Museum virtual tour
Virtual tour shows the Bauska Castle – it leads through the gate and courtyard of the residence, offers an opportunity to take a look at the history exposition and costume exhibition, as well as the restored interiors – the Duke's personal rooms and great hall, the portrait gallery, the Hauptmann’s kitchen, the basement and the horse stable, the castle guard room. It also takes the visitors to the courtyard of the castle and inside the walls of the central tower.
May to September
daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.,
November to April
daily 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.,
From 24/12/2022 till 26/12/2022 closed
From 31/12/2022 till 02/01/2023 closed
How to find us
Bauska Castle Museum
What to see
Fortress of the Livonian OrderThe most modern fortress of the Livonian Order in Latvia at that time, built specifically for the use of firearms, first mentioned in written sources in 1443. The ruins of the fortress clearly demonstrate the logical arrangement of the defensive walls, towers and lancet holes. The courtyard offers to view the largest 17th century collection of cast iron cannons in Latvia. The visitors can climb the central tower of the castle, 50 meters above sea level to see the unique landscape of Zemgale with the castle surrounded by the rivers Memele and Musa, giving a sense of where the Lielupe begins. The conservation works of the walls and the reconstruction of the central tower of the Livonian Order have been completed. The tower is open to visitors from June 5, 2021.
The InteriorsThe living rooms and representation halls of the Dukes of Courland and Semigallia, the kitchen and halls, cellar, stable and gate guard room are renovated; fireplaces adorned with mannerism stone forgings, gorgeous 16th-17th centuries tile stoves and multi-coloured glazed ceramic tile floors. There is leaded small glass window panes and stained-glass panels featuring coat of arms in the windows of the castle. Gradually, the interior of the rooms is complemented by 16th-17th century functional objects typical of the respective room: chests, tables, chairs, beds, light fixtures, fireplace accessories, etc. A gallery of portraits of the Duke Kettler family. There is a fully equipped kitchen.
Castle’s History ExhibitionFind out about the settlement on the Bauska Castle mound in the Early Metal Age, the beginnings of the Livonian Order castle in the mid-15th century, the establishment of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia and the construction of a residence castle in the 16th century, the reign of Dukes Kettlers and court life. Examine the 16th century tournament armour. Discover the fate of the castle during the Polish-Swedish War in the 17th century and its destruction in the Great Northern War of the early 18th century.
Exhibition “Bauska Castle - Military Fortification”Examine the development of the Bauska Castle defence system from the mid-15th to 18th century and compare it to similar fortifications in Western and Central Europe. Examine the 17th century fortifications plans, battle engravings, military antiquities found in archaeological excavations, and original 16th-18th century weapons. The gun on display is still loaded!
Exhibition "Costume and Jewellery in the Duchy of Courland 1562-1620".Get to know the fashion trends in the Duchy of Courland during the reign of two generations, the first Duke of Courland Gothard and his sons Friedrich and Wilhelm. Find out about the peculiarities of fashion in the clothing of Dukes' relatives in the countries around the Baltic Sea at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century. Inspect sewing accessories found in archaeological excavations - scissors, iron, buttons, hooks, beads, original 17th century costume details, dressmaking patterns and embroidery patterns from the 16th to 17th centuries documents and tailors’ books, as well as several replica costumes.
"Dance lesson at the Court"Learn Renaissance dance and court manners under the guidance of our programme leader dressed in a Renaissance costume. Find out about the role of dance in the 16th century and the influence of the dancers' costume on the character and manner of the dance performance.Languages - LV, EN, RU
The maximum number of persons in a group is 40
Approximate duration 1h 30min
Must be booked in advance
“Dressing culture in Duchy of Courland”Try on a Renaissance gown and get a sense of the courtier’s costume from farthingale and corsets to ruff collar. Find out about the fashion, dressing procedures and costume-making in the late 16th and early 17th century.Languages - LV, EN, RU
The maximum number of persons in a group is 30
Approximate duration 1h 30min
Must be booked in advance
“Court Life in the Late 16th and early17th Centuries"Enjoy dishes prepared according to ancient recipes and served in archaeological replicas of the dishes of the time. Participate and learn about the entertainment activities of courtiers: games, board games, manners, fashion, dressing, dancing and music and Dutch pipe smoking.Languages - LV, EN, RU
The maximum number of persons in a group is 25
Approximate duration: 1h 30min
Must be booked in advance
“The Story of the Old Purse”Find out about payment methods, money types, and their value from shells to ducats. Learn about commodity-money exchange system by engaging in a role-play and get a feel of the money lender.Language - LV
The maximum number of persons in a group is 40
Approximate duration 1h
Must be booked in advance
"Visit to Duchess Anna"Visit the "Duchess", get to know family values and create a family coat of arms, give the newlyweds vow. Find out about wedding tradition in the Duchy of that time, get married, get involved in various rituals to promote harmonious marriage and family growth.Language - LV
The maximum number of persons in a group is 50
Approximate duration 1h 30min
Must be booked in advance
“A Romantic Moment at the Tower of Bauska Castle”Give the wedding vows in the Central Tower and pass the tests in the enchanting atmosphere of 16th century.May to August
Language - LV
The maximum number of persons in a group is 50
Approximate duration 30min - 45min
Must be booked in advance
|General tour (LV)||20.00|
|General tour (EN, RU, DE)||30.00|
|Guide dressed in historical costume||15.00|
|Audio guide (LV, EN)||1.50|
|Photography and/or filming permits||EUR|
|Photography, per visit||1.50|
|Filming, per visit||3.00|
|Professional photography, per visit||7.00|
|Professional filming, per visitProfesionāla filmēšana||14.00|
|Construction History of the Bauska Castle||20.00|
|History of the Bauska Castle|
|Archaeological excavations in the Bauska Castle|
|Bauska Castle sgrafito wall decoration|
|Conservation of the ruins of the Bauska fortress of the Livonian Order|
|Representation of the castles of Courland and Semigallia in historical views and plans|
|Rental of premises and territory||Time||EUR|
|Concert - conference hall||One hour||110.00|
|Every next hour||55.00|
|Courtyard of the New part of the Bauska Castle – residence for the Dukes of Courland||One hour||30.00|
|Museum territory outside the Castle||One hour||30.00|
|Inn premises||One hour||30.00|
|Artist residency accommodations||daily rate||10.00|
Accessibility for persons with reduced mobility
The Bauska Castle Museum is adapted to ensure accessibility to visitors with reduced mobility
Please contact the staff for access to the castle area or for general enquiries.
