Turaida CastleTuraida Castle. Turaida Museum-Reserve is located 50 km northeast of Riga, on the right bank of the picturesque river Gauja. It covers an area of ​​41 hectares, on which there are 37 historic buildings and structures. At the Forum of European Museums in Barcelona, ​​the Turaida Museum-Reserve was awarded a special diploma of recognition for achievements and a sign of the laureate, which is awarded annually to the 10 best museums in Europe. According to statistics, it is visited by about 170 thousand tourists a year. Turaida Castle, one of the most popular historical museum complexes in Latvia.

In 1214, on the orders of the Bishop of Riga, Albert Buxhevden, who founded the future capital of Latvia – Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava 13 years earlier, the Bishop Philip founded the Turaida Castle. When the construction of the castle was completed, it was named “Fredeland”, which can be translated from German as “Peaceful Land.” The German name was not rooted in the Livonian land, but the name Turaida, which in the language of the ancient Livs meant “Divine Gardens”, was preserved and has survived to this day.

Castle Turaida retained its strategic importance for many subsequent centuries. But after the fire of 1776, the castle almost completely burned out. In the early 19th century. In the courtyard of the medieval fortress an estate was constructed: residential buildings, stables, barns and other outbuildings were erected. In 1924, the Board of the Society for the Protection of Monuments introduced the ruins of the Turaida Castle into a list of historical objects protected by the state. The restoration of the medieval fortress began only after the end of World War II, almost 200 years after the death of the castle in the fire of a fire. Restoration was started in 1953 and the first tower of the castle was restored.

Large-scale archaeological excavations and scientific research were developed on the territory of the castle in 1974. Since 1976, the work was led by Honorary Member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences Professor Janis Graudonis. Among the approximately five thousand ancient finds made during archaeological excavations, the most interesting are:

  • several ancient furnaces,
  • brewery,
  • bath with a well,
  • about three dozen copper and silver coins and even one gold ducat,
  • metal arrowheads,
  • clay dishes,
  • nails for horseshoes, etc.

Of particular interest are the aforementioned furnaces, the principle of heating of which was used even in public baths in ancient Rome. The warm air of the furnaces of the Turaida castle rose through special emptiness in the brickwork and spread through the walls and under the floors of a medieval fortress, perfectly heating the rooms.

A scientific description of the found items takes about 1000 pages of text. In addition, the participants in the excavation compiled about 500 different plans and schemes, and made about 7,000 photographs.

The completely restored main tower of the fortress, reaching a height of 26 meters, is now used as an observation deck for numerous tourists. From the top floor of this unique tower offers a stunning view of the most beautiful surroundings, not accidentally nicknamed for its beauty by the Latvian Switzerland.

Very narrow and low passages with stone steps lead to the observation deck. The width of these moves hardly exceeds 0.5 meters, and the height is a little over 1.5 meters. In addition to the observation tower, fortified walls, the Semicircular Tower, the North Tower and the Southern Tower Tower are also restored. And in the restored and restored former economic building, since 1962 the Turaida Museum-Reserve has been located.

The archaeological excavations and scientific researches begun almost half a century ago do not stop in the Turaida site until today, and more and more new finds constantly replenish the museum fund, whose exposition is open to visitors all 365 days a year.

Turaida Castle became one of the centers of cultural life in Latvia. Concerts of ancient and modern music are constantly held here, numerous folk and ethnographic festivals are held, various exhibitions and many other cultural events are organized. Craftsmen work in the courtyard of the castle.
The castle was reconstructed at the turn of 20-21 centuries.

The Legend of the Turaida Rose

In the spring of 1601, Swedish troops captured the Castle of Turaida. After the battle, the palace scribe Greif found a starving girl among the dead. Greif brought the girl home and undertook to raise her. It was in May, so the girl was called Maya.

Years passed, Maya grew up and became a beautiful girl. Because of its beauty, the people called Maya Turaida Rose. On the opposite shore of Gauja, in the Sigulda Palace lived her fiancé gardener Victor Hale. In the evenings they met in the cave of Gutman. To please his bride, a young gardener dug a small cave to the left of Gutman’s cave. While waiting for his bride, he decorated this cave with flowers. Even today it is called the cave of Victor.

At this time, among the mercenaries in the castle of Turaida were two deserters of the Polish army – Adam Yakubovsky and Peteris Skudritis. Both served quite well, but they were drunk, they were slovenly, rude and superstitious. Therefore, the manager of the castle intended to dismiss them soon.

Adam Yakubovsky, keen on the beauty of Maya, tried to get closer to her. But not promises, not threats, did not help. Maya also rejected his proposal. This aroused hatred in Yakubovsky. He decided to take revenge and seize Maya by force. Петерис Скудритис has agreed to help.

