Not having written about any castles in a while, I am not sure my mindset is the same as it was beforehand. I have also been to quite a few historical sites over the last few months, so I am talking from a more general point of view.
Sigulda — or Segewold as it was known beforehand — was an incredibly important Livonian fortress. Not only was it one of the better-fortified sites (and the natural geography of the area is absolutely superb: I would not have wanted to be attacking Segewold in its heyday), but it was also part of the corridor of Order-owned forts which connected their fiefdoms of the north to the south. The neighbouring castles in their majority were owned by the Archbishop of Riga — an enemy at worst, and an unwelcome ally at best.
The castle itself is impressive though there are significant gaps in the fortifications that have survived the centuries. The reconstructed tower at the far end is quite a nice touch, however, and gives us a potential glimpse into what the place could have been like in the olden days.
What else comes to mind? I am quite curious about how they used to transport things up into the castle — as the river was very close to the territories of the Archbishop whose castles guarded the other flank of the valley. Surely the Knights had to have had some kind of a system to ensure that any cogs coming up the river would reach them in safety? I don’t know about that as there was no remaining evidence, at least.
I quite enjoyed the gatehouse which is also the other somewhat restored area of the castle. It makes sense, at least, for the view from the newer mansion house towards the castle makes for some pretty good scenery. The rebuilt woodwork also allowed for a better understanding of the castle’s capabilities as well as what sort of skills the people inside had to use on a regular basis to maintain their habitation.
Of its history?.. Originally built by the Brethern of the Sword in 1207, the place passed to the Livonian chapter of the German Order when the former were annihilated at the Battle of the Saule. The castle gained it’s territorial grand status in 1290 when the Land Marshal moved in, making this one of the most important places in Livonia. The castle lost most of its military importance in the 17th century, after passing to the Commonwealth in the Livonian War and to the Swedish after that.
A very brief overview, really, as the adjacent manor house suggests, but I hope it brings forth the grandeur of the place in at least a passing manner.