Pricing and Tickets
|Pricing and Tickets||Adults||Students and seniors|
Complete Castle visit
Complete Castle visit
8.00* un 6.00**
* Family - 2 adults with 1 to 4 children aged 7-18
** Family - 1 adult with 1 to 4 children aged 7-18
|I||Exposition of castle history||2.00||1.00|
|VI||Livonian Order Castle Ruins and Tower||1.50||0.70|
|IV||Exhibition "Clothing and Jewellery in the Duchy of Courland 1562-1620"||1.00||0.50|
|III||Exhibition "Bauska Castle - Military Fortification"||1.00||0.50|
|I–VI||Annual ticket ***||40.00||20.00|
*** The annual ticket to the museum and its events is valid for one year from the date of purchase
Children up to 7 years
ICOM card holders
Employees of Latvia museums on presentation of supporting documents
Disabled persons (Group I) and accompanying person
Disabled persons (Group II)
On Wednesdays, special education students on presentation of supporting documents
Bauska district school students in groups organized by teachers, on presentation of supporting documents
For organized visitor group leaders (in a group > 15 persons)
|Admission fee for thematic programmes in EUR||Programme fee||Admission fee|
|Dance Lesson at the Court **||
|Dressing Culture in the Court of the Duchy of Courland ***||
|The Story of the Old Purse Pupils, grades 5 - 12||
Court Life in the Late 16th and early17th Century
The fee is determined by the expenditure estimates, according to the museum's pricelist
Newlyweds and wedding guests:
"Visit Duchess Anna"
Romantic Moment at the Tower of the Bauska Castle
* Pupils, students
** Up to 40 people group
*** Up to 30 people group
Booking of guided tours
Public Relations Specialist - Customer Service Manager
Chief museum collection keeper
Chief specialist in scientific work - art expert
03. - 03. December12:00 un 15:00
22. - 22. December19:00
The first conservation works at the ruins of the Bauska Castle took place during the period of Latvian independence between 1936 and 1939 and during the Soviet period between 1968 and 1972.
In 2000, the architects Vaclav Girsa, Miloslav Hanzl and restorer Milos Gavenda of the Czech heritage restoration and reconstruction studio "Girsa A.T.", in cooperation with the Bauska Castle Museum, developed Round I project for the conservation and restoration of the Bauska castle ruins.
For the preservation of the fortress ruins a conservative method was chosen. The task of the works was to achieve the stability of the technical condition of the ruins and to make the information about the lost building structures, which was still readable on the walls, more visible and understandable, while maintaining the unchanged visual image and silhouette of the ruins as depicted by artists and remembered by travellers and romantics in the 19th century.
For Latvia, the developed project was experimental and innovative in nature. It provided a solution for preserving the landscape and narrative value of the ruins, their visual signs and age patina, with minimal interference in the substance of the object, moreover, stopping the process of decay and ensuring the static stability of the walls. Conservation technology was based on study, management and application of the historic building materials and building techniques of the castle, along with the possibilities of modern materials and technologies.
Maintaining a roofless building is a technically difficult task. The nature and extent of conservation works, the need for reconstruction elements and the degree of intervention in the visual image of the ruins are defined by several factors, namely, the technical and static condition of the preserved masonry, the presence of authentic fragments and their informative value, and technical and technological capabilities.
During the design stage, typical destruction of masonry is identified and recorded in wall surveys, and mortar samples are analysed. The conservation project provides detailed instructions for repairing each defect, as well as detail drawings for securing the openings.
The project realisation started in 2001. Initially, the practical restoration of the walls of the castle were performed by restorers of the Czech firm “Milos Gavenda” working together with the staff of the Bauska Castle Museum. For the Latvian side, such an organisation of work provided crafts and technological training and continuity.
Starting from 2015, the Bauska Castle Museum has been permanently employing a restorer to maintain the walls, keeping track of the technical condition of the preserved volumes and preventing their destruction at its initial stage.
The funds for Round 1 conservation works were obtained by participating in the competition in the European Commission programme “Culture 2000” in 2001. The Bauska Castle ruin conservation works were financially supported by Culture Capital Foundation and the State Inspection for Heritage Protection.
The authors of the project:
architects Miloslav Hanzl, Vaclav Girsa, restorer Milos Gavenda of “Girsa a.t.” Ltd. (Czech Republic),
Research and design work for the reconstruction of the Duke residence of the Bauska Castle was launched in 1973, and practical reconstruction works for this part of the castle were launched in 1976.The restoration work was implemented under two ERAF projects for period 2007–2008 and 2011–2014.
The method chosen for the preservation of the Duke’s part of the Bauska Castle was restorative restoration where modern structures, materials and architectural parts are not used to replace the dead elements, but a professional reconstruction of the dead state is carried out on the basis of serious research.
The aim adopted in the development concept of the Bauska Castle to use the building as a castle-museum provided for resolving the functionality of the building, while maintaining the original design of the castle almost entirely intact.The main focus was on preserving and exposing authentic fragments of the building.During the restorationthe reinforced concrete constructions and wall-finishing designed during 1970-80s were corrected that was incompatible with the authentic environment of the monument.
The survey of sgraffito ornamental plaster identified all elements forming the composition of the facades, it also defined the composition of the stucco mortar and the technology and sequence of its application. The next step after the reinforcement of the fragments of the original wall-finishing was surface consolidation and restoration. Besides, full reconstruction of the eastern wing and towers, as well as the sgraffito decoration of the northern wing facades was carried out, which integrated the restored original fragments.
No finishing was detected in the southern wing facade, but a fragment of compacted plaster with lime paint in the ochre tone had been preserved, which was restored and used as a benchmark for the finishing of the reconstructed facade.
The roofs of the castle are covered with tongue-shaped tiles corresponding to the surface of the end of 16th century roof found in the archaeological excavations.
In the courtyard, the central entrance node of the Duke's residence, the outer stone stairs and the portal were reconstructed on the grounds exposed by archaeological excavations.
The original dolomite stone paving was exposed and restored throughout the grounds of the castle courtyard, with a downward slope towards the entrance gate.
263 fragments of dolomite decoration were found in the archaeological excavations. The survey of the collection identified the parts belonging to a specific object. After preservation, the original stone forgings were included in the decoration of two fireplaces, the central staircase and entrance portal.
Inside, authentic stucco fragments have been preserved and integrated into interiors as specific wall-finishing exhibits. The stored originals served as a plaster benchmark for the finishing of the reclaimed walls. All paintings on the walls were completed with lime paint, the tone being derived from the original. The stone wall was preserved by filling in stitches and eroded pits.
As a result of the archaeological excavations more than 15,000 ceramic units were found. The collection was studied with the aim to reconstruct 9 stoves. Fragments were searched in order to permit the restoration of tiles. The castings of the restored tiles were used to make matrices for producing copies. The copies of the tiles were burned in a wood kiln, the tone of the lacquers being as close as possible to the original. A total of 439 original stove tiles were restored and re-planted. It was decided to exhibit the Renaissance period stoves in the Duke's apartments and the stoves of the 1st and 2nd Mannerism period in the rooms of the Hauptmann. The early Baroque period stoves were exhibited on the second floor of the south-east tower and on the first floor of the southern wing where the largest number of these tiles had been found.
