Krustpils Castle in Latvia, description and photo

Krustpils Castle

Krustpils is one of the few medieval monuments in Latvia.

Formerly in the possession of the Livonian Order, and several centuries later the Polish king, today the manor is known as a historical museum. The appearance of the mysterious ghost of the brown-robed lady and other mystical events also attracts fans of scary stories.

Historical events of Krustpils Castle

It is presumed that the castle on the right bank of the Daugava existed already at the beginning of the 13th century. Its defensive structures and the moat have not been preserved up to now. According to another version, the fortress under the Livonian Order appeared here only a century later. It ended up in the hands of the Polish monarch in 1561.

The fortress, which was repeatedly besieged, was necessary to protect the eastern trade routes.

Earlier Riga’s archbishop’s residence was located here.

During the Northern War battles the castle was significantly damaged.

In the 18th century necessary restoration works were carried out. A new building with towers in baroque style was added to the castle. As for the general architectural plan, the closed courtyard, typical for medieval buildings, was preserved.

At the end of the next century its interiors amazed the numerous guests with luxury.

Over time the fortress lost its strategic importance and was converted into a rich palace, which in the course of three centuries, starting in 1585, was owned by the noble family of Korff. The commander Nicolas von Korff received it as a reward for valor and bravery in battle.

During the First and Second World Wars military units were located here. After Latvia was occupied by the Nazi German forces, the fortress was temporarily turned into a hospital.

In 1944 it was taken over by the Soviet Union. After the war the once magnificent castle served as a storehouse for weapons, uniforms, and ammunition.

At the end of the last century Krustpils Castle was given to a historical museum. Now there are interesting exhibitions, telling about the feats and disappointments of the rich past of these lands. You can also see rare propaganda leaflets and posters from the Soviet times. But of course, a walk through the dungeons, with preserved cross vaults, is of particular interest.

There is an opportunity for visitors to climb the tower, which dates back to the 16th-17th century. At the time when the castle was governed by the Korf family, it was used to view the surrounding area.

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There are several legends about the construction of the castle. One of them describes the process of construction, which at the beginning did not bear much fruit. The knights, without thinking twice, attributed the problems to otherworldly forces. How else to explain the fact that the stones laid by the workers were scattered all around the area the next day. The landowners tried to cope with the unclean spirit in different ways – they read prayers and blessed the place. When that didn’t work, they decided to negotiate by giving up some of their savings. When all methods had been tried, on the advice of the sorcerer they sacrificed a man. They immured one of the builders alive in the walls of the castle, which, by the way, was not uncommon in the Middle Ages. After that, all the trouble hindering the construction of the manor ceased.

Another legend is also associated with evil forces. It was on the order of Bishop Nicholas of Magdeburg that a cross appeared above the entrance to the fortress, designed to protect all who would come to the monastery from the machinations of Satan. That is why the manor was originally called Kreuzburg, which means Castle of the Cross.

Nowadays, many visitors are interested in the ghost of a lady appearing in brown robes. She is said to be the lost soul of the maid of the Korf family. The young gentleman was in love with her and even intended to marry her. It is not difficult to imagine the reaction of the noble relatives at the choice of a commoner. After money and entreaties had no effect on the girl, the poor girl was simply walled up in one of the castle walls. Now from time to time in one part of the manor can be heard howling and clinking of dishes. Mostly traces of her presence are noticed in the evening, and cell phones, cameras and other equipment stop working. And if you manage to personally encounter the ghost, then, as eyewitnesses promise, happiness in love relationships is guaranteed.

This story attracts newlyweds to the castle. If on the wedding day they look into the ancient mirror with a carved frame, the husband will always see his chosen one as a young girl.

Before balls and receptions, Lady Korf used to put on her makeup just in front of it. After all, according to this custom, those who have not found a mate will become especially popular with the opposite sex.

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The mystique of Krustpils Castle

Everyone knows: every decent castle with a solid history should have its own ghost. Such an attraction increases its attractiveness by times, not to mention the cost. Krustpils Castle in Latvia is no exception.

GOD, DEVIL AND SACRAL SACRIFICE

For 777 years Krustpils Castle has been standing on the right bank of the River Daugava. During the past centuries it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, had many owners, witnessed and participated in many historical events. The castle witnessed the offensive of Ivan the Terrible and the retreat of Napoleon; it was a military hospital for the Germans and then the Soviet soldiers; it served as a garrison, a school, a house and even a movie set.

It is impossible to imagine how many human fates it has experienced in its lifetime, how many intrigues, tragedies and dramas played out within these walls. It’s even strange that Krustpils, having such a rich history, received only one ghost during all its life. But what a ghost! Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce: the Lady in Brown!

The Lady in Brown is the main attraction and the main inhabitant of Krustpils Castle. Mostly people go here to see her, as a guest prima from a famous theater. And when they find themselves in the castle, they inevitably fall under the charm of the old walls. There is a lot to see and hear here. And the castle’s more than 700-year history is not only interesting, but also magical and fascinating. So take your time – we can always make it to the Dame. Krustpils has many other secrets and mysteries!

Krustpils is modern name of the castle, but originally it was built as Kreuzburg, i.e. “castle of the cross”. But what does it mean? There is nothing cross-shaped in the drawings of this structure. It turns out that in 1237 the first owner and initiator of the construction – Riga bishop Nikolai of Magdeburg – ordered to inscribe a cross over the entrance to protect future inhabitants from evil forces.

