiritual charging, an opportunity to gain new ideas and be aware of you in the sweep of history. 

Rundāle territory division in feuds was started in the middle of the 15th century. Since 1735 it was the summer residency of Kurzeme duke Enst Johann von Biron. The palace is built in baroque style after the project of Russian Empire court architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The construction of the palace was started in 1736. The inner setting was completed in 1768. In general there were 138 rooms with the total area of 6936m2. The inside premises of the palace were suffering during the war in 1812 and during the WW I, when infirmaries were coveted in the palace. However many rooms still have their original decorative formations and paintings. The old palace is mentioned in the list of Livonian palaces in 1555. Facade decoration items found in its territory – casting iron fragments and fragments of iron coats of arms – can be dated to the middle of the 17th century. 

The interior was mostly made in Italian baroque – vivid and a little bit heavy style, but more fashionable approach can be seen in woodcuts on the staircases. The most luxurious room is the Golden hall – it used to be duke’s throne and audience hall with painted ceilings and artificial marble walls, decorated with golden stucco formations. There are four large fireplaces in the kitchen, where food was used to be cooked on an open fire. 

After the death of Duke Ernst, the palace was inherited by his wife Benigna. Manor garden was renewed and expanded during this time. The next owner was Ernst’s son Peter. Rundāle for him was a residency for proving his power – a place for especially lordly festivities. In 1795 Kurzeme became a province of Russian Empire, and its ruler was forced to refuse from the throne. Duke Peter left Kurzeme forever. A lot from palace furnishings were transported to Biron properties all around the Europe. 

Platon Zubov died in Rundāle palace on the 7th of April in 1822. His widow married with count Andrei Shuvalov. Rundāle manor belonged to Shuvalov family until the agrarian reform of Republic of Latvia in 1920. Shuvalovs spend their time on the palace rarely, except time from 1864 to 1866, when count Piotr Shuvalov was the general governor of the Baltic States, and used Rundāle palace as his official summer residency. Unfortunate palace room reconstruction was done during this time, but on the 80ies of the 19th century a careful interior decoration reconstruction was done. At the end of the 19th century part of the palace equipment and artworks were transported to Sankt Petersburg. 

Palace restoration works were done in 1923, Rundāle parish elementary school was set up in part of the rooms. In 1924 Rundāle palace was given to the Latvian War disabled union.