Floors of glazed ceramic tiles were restored in three of the rooms. The tiles were made manually in a ceramic workshop and burned in a wood kiln. The restored original tiles are embedded in the floors.
The design of the ceiling was adopted based on the information from the original walls, the constructive logic and the information on the typical structures and sub-assemblies of the inter-floor structures of the 16th century. According to the nature of the rooms and the description of the 17th century castle, the ceiling was left unpainted, whitewashed with lime or painted in the Duke suite in typical shades of Mannerism. Brick-walled vaults were restored in the north-east tower and the two first-floor premises of the northern wing which had preserved the traces of vaults.
As there were no functionally important building elements (windows, doors, stairs, calamities, trays, etc.) preserved on the site, they were designed using the analogy method.The windows of the castle were restored on the print left by their frames in the plaster and description in the 17th century stock-taking list. The justification behind the diversity of the stained-glass shapes of the windows in different groups of premises are the stained-glass pieces and fragments of lead fastenings found in the archaeological excavations and interpreted in the context of the stained-glass types observed in 17th century iconography.
“Girsa a.t.” (Czech Republic) Architects Miloslav Hanzl, Vaclav Girsa
Inara Caunite, architect of SIA “Arhitektes Inaras Caunites birojs”.
The Bauska Castle, from the right bank of the Memele River. 1920–30s. Photo by Rucker C.
The Bauska Castle, from the right shore of the Memele River. 2015. Photo by Hofman R.
The fortress and Vogt headquarters of the Livonian Order
The Livonian Order built the Bauska Castle in the middle of the 15th century with the aim to consolidate their power over Semigallia, to protect the border with Lithuania and control the trade route from Lithuania to Riga. The Bauska Castle was not only a fortification but also a centre of a vogtei (a district of the order), from which the Vogt (a reeve or advocate, an overlord (mostly of nobility) exerting guardianship or military protection) exercised his judicial, police, financial and military functions.
Not only local people but also several hundred representatives of small Finno-Ugric tribes, who had been brought as prisoners of war from Russia, participated in the construction of the Bauska Castle. The protocol of visits of the castles of the Order of 1451 mention the Brothers Knights Heinrich Bekenferde von Schungel, Heinrich Leve and Heinrich von Frisendorf, and 2 Brothers priests living in Bauska Castle.
Between 1536 and 1538, Burcard Waldis, an advocate of the ideas of Martin Luther, was imprisoned in the Bauska Castle prison, where, as well as later in Cesis (Wenden) and Viljandi (Fellin) Castles, Waldis translated several Latin psalms into German.
At the outbreak of the Livonian War, on 31 August 1559, a defence treaty was signed by Master of the Livonian Order Gotthard von Kettler and Polish Chancellor Nicholas Radziwill in Vilnius. Following this treaty, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth pledged to present troops at the disposal of the Livonian Order to fight Russia. In return, the Livonian Order had to temporarily transfer some frontier provinces and castles into ownership of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Bauska Castle was transferred to the King of Poland in December 1559.In 1561, the last Archbishop of Riga, Wilhelm von Brandenburg, acquired the Bauska Castle from the Poles in exchange for the Koknese Castle.
Duke's residence and court
The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia was established by the document known as Pacta subiectionis (Provisio ducalis), the treaty of obedience to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania signed on 28 November 1561. The treaty was ratified in March 1562, with the Livonian Order secularisation ceremony taking place in Riga Castle; however, as a secular duke, Gotthard Kettler swore an oath of allegiance to the King of Poland and Grand Duke of LithuaniaSigismund II August and became his vassal.
At the end of 1562, the castle was transferred to the Duke of Courland Gotthard. The extant documents indicate that between 1564 and 1567 the duke often used to stay in the Bauska Castle. In 1568, 1590 and 1601, there took place three Duchy parliaments (landtags), or meetings of the delegated landlords, where political and economic issues important to the new state were resolved. There are also extant documents attesting to the successive visits of Duke Friedrich to the Bauska Castle from 1590 to 1603.
Decision of the Landtag of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia of July 18, 1590
The Bauska Castle served as a place for the Bauska Court, which was ruled by the castle master. He had to take care of the castle and make sure that the castle had enough weapons and ammunition. The master judged criminal cases against townspeople. He had to take care of the Duke’s property in his area and also carry out various police activities such as overseeing roads, fishing grounds, forestry, etc. For his work he received both money and a payment-in-kind from manors in the form of firewood and hay. The master of Bauska had 16 crown manors under his control.
In the first half of the 17th century, there was a military conflict on the coast of the Baltic Sea, which is known in historical literature as the Polish-Swedish Wars. The real cause of the wars was the struggle for hegemony over the Baltic Sea coast. After the Livonian War, almost the entire eastern coast of the Baltic Sea fell into the hands of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
In summer 1621, threatened by the Swedes, the court of Duke Friedrich moved from the Jelgava Castle to the Bauska Castle, where it stayed until the end of the year. In summer 1625, the Swedish troops went via Koknese and Selpils to Birzai, Lithuania. From Birzai, the Swedish troops returned to Riga, then in the middle of September came to Bauska and began the siege of the castle. As mentioned in several letters written by Duke Friedrich in autumn 1625, the Swedish troops struck at the defence wall several times, but to no avail. Only using the help of the Bauska townsman Gotthard Hunt the Swedes managed to enter the castle through the window of the castle's master suite, and then the garrison surrendered. The Bauska castle master Magnus Butler was fatally wounded while defending the castle gate, and several landlords of the Bauska area were “killed in the first frenzy”. The Polish-Lithuanian troops surrounded the castle several times in 1627 and 1628, but only on 28 May the Swedish garrison surrendered. The castle fell into the hands of Polish-Lithuanians, who delayed returning the castle to the representatives of Duke Friedrich until the beginning of 1630, when the castle was taken over by Christopher von Fircks, the Chancellor of the Duchy.
In 1635, Duke Friedrich approved the rules for the Bauska town police. They mentioned that in the event of an enemy attack, the townspeople are required to come to the castle with their weapons and to serve as its guards. At the time, the garrison of the Bauska Castle housed musketeer and dragoon battalions of 100-150 people each.
In 1650 and 1652, Bauska Castle inventory protocols were drawn up. Apart from the descriptions of the castle premises,they also mentioned weapons and ammunition stored in the castle, including 48 muskets, 1 sword, 136 pikes and 20 half-pikes. Judging by the text of the protocol, in the middle of the 17th century, the modernisation of the castle fortifications was completed. The renovation of the castle and the modernisation of fortifications cost the State Treasury 12 thousand state coins (ducats).