According to another version, the way to the dark forces was blocked by a large stone cross, installed at the entrance. Unfortunately, neither has survived to this day, but it must be admitted that they have adequately fulfilled their mission: after all, the castle stands to this day.

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However, the guarding cross appeared later, while the construction of the walls was not without mysticism.

Legend tells us that the beginning of construction was accompanied by a serious problem. The place was chosen, the work began to boil. But here’s the problem! No matter how many stones were laid by the stonemasons during the day, in the morning all of them were scattered around. This went on for quite a long time until the builders realized that the devil had done something wrong.

They did everything to get rid of the devil – offered money, prayed all night long and put crosses around. Nothing worked! Finally a wise but apparently not very humane man suggested that we must sacrifice someone to placate the unclean.

The choice fell on a simple peasant; he was drunk and walled up in the foundations of the main tower of the castle. And from that moment on, the construction went smoothly: apparently, Satan accepted the gift, for he no longer hindered it.

The main tower itself eventually acquired a reputation as a miracle-working tower. There is a wish bell at the very top, and everyone who has something to dream about rushes there. It is very simple: to make a wish come true, one must kneel down, throw a coin into a copper basin and ring the bell. That is all! But, they say, the result is guaranteed.

A HORSE IS NO COMPANION TO A PIG.

Riga’s bishops were forced out of Krustpils by the Knights of the Livonian Order. And those were later thrown out the door by the Poles. The Russians also made their mark there during the Livonian War. The castle changed hands many times until finally, at the will of Polish king Stefan Bathory the castle ended up in the hands of baron Nikolay von Korff. It happened in 1585. The Korfs proved to be strong masters – the castle remained in their possession for over three hundred years, until the First World War. They left a good, though somewhat eccentric, reputation.

They say that all the von Korffs were of singular intelligence, were not simple in character and were fond of women. True, with marriage, as a rule, was not in a hurry. But for the time being they indulged in other kinds of amusements: for example, betting. One of the von Korfs once had a bet with his neighbor about whose horses were better. No one wanted to concede. But Von Korf was so angry that he said, “My pigs run faster than your horses! Wanna bet?” – “You bet!” The neighbor happily agreed, anticipating an easy victory.

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Von Korff, however, came to his senses the next morning and realized that he had made a great fool of himself. But here he was saved by von Korf’s famous wit. He invented and realized a brilliant idea: he ordered the wolf-skins to be hung all along the route, where the competitions of pigs and horses were to take place. As a result, the horses, smelling the scent of predators, darted away in terror and refused to run, while the baron’s gauntlets trudged along the track as if nothing had happened and eventually finished first.

THE SECRET OF ETERNAL ATTRACTION

If you happen to visit Krustpils, you will hear many interesting stories. And at the same time, you will certainly be shown the so-called Baroness Mirror. It looks nothing special – a simple mirror in a carved frame on the dressing table. However, it has a magical property: it prolongs a woman’s youth in the eyes of her husband.

The key to success is to come to Krustpils on your wedding day and look through the magic glass together – let the newly wedded spouse admire the young wife. If he sees her reflection in this mirror, then in his eyes she will forever remain as young and beautiful as on the day of the wedding.

And is it any wonder that Krustpils has become a real Mecca for newlyweds: what woman does not dream of maintaining eternal beauty and youthfulness? Even if only for one man. For those of the fair sex, who have not yet got a soul mate, it is also useful to look in the magic mirror: there will be no shortage of suitors. In any case, all baronesses did it before balls in order not to miss a single dance. Though, of course, even without a mirror these ladies could not complain of a lack of attention.

The Von Korfs were usually happily married (thanks to the mirror) and pampered their wives as best they could. One, for example, knowing how much his wife adored horses, bought her a magnificent horse for her birthday. And at the same time, he bought her a new carriage. He decided to arrange a surprise: here baroness wakes up, goes to breakfast, passes through the front hall. And there – a luxurious carriage and horse!

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One problem: the state room, like the Baroness’s bedroom, is on the second floor with a very steep staircase. But there are no obstacles to true love, especially when you are a rich baron with many servants. The carriage was taken apart and put back together upstairs, but history says nothing about how the horse was brought upstairs. The main thing is that the surprise was a success and the smitten Baroness was very pleased with the gift.

THE LADY IN BROWN

Alas, not all lovers of von Korfov was so lucky. One of the young barons had the misfortune to fall in love with a girl-servant. He was extremely determined to get married! The family, of course, in a panic. No arguments had any effect on the man in love, and he was unable to buy off the girl with money.

So they resolved the matter drastically by luring the girl into the underground dungeons that had been built by the bishop of Riga and immuring her there. But it did not work at all to get rid of the failed bride – since then she wanders around the castle at night, and on that wing where the baron’s kitchen used to be, and now there is a cafe and a bar: she rattles dishes and sighs.

Museum workers say the Lady in Brown appears as soon as the door closes behind the last visitor. She is not too frightened of the staff, and they are more likely to welcome her. She does not do any harm, except that she does not like modern technology: they have long been used to the fact that computers are constantly failing by themselves, and then also inexplicably fixes them, cell phones do not work, cameras and dictaphones malfunction.

But these are all little things that are not even worth paying attention to. Seeing the lady in brown is considered to be a good omen: they say that she, who has not known happiness in love herself, is happy to bring it to others. Therefore night excursion through Krustpils castle dungeons enjoys stable popularity. What if you are lucky, and she once failed bride, and now the true mistress of the castle, who survived all her enemies and enemies, decides to arrange someone’s fate? And why not?

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