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Castle of Ventspils

Location: N57° 23` 46.1", E21° 33` 31.3" | Website: muzejs.ventspils.lv/livonijas-ordena-pils/

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Livonian order castle where Ventspils museum is located today is the oldest preserved building in Ventspils and it is built on the second half of the 13th century. The castle is built as a convent type building with inner yard and it can be considered the oldest medieval stronghold in Latvia. It has survived up to today with its initial extend, and it is the only one that is preserved to today.

In 13th century (19th April of 1242) papal legate William of Modena allowed Livonian order to build a castle, stronghold or city by river Venta. In 1290 order master Balthasar Holte mentions in document about curonian commandery incomes, that Ventspils commandery is dependent on Kuldiga commandery, and orders to send two order brothers from Ventspils castle to Embute castle. In 14th century a regular castellan with a frontal yard is built, and from 1369 the first Ventspils seal and coat of arms is also extant.

In 1451 it was mentioned in visualization act that there are only seven brothers – knights in Ventspils castle, and in visualization of 1448 it was recognized that in Ventspils there is for one tenth more food and armor than in Kuldiga.

However castle chapel is the oldest preserved church room in Kurzeme. Up to the beginning of the 16th century the castle tower was raised, in first and second floor rooms valve ceilings were built and the biggest rooms and chapel got their walls and ceilings painted. From the 13th-16th century castle was used by Livonian order brothers, evangelical Lutheran church was working there on at the beginning of the 18th century, orthodox church (19th century) and even a prison (19., 20.century). Castle was used for establishment of different administrative institutions and army parts. Soviet army parts left the castle on 1983.

During the exploration and restoration under several plaster levels, unique 15th-17th century wall painting fragments have been found, and different evidences about the castle and its citizens were found in archaeological excavations.

In 1659 of the 17th century, castle was destroyed by Swedish army, but soon it was renewed – wooden beam coverings were partially constructed in place of valves. The castle was located by an important seaway, and the castle tower was used as a lighthouse at the end of the 17th century. After Kurzeme was included in Russian Imperia, castle was still the centre of Ventspils county board. From 1701-1706 castle’s old chapel was made into church for the civilians – its rooms were covered in Kurzeme wood carver Nicolas Seffrentz junior works and installations made by Johan Martens.

In reconstruction made in 1827 castle received a form of empire, which is preserved up to today.

Since the 18th century castle has been used both as a hospital, prison, customs and pilot offices, but the chapel was used for Lutheran church services.