Having gained the throne, Duke Jacob sought to continue the policy of the Duchy's neutrality established by Duke Friedrich. However, in the face of Swedish superiority he had to make concessions. In 1655, in Pasvalys, officials of the Duchy of Courland and Sweden concluded an agreement stipulating that the Swedes would be able to station a garrison in the Bauska Castle, should the necessity arise. The representatives of the Duchy hesitated to hand over the castle, moreover, the townspeople complained to the Duke about the demand of the Bauska master for the landlords to attend the guard service at the castle whenever Swedish troops appeared nearby. On 10 October 1658, Swedish troops occupied the Jelgava Castle and forced Duke Jacob to hand over the Bauska Castle too. A cavalry unit led by Lieutenant-General Frits Leve was sent to Bauska, and on 12 October, the Swedish garrison was already in the castle. The Swedish Commandment allowed the possessions of the townspeople to be kept in the castle, which could be released at the request of their owners. In the second half of 1658, there were clashes between Polish - Lithuanian and Swedish troops near the Bauska Castle. Following the conclusion of the Treaty or Peace of Oliva in May 1660, intense negotiations were held on the fate of the Bauska Castle. The Polish-Lithuanian Commandment tried to station its garrison in the castle. Under the pretext of an earlier agreement with Duke Jacob, the Swedes were interested in handing over the castle to the Duke. In mid-July, negotiations came to the point where the Swedes agreed to hand over the Bauska Castle to Polish-Lithuanian troops, on condition the Duke's representatives take part in the transfer. Before leaving the castle, the Swedes compiled a list of weapons and ammunition stockpiles in the castle. There were 18 cannons, 2 mortars, 3 howitzers and 28 operable muskets. The castle was handed over to the Duke's officials against a payment of 10,000 ducats only at the end of August.
In 1665, the garrison of the castle had one infantry squadron and a cannon unit (about 150 people). At the end of the 17th century, masters of Bauska and governors of the Bauska crown manors repeatedly appealed to the duke for money and building materials for the renovation of the castle. Still, the castle inventory report of 1698 states that most of the castle premises are unsuitable for living and the roof is rotten. The land fortifications of the castle were in a bad condition too.
At the end of 1698, Wilhelm Christoph Ringdemut was appointed the commandant of the castle garrison, at that time counting 70 men. In summer 1699, the soldiers of the castle garrison were given new uniforms and equipment.
Great Northern War, the Castle ruin
After the beginning of the Great Northern War, the Duchy of Courland was irrevocably dragged into the vortex of war. To ensure the protection of the Duchy, Duke Ferdinand tried to organise feudal troops. In summer 1700, the duke ordered castle masters to keep a register of combat-capable men and weapons. On 15 June, the commandant of the Bauska Castle garrison also received such an order. The decree stipulated that the governors of the surrounding Duke's estates should send people not only to the garrison but also to repair the castle fortifications.
After the victory at the Battle of Spilve on 9 July 1701, Swedish troops entered the territory of the Duchy and occupied Jelgava in the evening of 12 June. King Charles XII of Sweden sent Lieutenant Colonel Johann August Meyerfeld with 500 horsemen to capture Bauska. The Bauska Castle garrison surrendered on 22 June. The main forces of the Swedes together with the King arrived in Bauska on 26 July, but on 1 August the Swedish army left, leaving the infantry regiment under Nils Pose as the castle commandant, and 300 dragoons under Major Johann Reinhold von Trautfetter, as well as several hundred ill soldiers.
From autumn 1701 to end-1702, the castle underwent a modernisation of fortifications under the command of Lieutenant Marten Krammeker. The troops of the castle garrison were kept on the alert by the troops assembled by Samogitian headman Grigory Anton Oginsky and Prince Mikhail Sevaciy Koribut Vishnevsky, who were opponents of Swedish supporters. The castle was not damaged, but the delivery of the provision (food) from the manors surrounding the castle was significantly delayed. The composition and number of the castle garrison was constantly changing. If in 1702, the regiment counted 619 soldiers, then in 1703, there were only 324 combat-capable men. In 1705, the infantry regiment was transformed into a battalion.
In summer 1705, the Russian troops launched an offensive against the Swedes. In August, the Russians captured Jelgava, and in September, they sent two infantry and one dragoon regiments and an artillery unit to Bauska. After intense artillery fire, the Swedes proposed the start of peace talks, the negotiation culminating in signing a capitulation act. The Russian troops entered the Bauska Castle on 14 September. Shortly after the castle was occupied, a list of weapons and ammunition was drawn up. It showed that in the castle there were 46 cannons, 4 mortars, 8 howitzers and 370 muskets with a big amount of various ammunition, namely, a variety of cannon balls, grenades, so-called cannon shots and powder.
According to the agreement, the Swedes were released with honour, i.e. with weapons and flags. With drums beating, they were accompanied by 50 Russian dragoons till they reached Riga on September 19. The Russian troops remained in Courland until the beginning of April 1706. On 13 April, the Bauska Castle was also abandoned, having been partly blown up. After 23 June, the Swedish presence was again recorded in the Bauska Castle. Although the castle had been seriously damaged, it was still used as a storehouse for supplies, fodder (for horses) and hay. A small number of soldiers also stayed in the castle.
After the devastation of the Northern War, the Bauska Castle was no longer used as a military fortification or as a dwelling house for the governor. The fields and meadows of the manor were on the opposite bank of the Musa River, where a complex of manor buildings with the manor house in the centre had already been built in the middle of the 17th century. Gradually the castle turned into romantic ruins.
The Bauska castle restoration projects are mainly development on the materials obtained through archaeological excavations.
The first studies in the Bauska Castle ruins date back to the end of the 19th century when conducted under the supervision of the then castle owner Count Paul Lieven. In 1880 construction waste was cleared from the northern part of the courtyard, where the foundations of the balcony and stairs, several fragments of stone forgings were found, some of the artefacts found in the castle ruins were later delivered to the Museum of the Courland Province in Jelgava.
At the initiative of the director of the Museum of Regional Studies and Art of Bauska L. Liepa, in the second half of the 1960s, the construction waste was removed in several premises of the Bauska Castle and archaeological research was conducted on the northern wall. In the early 1970s, as part of the rebuilding of the Duke's residence in the castle complex, several northern and eastern wings as well as part of the pavement of the new castle courtyard were cleared of waste, thus exposing a large number of artefacts, stone forgings, stove tiles, potsherds.
Extensive archaeological excavations began in the castle in 1976 and continued until 1992. The research was led by the historian Dr A. Caune in collaboration with the Museum of Regional Studies and Art of Bauska (later – with the Bauska Castle Museum established in 1990). Since 1996, archaeological excavations have been handled for several seasons by the Bauska Castle Museum specialist J. Grube. The excavations were mainly conducted in the residence of the Dukes of the castle, the fortifications of the castle and the castle fortress.
