Ordensburg Arrasch (Araiši)

Arrasch is a site which is more known for its pre-Christian lake dwelling reconstruction, but the locale also hosted an Ordensburg for many centuries — and indeed this is what I was hoping to describe here. The truth is, however, that we know very little about this place under the order and the ruins which are extant today do not create a mighty impression. We are truly talking about a smaller holding in between the major castles of Cesis (Wenden) and Sigulda (Segewold) with the Order properties hemmed in on either side by the Archbishop of Riga.

The gatehouse is in ruins…

The construction is believed to have started in the late 13th century, and if the aforementioned theory about this being a kind of signpost that the Order still exists — let the Archbishop be looking — this makes sense as it is in this time that the last heathens were subdued. The same also led to the internal rivalries in Old Livonia becoming more ferocious as no new lands were to be gained from fighting external enemies.

No trove of information is available though about the elder years and it is the Livonian War, which in its thorough reorganisation of Old Livonia, features in this story next. Arrasch, unlike so many of its brethren, did survive this trying period and continued its existence as a Polish centre of administration (the local starost resided here). The Muscovite forces conquered this area as they did most of the lands here, and they imprisoned the populace. However, a local of the name Johann Bühring led a band of 400 men in a reconquest of Araiši but also Turaida.

The next time the castle comes into history is in 1701 when it was still intact and used by the Swedish Army as an encampment after they strained themselves in driving the Saxons out of Cesis. The following century, however, witnessed the decline and fall of the castle, with the modern place featuring minor walls and a broken gatehouse. The wall the faces the lake is of little import though many lines can be traced in the earthwork around the place.

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