A small town Sigulda located 50 kilometers to the north-east from Riga may be considered as one of the best resorts in Latvia. There you can go in for winter sports, wander about the picturesque places of the «Latvian Switzerland», and visit medieval castles.
Sigulda is not on the shore of the sea, but the notion of resort as a place where you come for recreation is quite applicable to it. Local mountains are very beautiful. There were created many tourist routes, making it possible to enjoy in full the local nature, beautiful landscapes and pure air.
The mountains and forests surrounding Sigulda are included in the Gauja National Park, which was founded in 1973 for protection of rare plants and animals. Apart from its nature sights, Sigulda also has some historic sights, which are worth visiting.
The main landmark of Sigulda is the Turaida Castle located on the high hill rising above the city at the bend of the Gauja river. You can see the peculiar beauty of this place coming up on the tower of the Turaida Castle. From there you can see the undulating landscape, the bends of the Gauja river and Sigulda.
The knights of the Order of the Brothers of the Sword built the Turaida Castle in 1214, and for a long time it was one of their key defensive points in the East country. But in the 18 century a big fire destroyed nearly all buildings. Since that time the castle lay in ruins. The restoration work, which was began in 1953, resulted in the reconstruction of the main building of the castle, and the tower.
It is very pleasant to wander about the paths of the park. In the local cemetery is the grave of the Rose of Turaida (1601-1620), a beautiful maiden of 19 years old, with whom is a tragic story of love is related. There are a lot of figures and old wooden houses at the park.
On the way from Sigulda to the Turaida Castle is another curious place – the Gutman`s Cave. It is the largest cave in the Baltic countries. All its walls are covered by inscriptions. And the water of the spring flowing out of cave is said to have healing properties.