Archaeological excavations in front of the Bauska Castle, unearthing of western moat slope. V. Leijere, 1992
Part of the Bauska Order Castle, M Gavenda and J. Grube clean the lower part of the lancet hole in the southern protective wall. V. Leijere, 2003
Studies reveal that in the Early Metal period (about 1500 years B.C.) a fortified settlement of the Balts was located on the bank of the river Memele in the location of the Bauska Castle. The excavations uncovered a part of the subterranean building with a fireplace, bone decorative pins and potsherds of the scratched pottery. Several artefacts of the late Iron Age (10th - 12th century) and a cultural layer containing non wheel-thrown potsherds were discovered under the eastern wing. Excavations revealed the location of so-called "wolf hole or pit", a type of booby trap in front of the Order Castle gates. The excavations give an idea of the eastern forepart of the Order Castle, allowed to examine a two-room extension to the eastern wall and the remains of structures on the southern wall. The study specifies the layout of the Duke's residence, the structure of the courtyard cobblestone, the foundation of the balcony and stairs, the sizes of the earth fortification structures and the construction time.
Archaeologists collected 3410 artefacts, more than 10,000 fragments of stove tiles and about 9000 potsherds in the castle's territory.
The collection contains more than 300 coins. Most of them were coined in the coin forges of Livonia and Riga in the middle and second half of the 17th century – during the rule of the Kings of Sweden Charles X Gustav and Charles XI, and the Queen Kristina. From the coins forged in the Duchy of Courland, schillings coined during the rule of the Dukes Gotthard and Jacob Kettlers have been found in Bauska Castle. There are also 15th – 17th century coins of the Livonian Order, Archbishops of Riga, bishops of Tharbata and Ösel – Wiek, the Free City of Riga, Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, as well as ducats coined in the United Provinces of the Netherlands between the 16th and 17th century.
Overijssel Ducat of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, coined in 1597, collected in the Duke’s wing toilet pit. S.Selicka (CISC), 2019
Artefacts can be divided in three groups – items related to military conflicts (a crossbow "nut", crossbow arrowheads, cannon fragments and balls, grenades, parts of musket and fusil mechanisms, flints, iron and lead bullets, etc.), samples of construction materials and architectural details (stove tiles, stone forgings, bindings, window panes, fragments of their frames, etc.), tools and household objects (millstones, chisels, files, knifes, spoons, a chessman, draughtsman, barrel taps, fragments of Dutch pipe-bowls and pipe-stems, etc.). The most valuable collections are the late 15th – early 18th century furnace tiles and the collection of decorative stone forging made at the end of the 16th century.
Monastery tile "monk" found in excavations in the Bauska Castle. S.Selicka (CISC), 2019
ronze spoon found in excavations in the east wing of the residence of the Dukes of the Bauska Castle. S.Selicka (CISC), 2019
The materials of archaeological excavations conducted from 1976 to 1982 in the Bauska Castle are stored in the Department of Archaeology of the Latvian National History Museum. The artefacts excavated during the later studies, as well as materials obtained up to 1976 are stored in the Bauska Castle Museum.
Architecture and Construction
The Bauska Castle was constructed as a defence structure and a safe accommodation for the territory administration, clerics and garrison. The oldest document from which it can be understood that the castle is still being erected was dated 1443. For the first time, the new castle was mentioned in the Livonian Order lists in 1451.
The Musa and Memele rivers blocked the access to the fortress from the south, west and north. Special measures were needed only for the protection of the eastern side. The layout and shape of the Livonian Order Castle were determined by the principles of assault and protection in the use of cannon and hand guns. The layout suggests that the Bauska Castle was an irregular rectangular building with a narrowing in the east, instead of the main gate. The outer walls of the fortress were particularly thick to stand the perilous forces of cannon guns. Five half-circular and square-shaped firearms towers were erected in the middle and corners of the defence walls. The towers and protective walls were designed with special loopholes provided for air channels and fireplaces, so that the defenders of the castle could not only transmit frontal fire, but also flanking and crossfire to protect the area adjacent to the palace. The two gate towers and their annexes were interlinked both through the basement (where the prison was also located) and through the rooms above the gate tunnel. Stairs were built inside the protective walls and wood-structure remains suggest that battle passages were in place at the top of the walls. It follows from archaeological studies that, initially a gate protection structure of 4.25 x 4.20 m had been built in front of the main gate of the castle, known as a “wolf hole”. In the 16th century, it was filled and a stone fore-part was added to the main castle in the east, with protective walls and towers grouped around an A-like courtyard. On the eastern side, the access to the forecastle was blocked by the dry defence ditch. The walls of the main castle and pre-castle were constructed from the local material, dolomite stones, boulders and bricks bound with lime mortar. The facades had been covered with stonework mortar or plastered. The interior walls have been covered with compacted plaster., the decorative shapes of the Gothic style prevailing in Livonia in the middle of the 15th century have found expression in the vaults of the residential premises of the main castle, as well as in architectural details, the traces of which are now no longer discernible.
Between 1570 and 1580, the first Duke of Courland-Semigallia, Gothard Kettler began adapting the main castle and rebuilding the forecastle into a residence fortified with bastions and ramparts that was characteristic to the period. The works were completed in 1596.
The north and east wing rooms of the residence were designed for the Duke and the court. The facades of both the northern and eastern wing and the two towers were adorned throughout with sgraffito decorations characteristic to the mannerism period. The eastern facade was crowned by a roof with a three-step gable. The southern wing was intended for the Hauptmann and his family. There was a smooth plaster on this part of the facade. In the outer wall plane of the castle, large windows protected by iron rails stood out.
In the courtyard, in the middle part of the southern facade of the Duke wing, there was a stone balcony supported by three stone columns and a staircase leading to the main entrance adorned with a portal with stone carvings. The indoor layout was entirely in line with the Renaissance architects' idea of the layout of royal residences. The halls and living rooms could be walked through. To the right of the main entrance there were the Duke's private apartments, and to the left, there were entertainment halls. At both ends of the chain of rooms there were toilets and stairs for servants which served as a back-up exit for the nobles. The plastic of the interior shapes was achieved with the deep windows in the thick walls and the rhythmic arrangement of the massive cast beams. The floors of the halls were covered with wide boards, in the Duke's apartments there were coloured, glazed clay tiles arranged in patterns, the hallway floor was made of square dolomite slabs. The glazing of the window panes was arranged in a geometric pattern were held in four-part wooden frames by lead casing. The walls of the rooms were plastered. There are indications that wallpaper, or wood panels have been used in wall decoration. Archaeologists exposed the walls on which the painting of the plinth and the remains of the ornamental mural had been preserved and found painted fragments of plaster in the cultural layer. The castles were heated by at least 14 fireplaces and 17 luxuriant glazed tile furnaces. In the Duchess' bedroom and in the great hall of celebration, fireplaces are decorated with stone carvings. The first-floor premises of the southern and northern housing were used for economic purposes.
In the castle location layout dated by 1625 on the eastern side of residence there is a protection system that consists of a rondel around the south-east tower, two, connected with a wall, bastions and ground ramparts on the banks of both rivers. The entrance to the castle field had been there through the north-eastern bastion.