August 6, 1620 Maya received the news (allegedly from Victor Hale) with an invitation to immediately appear in the cave Gutman. Arriving at the meeting place, Maya saw Yakubovsky and Skudritis and realized that she was deceived. Adam Yakubovsky immediately attacked the girl, tore her dress and in daring words announced that he intended to do with Maya. The girl struggled hard, but when Skudritis grabbed her from behind behind her shoulders, Maya was defeated. Falling, the girl loudly called to the Lord, but then rose to her feet again and in great excitement shouted to Yakubovsky: “Leave me alone! I will give you the greatest gift that no king can give.” Yakubovsky for a moment let the girl go and asked what kind of gift it would be. Maya unleashed her light red handkerchief that was thrown around her neck and gave it to Yakubovsky, saying that it was a magic handkerchief, and when Yakubovsky would tie it to himself, no one could injure him with a spear or sword. Adam at first did not believe and said that even if the armor can not protect it, then such a trinket as this handkerchief of this also can not, and tried to grab the girl again. Then Maya cried: “Stop, now you will see for yourself the strength of the handkerchief, I’ll tie it in. The sword is with you, cut it off with all your might and you will not do me any harm.”

Adam took his sword, which before that lay on the ground. for this time the girl threw a handkerchief, crossed her arms and, looking up, quietly to herself whispered something. Skudritis saw it as spells. Adam, saying the following words:

When the mortal remains of the fallen from the strange hand of Maya were buried with all the honors and observing Christian customs, the grieving groom himself installed a cross on her grave and read a prayer. Soon after that, Hale left this country forever and returned to his homeland in Württemberg, because his broken heart here could not find peace.

Destined to the devil, the body of the murderer Adam Yakubovsky, together with his weapon and sword, was buried in a deep swamp near the estate of Nurmizhi. Петерис Скудритис has stayed in prison of 4 months and has shown during this time a deep repentance. After all this, the royal land court decided to immediately release Skudritis from custody and, without imposing another punishment, to send him across the Lithuanian border back to his homeland.

The legend of the Turaida Maya was introduced into the literary revolution by a member of the Vidzeme court court Magnus von Wolffeld. In the middle of the 19th century, when the Riga Palace was rebuilt, ancient archival documents of the Vidzeme court court were found in its underground cellars. Among them was also the message of the wife of the manager of the Turaida castle about the murder at Gutman’s cave. The materials of the court case indicate that the basis for the legend can lie in the true event.

Over time, the truthfulness of the forensic materials published by Magnus von Wolffeld was continuously contested. First, because instead of the court record, the material was transferred. The documents themselves, which are based on the publication of Magnus von Wolffeld, no one else has seen. It is also proved that the plot of a woman with a magic handkerchief is not something exceptional. In legends, epics and chronicles of other peoples, such stories were described as early as the beginning of the 14th century. But even more serious researchers admit the possibility that such a tragedy of Turaida Maya at the beginning of the full superstition of the 17th century could well be a real event.

In the same year, 1848, the poem of the Baltic German poet, the poet Adalbert Kammerer, appeared in Turaida. Adalbert Kammerer was only a mediocre poet, cleverly folding poetry, but with traditional poetic thinking, without deep feelings. He depicts a plot with romantic ornaments, extreme pathos, often invoking different ancient deities and glorifying everything German. Turaida Maya for him, first, a German girl, who is more noble than the ancient heroines. This poem, which is completely alien to the Latvian environment and in which real creativity is not visible, is today covered with the dust of oblivion.

In Latvian literature, the legend of the Turaida Rose came with the narrative “The Turaidian Maiden” written by Juris Daugem in 1856, which was published in the following year – 1857. Working on this story, he used both of the above works. But Юрис Дауге has given a plot the Latvian sounding and condemned violence against the fair, not protected person. For him, the main thing is not that Turaida Rose was a noble German, but the fact that she was a simple, young, honest and loving girl who, for love’s sake, would better go to her death than lose her honor. Therefore, the story of Juris Dauge “Turaida maiden” has the character of independent work. In the 19th century, he experienced 4 editions in the Latvian language. The last time the story was published in the Latvian language in 1987, which confirms that this work has stood the test of time. It is translated into other languages. The translation of Juris Dauge’s book into Estonian was published already in 1865 in Tartu without the author’s surname. He was followed by other publications.

In the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, many authors reproduced the legend of the Turaida rose, but only a few works had a sufficient artistic level and found viability.

In 1926, Rainis wrote the play “Love is stronger than death,” which was shown in the production of Eduard Smilgis in the following year by the theater Daille. The play of Rainis, and with her the legend of the Turaida Rose, gained immense popularity. People began to visit Turaida to lay flowers to the grave of Maya. Rainis, according to his statements in 1927, did not dispute the truthfulness of the legend: “Maya Greif, in her heroic death, occupies a very bright, definite place in the history of our culture.” Her noble personality – forgotten at the time when we forgot ourselves – will not disappear more in the memory of the people.In Maya, an ordinary man rises to heroism, showing that the people are based on high mental strength, but often only in a latent latent state. “We can be proud of such a personality in our history.” Rainis’s play was shown often, it was put both professional and amateur theaters. Representations of the play were given in the courtyard of the castle of Turaida.