The history of modern Sigulda as a city began between the 16th and 18th centuries. Then, on the route of the future railway connecting Pskov with Riga, Sigulda gradually turned into a transit point and a resort at the same time. At the end of the 19th century, the Russian owner of local lands, Prince Kropotkin, handed over Sigulda to wealthy Riga rulers, who built their country estates here.
Today Sigulda is a small town located on the border of the picturesque green Gauja valley and surrounded by medieval castles and legendary caves. It is also the gateway to the Gauja National Park in the northeast of the city. It is called the “Switzerland of Latvia” for its green “alpine” hills, old wooden farmhouses and endless fields with a thousand yellow flowers. The surrounding landscapes have made Sigulda a resort city with a winter sports center where Olympic bobsledders glide through the snow-covered hills of the valley.
How to get there
According to cachedhealth, Sigulda can be reached by bus from Riga (2 h; 6 buses per day) or by train from Riga (1 h 15 min; 10 trains daily), Valmiera (1 h 15 min), Ligatne (10 min) and Sesis (50 min).).
Entertainment and attractions of Sigulda
The main historical and architectural landmark of Sigulda is Turaida Castle (4 km from Sigulda). Originally, it was created in the 13th century by order of the Bishop of Riga Albert, but having existed for more than 5 centuries, it was completely destroyed in a fire. Since the middle of the 20th century, restoration work has been actively carried out, and today part of the walls and 3 towers have already been restored: the northern, southern and observation towers. On the territory of the Turaida Castle there is an open-air museum and a sculpture park.
The new Sigulda castle and palace originally belonged to the family of Count Borham, but later passed into the inheritance of the Kropotkin princely family. After the end of the First World War, the society of Latvian Journalists was located in the building of the palace. Today it houses the city administration.
On the way between Sigulda and Turaida Castle is the largest cave in Latvia – Gutmanis, from which a small stream flows with healing spring water. According to legend, the water in the stream is Gutmani’s tears, which have healing and revitalizing properties.
Krimulda Palace and the ruins are located 800 meters from Gutman’s Cave along and up the serpentine. The cable car brings tourists here every half an hour. Sigulda has the only cable car in Latvia that connects the hills of Sigulda and Krimulda in the Gauja valley. It was opened in January 1969 at an altitude of 1060 meters above the valley. A one-way trip will cost 2 lats (as of July 2011)
On the Dain hill, created in 1985 in honor of the 150th anniversary of Krishtjanis Baron, you can visit the sculpture park, which displays works depicting the heroes of Latvian folk tales. In the middle of the 16th century, the master of the Livonian Order, Ketler, presented the estate to Nurmuizh. Today, this estate is no smaller than any castle and deserves a tourist visit.
Be sure to take a ride on the bobsleigh track. The Sigulda route is the only one of its kind in the entire Baltic.
The Cane Square is a visiting card of Sigulda. It was built in 2007 as a symbol of the hospitality of the locals, who have been making walking sticks since the 19th century to help tourists climb the hills of the Gauja river valley.
A classic tourist route in Sigulda would look like this: walk along the forest footpaths to Turaida. From there, ride the cable car through the entire valley, and then go around every path of the Turaida village and castle, before returning to the river valley and visiting Gutman’s cave.