Loss of the Might
During the Polish-Swedish War, Swedish troops seized and looted the castle in 1625. From now on, until the signing of the Treaty of Oliva in 1660, the Bauska Castle was periodically in the hands of the Swedish and Polish troops and was severely destroyed.
Both the archive documents and the results of archaeologist studies show that repairs had taken place in the castle in the middle of 17th century. Around the same time, the fortifications on the eastern side of the castle had been improved. The entrance to the forefield of the castle from the north-east bastion had been moved to the middle of the eastern rampage, new gates and the Anno 1650 bridge had been constructed. However, from the texts of the stock-taking protocols it can be felt that the residential premises of the Castle were still in a poor technical condition. The Duke focused mainly on maintaining the economic and military importance of the castle. In the last quarter of 17th century, the fortifications on the west side of the castle were strengthened and the reconstruction of the eastern bastions was resumed. During the Great Northern War, on 22 July 1701, the Bauska Castle was occupied by Swedish troops. On 6 August 1701, the King of Sweden, Karl XII ordered the improvement of the castle's fortifications, which was completed in 1704. The Swedes moved the land ramparts and bastions closer to the banks of both rivers, transformed the protective ditches at the ends of the land fortifications, and constructed ravelines in front of the bridges.
In September 1705, the Swedish garrison of the Bauska Castle succumbed to Russian troops without fighting. In March 1706, the Russian czar Peter I ordered his generals to raze the fortifications of the Bauska Castle to the ground. After the Northern War, the castle was no longer repaired, and it was gradually transformed into romantic ruins.
The Museum of the Bauska Castle was founded on 1 February 1990 by reorganising the local history and art museum of Bauska municipality, which formerly managed the organisation of research, conservation, reconstruction and restoration works of the Bauska Castle.
The main object and exhibit of the museumis the castle complex and the surrounding fortification systems. This focus is pursued by the mission, objectives and tasks of the Bauska Castle Museum, as well as the methods of research, collection, exhibition and communication of the Castle of Bauska.
Themission of the museum is to implement the potential of the Castle of Bauska as a cultural monument of national importance in the context of the history of Bauska, the Duchy of Livonia and Courland; to gather historical material; to carry out exploration of the Castle; to create exhibitions relevant to the history and architecture of the Castle, to perform the necessary collection, storage and restoration work as well as organisational and economic activities in relation to the restoration, exploitation and integration of the Castle complex in the cultural life, and the preservation and use of it in the cultural and educational interests of the public.
Main objectives of the museum
Exploration of the Bauska Castle, organisation and monitoring of restoration projects and restoration works
Exploration, conservation and maintenance of ruins of the Fortress of Livonia, which represents the oldest part of the Bauska Castle complex
Studying of the history of Livonia and the Duchy of Courland as well as the municipal culture of 15–17th century in the context of the Bauska Castle
Designing of displays and exhibitions relevant to the history of the Castle as well as supplementing of the existing displays and thematic exhibitions
Collection, conservation, maintenance, scientific research and promotion of the stock in compliance with the museum mission
Regular organisation of concerts, performances and thematic events, the content and presentation of which correspond to the traditions of the period when the Castle was serving its original purpose
Educational work by using displays, exhibitions and stock collections: tours, lectures, counselling, museum pedagogy programmes,
Communication with different groups of public and cooperation with other museums,
Publications on the Bauska Castle, its museum collections, displays and thematic exhibitions.
The collection of the Bauska Castle Museum consists of a number of collections, which aggregate the materials obtained from archaeological excavations as well as special objects purchased for the installation of displays in the Castle.
The research object of the museum is the Bauska Castle, its architecture, construction, its fortification system, interior decoration and fittings, public activities of persons associated with the construction and existence of the Castle; private life in the context of the Livonian Order State and the Duchy of Courland and the history of the relevant European countries; studying and exploring of the museum collections as well as 16–17th century history of fashion history, Renaissance dances, ancient trades and ways of life.
Research materials and restoration documents of the Bauska Castle are stored in the scientific archives of the museum. A depository of scientific literature comprising information resources on the history, culture and life of the Castle is being created and regularly replenished.
Projects and awards received by the Bauska Castle Museum
2001 - Project EC Culture 2000 conservation phase I of the ruins of the Bauska Castle, stabilization of the ruins of the southern and western walls, the southern prismatic tower and the western wall.
2002 - “Annual Award 2002” in the area of restoration from the State Inspection for Heritage Protection
2003 – “Annual Award 2003” in the area of restoration from the State Inspection for Heritage Protection.
2004 - The laureate's diploma in the Europa Nostra Awards 2004 contest in Bergen, for the implementation of the conservation phase of the ruins of the Bauska Castle.
2006 - Diploma of the European Heritage Association The Best in Heritage.
2006 - The Bauska Castle Museum was admitted to the Club of Excellencies of The Best In Heritage.
2006 - 2008 ERDF project “Integration of the Bauska Castle into the cultural tourism”. The first round of restoration and reconstruction of the newest part of the Bauska Castle.
2009 - 2010 LLI project “Development of active and accessible museums in Semigallia and Northern Lithuania” (repair of storerooms and purchase of furniture for the stock, installation of a lift, audioguide production, making replicas of the historic interior lighting bodies, restoration of the sgraffito decoration of north-east tower, restoration of the pavement at the entrance part of the Castle, etc.).
2011 - 2014 ERDF project “Bauska Castle – socio-economically important cultural heritage site – Renewal Round II”. (Research, restoration of the decoration of the 16th century facade, restoration of the interior of the south and north wing, restoration of the exterior stone-carved stairs and entrance portal to the Duke's apartments in the north wing and exterior wooden staircase with a shelter to the Lord of the Castle’s premises in the south wing, original 17th century cobblestone, tile furnaces, fireplaces, stained-glass windows, floor with polychrometiles of the Renaissance, Mannerism and Baroque style in the Duke's apartments).
2015 - Annual Award in Construction for the restoration of the new part of the Bauska Castle from the magazines Latvijas Būvniecība and Latvijas Architektūra, 1st Prize in the restoration category.
2015 - “Annual Award 2015”in the area of restoration from the State Inspection for Heritage Protection.
2018 - 2021 ERDF project “Maintaining and developing of major cultural and historical heritage for the development of cultural tourism offer in Zemgale region”. (Conservation of the Central Tower of the Bauska Castle, installing a viewing area, concert hall, digital display of the construction history and rehabilitation of the Memele slope and a tourist path around the Castle.)
The collection of the Bauska Castle Museum was created in 1990 by separating the part of the Bauska Museum of Local History and Art that is related to the Bauska Castle and supplementing it with the materials obtained from archaeological excavations, as well as the items specially purchased for the castle exhibitions.
The museum's collection is made up of exhibits that are both directly related to the castle and introduce an idea of the 15th-17th century castle life and its arrangement.
The Bauska Castle Collection contains archaeological material, photo negatives, slides and photographs that provide information on the architecture of the castle or reflect historical events, paintings, engravings, drawings and plans depicting the Bauska Castle, its furniture, tableware, artwork and printed matter.
At the end of 2018, the total number of Bauska Castle Museum collection items was 13,832 items, which have been systematized into several thematic collections
Collection of construction and design items - objects obtained in archaeological excavations, which are related to the castle construction and represent a range of materials used in the 15th-17th century construction works, such as different types of bricks, several types of tiles, floor tiles, plaster fragments, lime mortar samples, etc.
Stone works collection - consists of fragments of stone ornaments found in archaeological excavations in the Bauska Castle, dating back to the end of the 16th century. To systematize 263 fragments of stone artwork, the items are grouped by shape, profile and surface design.
Collection of decorative stove ceramics features late Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerism and early Baroque tiles found in the territory of the Bauska Castle and dating back to the mid-15th - early 18th century, the time of the existence of the Bauska Castle itself. Approximately 250 types of tiles are grouped and systematized by shape and relief decorations.
Archaeological collection contains mainly 16th-17th century household items, fragments of Dutch pipes, tools, potsherds and other fragments of broken dishes. There are also numerous military artefacts - bullets, grenades, cartridges and metal fragments of firearms. The oldest item in the collection - a fragment of a flint scallop - dates back to the late Palaeolithic - early Mesolithic age (8th - 9th centuries AD).
Collection of weapons contains the cast iron cannons and mortars dating back to 17th-18th centuries and made in the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, as well as 16th-17th century non-firearm weapons.
Collection of household objects- contains exhibits dating back to the 16th - 19th century and purchased predominantly in European antique shops or auction houses. The collection has been gradually supplemented with new items - household items, luminaires, furniture, etc.
Numismatic collection - consists of coins found in archaeological excavations at the Bauska Castle and dates back to the 14th - 17th centuries.
Collection of prints contains books published in the 16th and 17th centuries and in the 20th century postcards with pictures of Bauska Castle ruins.
Pictorial collection contains paintings, graphics and drawings depicting Bauska Castle ruins from the 16th to the 20th century. The collection is also complemented by applied arts and sculpture items.
Photo collection - contains local Bauska photographers J.Rucker and K.Grunberg photo materials of the late19th - 20th century, as well as photos by A.Gusars, T.Ciparsons, V.Saicans and V. Leijere.
The collection of photonegatives and slides presents the architecture of the Bauska Castle ruins and the photographic fixation of archaeological excavations from the 20ies-90ies of the 20th century.
Exhibitions and displays
The historical interiors, displays and thematic exhibitions take full advantage of the data provided by scarce descriptions of ancient inventories, archaeological evidence and materials.
Little is known about historical function and interiors of the eastern part of the castle, and that is why the hall of the second floor houses a display dedicated to the history of the Bauska Castle. The enfilade on the second floor and the northeastern tower house representation and private rooms of the Duke of Courland, including his privy chambers and utility rooms such as kitchen, cellars and horse stables. With each room decorated in accordance with its original function, their interior gives an idea of room decoration and arrangement during the Renaissance, as well as some insight into the castle life in the 16th-17th centuries. The south-eastern tower accommodates the thematic exhibitions "Costume and Jewellery in the Duchy of Courland (1562-1620)" and "Bauska Castle - military fortification", and the collection of castle decorative stone forgings and cast-iron columns in the shape of dolphins are exhibited on the ground floor of the northern block.
The oldest part of the Bauska Castle, the ruins of the castle of the Livonian Order, is temporarily closed to visitors. The large and small castle towers are undergoing conservation works and roof reconstruction, which are to be completed by the end of 2021.
The exhibition devoted to the history of the Bauska Castle found its place on the second floor of the eastern part of the castle. It is arranged in the chronological order, i.e.
The population of the site and its surroundings before the construction of the Castle of the Livonian Order;
The construction of the Castle of the Livonian Order in Bauska in the 15th century;
The construction of the Castle of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia in the 16th century; the reign of Duke Kettler and court life;
The fate of Bauska Castle during the Polish-Swedish War in the 17th century and its destruction in the Great Northern War in the beginning of the 18th century.
The displayed artefacts and materials create an insight about Bauska oldest settlements and Semigallian culture before the 13th century. The history of the Bauska Castle is based on documents of significant historical events related to the construction of the castle of the Livonian Order in the 15th century, rebuilding of the fortress of the castle for the establishment of the residence of the Dukes of Courland in the end of the 16th century. The rich display of objects found in the archaeological excavations of the Bauska Castle does not only reveal the history of its construction, its connection with military conflicts, and maps of relevant periods. The exhibition portrays the people involved, the life of castle dwellers, including the court of the Duchy of Courland. It provides information about the fate of the fortress during the Livonian War, the Polish-Swedish War and the Northern War, as well as about the beginning of the castle's exploration and reconstruction. Valuable materials and information were obtained from the collections of the Latvian State Historical Archives and the Latvian Academic Library; a part of the display are exhibits from the Bauska Castle Museum, Bauska Museum and the National History Museum of Latvia.
Exhibition concept: Ina Līne
Design: SIA “DDM”
Open since May 4, 2010.
The exhibition "Bauska Castle - military fortification" showcases Bauska Castle as a 15th-17th century military building as reflecting the development of the defence system from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 18th century. The display comprises fortification plans of Bauska Castle of the 17th century, engravings of battle scenes, military artefacts found in archaeological excavations at the Bauska Castle and mainly showing the development of weaponry during the Polish-Swedish War and the Northern War. The original 16-18th- century cold weapons, cannon and published in 1617 Johann Jacobi von Wallhausen's book on artillery warfare are from the Bauska Castle Museum collection. The fire guns are from the Cesis History and Art Museum, and the crossbow “nut”, circus, bullets and bullet mounts are from the National History Museum of Latvia.
Exhibition concept: Ina Līne,
Consultant: Jānis Grūbe
Design: SIA “DDM”
Open since May 4, 2010.
The exhibition "Costumes and Jewellery in the Duchy of Courland, 1562-1620" tells a story of the changes in fashion in the Duchy of Courland during the reign of the two generations - the first Duke of Courland, Gotthard, and his sons, Friedrich and Wilhelm, as well as it portrays the peculiarities of fashion in the clothing of the Duke's relatives in various northern European countries around the Baltic Sea in the late16th century - early 17th century. The exhibits comprise portraits of the Kettlers depicting Duke Gotthard of Courland, his family and relatives dressed in characteristic parade costumes, original 17th-century costume details and fragments, and the sewing accessories found in archaeological excavations at Bauska Castle, namely, the scissors, iron, buttons, hooks, beads, etc. The exhibition is supplemented by documents from the archives of the Duchy of Courland - a drawing of an embroidery pattern, an anti-luxury order, an invoice for fabrics, copies of costume cutouts from the 16th-17th-century printed tailor books and a set of historical costume replicas specially made for the exhibition.
Exhibits from the collections of Bauska Castle Museum, the National History Museum of Latvia and Rundale Palace Museum.
Exhibition concept: Ina Līne, Taiga Skane
Design: SIA „DDM”
Open since May 4, 2010.
Exhibitions of the interiors in the northern block
When restoring the original building elements and plasterwork and reconstructing lost elements, the interiors of the castle have been consistently taken into account. The remaining fragments can be seen on the main staircase, in doorway and fireplace mouldings and flooring. The stairs of the front entrance lead to the hallway with walk-through ceremonial halls on the left and the Duke's rooms and reception hall on the right. The reception halls and privy chambers are furnished by chests, tables, chairs, beds, lighting fixtures, fireplace accessories, etc. - all the objects typical of the Renaissance era and the function of their room. Decorated with Renaissance ornaments, mythological figures and portraits, the tiles covering the reconstructed end-16th-century stoves grant luxury to the rooms. The windows of the Duke's chamber are adorned by colourful stained-glass windows with heraldic compositions of the Duke's coat of arms, while the floor is covered by reconstructed and original colourfully glazed floor tiles.
Exhibitions of the interiors of the southern block
During the castle’s existence, the second floor of the southern block was occupied by the master's bedroom, dining room, kitchen and hall. Now, there is a concert hall where concerts, early dance classes, seminars and social events take place. Next is a gallery of copies of the Duke of Courland and his family’s portraits. Nearby is a kitchen exhibition illustrating the 16th-17th century kitchen equipment from the collection of Bauska Castle Museum, Bauska Museum and Kuldiga Regional Museum. The audience room is furnished with peculiar candleholders, a bright chandelier and a set of tapestry chairs, a scribe's desk and a master’s table. All reconstructed stoves in the southern block have original tiles built in them, whereas
the ground floor of the southern block is occupied by utility rooms, namely, a housekeeper’s room, a workshop, a stable, cellars, and a gatekeeper’s room.
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Early dance group "Galms"
The early dance group started its work at the Bauska Castle Museum in the summer of 2007. The creation of a permanent dance group was a legitimate step towards the implementation of the idea of a "live" museum, with the aim of gradually transforming the museum into a centre for the research in Renaissance and Mannerism culture and daily life, including the study, reconstruction and practical training sessions in late medieval and Renaissance dance.
Ilona Ozola, a Bauska Castle Museum specialist, has been the artistic director of the dance group since its inception. I. Ozola is engaged in the study of Renaissance culture, dance history and early dance records. She creates dance reconstructions by following the 16th - 17th century court dance master books, and is the author of all the dance programmes staged so far by the group.
She has developed dance skills and acquired international experience in early dance teaching methods under the guidance of such acclaimed dancing masters as Isabel Suri (Germany); Barbara Sparti and Lieven Baert (Russia); Bruna Gondoni, Anne Daye, Hazel Dennison and Jørgen Schou-Pedersen as well as a teacher of early music Tamsin Lewis (England).
Participants and costumes
The group is represented by museum staff as well as others who are interested in exploring cultural history, daily life and court culture of the Bauska Castle. The participants wear costumes of two different social strata of the 16th and 17th centuries. The costumes of the courtiers are based on the costumes seen on the court, representative portraits of historical figures, where each of the historical costume wearers has been related to the family of the Kettler, Duke of Courland and Semigallia. The costumes of commoners or ordinary townspeople are also different for each dancer, and they are based on the images from the engravings and paintings of the period. All costumes are made by following the sewing patterns selected in historical tailors' pattern books.
Performances and events
“Galms” has performed at the Bauska Castle as well as at various events - Museum Night, Fencing Tournament, Tour Season Opening Days, Renaissance Music Festival and more. The group has also given performances elsewhere in Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic.
Several performances have been staged in collaboration with various Latvian early music bands - Gaurata Gaura, Ludus, Inegalite Mistique, Trakula and with some individual musicians - Lenards Gotlubs, Līga Jeleviča and Māris Jēkabsons.
Dance programmes are rooted in the historical period as well as dancing manners - court dances or dances of commoners - city dances. Dance programmes become the medium to attractively inform the audience about the social life, relationships, traditions and manners typical of the Renaissance period. The performances are usually accompanied by appropriate props, accessories, costumes, stories, and theatrical scenes.
Since 2013, the early dance group “Galms” has been staging a new performance almost every year. Each performance has a theme and script, historical props, invited musicians and guest artists. These theatrical productions have now moved from the castle ceremony hall, where they took place in the early years, to the courtyard of the New Castle.
The 2013 Opposto programme (from Italian "opposites") contrasted the dance styles of two different social strata - one showcasing the graceful, fine dance of the courtiers, the other - dances of commoners or city dances performed in a more casual and relaxed manner and in towns people costumes.
The 2014 Parade of Planets programme was designed to present Renaissance attitudes to myths and ancient deities, as well as provide a glimpse into the court festival celebration culture. The 15th and 16th centuries dance recordings by Italian choreographers were used for the performance. In a sense, the performance was like an allegorical parade of planets - gods and other mythical figures.
The 2016 Festa Vitaprogramme or "Celebration of Life" was based on the dances and choreographies compiled in the book “The English Dancing Master” (1651) by John Playford. The dances reflected the daily life of the townspeople - cooking, cleaning the house, babysitting, etc. social activities. The 17th century was a gloomy time in England, with people enjoying dance more than ever before and seeing it as one of the most enjoyable leisure activities.
The 2018 Ignis programme was devoted to the allegory of fire, and the theme of fire, the scenography and lighting of the performance was restricted to natural light, candles. Various props such as torches and swords were used to diversify the performance.
The 2019 Lost Paradise programme focused on the story of the discovery of the New World at the end of the 15th century, or Columbus's voyage to America. The props appropriate for the period - golden snail necklaces, Columbus ship, indigenous costumes, throne of the Spanish royal couple, etc., as well as floral and fruity decorations in line with the theme and historical period, were prepared. Vecumnieki Music and Art School choir Via Stella participated as a guest performer. Moreover, special masterclasses for musicians and dancers under the guidance of professional masters from England - Tamsin Lewis and Hazel Denison - were organized.
- Bauska Castle VII Fencing Tournament “Ius gladii”
- "Vivat Curlandia!"17. - 18.07.2021
- "VIVAT CURLANDIA" 18.-19.07.2020.
- Opening of the Bauska Castle tower weathervanes 19.06.2020.
- "Vivat Curlandia!" 20.-21.07.2019.
- Wreaths in Renaissance (06.07.2019.)
- Livonian Order Castle large tower roof rafter celebration (28.10.2019)
- Christmas ball in Livonia (28.12.2019)