This is a challenging route for those who aren’t used to climbing the steep slopes of Sigulda, but it’s well worth it for the truly breath-taking splendour of nature, pristine and turbulent creeks, sandstone outcrops and caves just outside the town. The steep slopes are breathtakingly capturing not only literally, but also in terms of stunning photos. The starting and ending point of the route is the heart of the city – the Sigulda Castle Quarter. The route is not marked, but there are signposts pointing out natural and tourist attractions.
1. Sigulda Castle Quarter. Right here, in the strategically planned and vibrant landscape location you will find the traces of Sigulda town origins. Built in the 19th century, the Sigulda Castle Quarter has become a favourite holiday destination for Sigulda’s residents and visitors after its extensive reconstruction works.
Sigulda New Castle. A unique pearl of Latvian architecture with an interior in the style of National Romanticism! The New Sigulda Castle is an architectural monument of national importance, and in 1937, following a reconstruction project by the architect Alfrēds Birkhāns, it was considered as the most splendid Writers’ Castle Manor in Europe. Visitors can explore the castle’s expositions, its luxurious hallways, exhibition halls and climb the tower for a scenic view, while in summer they can enjoy concerts on the photogenic castle manor terrace.
Sigulda Livonian Order Castle. The Livonian Order castle built by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, is the oldest of the region’s castles. Its construction started in 1207. Today you are welcome to ascend the Northern or Southern tower and from the top enjoy the wonderful views over the ancient Gauja River Valley, to feel the medieval aura walking along the front ramparts, as well as attend large-scale open-air events camouflaged amidst the historic castle walls.
Creative workshops – this is where memories are made with your own hands! The Castle Quarter is home to many creative companies offering artist workshops, the opportunity to try your hand at making Namējs rings, writing exquisite letters, creating leather goods, making Sigulda’s most famous souvenir – the walking stick, and much more!
2. The Cross Hill. Archaeological research has shown that the relatively unremarkable hill is the oldest known habitable place in these surroundings – the “cradle” of Sigulda roots. At the end of the 19th century, the hill was called the Alexander’s Hill, and in the 1897 guidebook of J. Vistucis, the hill was also called the Imperial Hill after the Russian Emperor Alexander II, who visited Sigulda in 1862 and for locals made a special viewing platform on the hilltop overlooking the ancient valley of Gauja River. This guidebook also mentions the fact that “there used to be a large wooden cross here”. Apparently, this is where the current name of the hill comes from. Locals also call this hill Karātavkalns (The Hanging hill) and Miroņkalniņš (The Dead men hill).
3. The Water tourism camp near Gauja “Vējupīte”. This will be a useful stop not only for boaters but also for hikers looking for a picnic spot and a campfire. An outdoor dry toilet is available on site.
4. The Bridge over the Vējupīte river. To continue exploring the Vējupīte creek ravine, head in the direction of Peter’s Cave, but after crossing the bridge over a small creek – the road on the left leads along the Gauja River to the town of Līgatne, 17 km away. The Vējupīte valley seems to cut through the left bank of the ancient valley of the Gauja River, hiding some impressive rock outcrops, small waterfalls and caves along the banks.
5. The Peter’s Cave. The cave, that got its name from legends, is hidden from the eyes on the left bank of the Vējupīte river valley. It is a narrow, high crevice formed in the red sandstones of the Gauja Formation, high above the river level, and is considered something between a small gorge and a cave. The cave is 6.3 metres long (only 4 metres below the sandstone ceiling), up to 6.4 metres high and 2.3 metres wide. We ask visitors to remember that all caves are located in the territory of Gauja National Park and that ancient geological natural monuments should be treated kindly with respect.
6. The Satesele Ancient Settlement Hill or the Hill of Livs is a witness to the oldest settlement in Sigulda. The site was fortified by an eight-metre-high, 75-metre-long moat. In the early 13th century fierce battles between local Livs tribes and German knights took place here. Today it is a lovely place for walks with swings and views over the wooded area.
7. The Satesele Canyon. As a hidden natural treasure, the canyon is perhaps less popular among the mass visitors, but is, nevertheless, equally beautiful with its red rocks and sandstone gorge with a spring nearby.
8. The Raven Ravine and Cave. The Raven Ravine was formed as a small triangular cave in dark red middle Devonian sandstone. Its name comes from an old legend. The maximum height of the ravine is 11.5 metres and its high vertical walls are covered in engravings that are not permitted today.
9. The Paradise Hill or Painters’ Hill is a scenic spot, overlooking both the Tower of Turaida Castle and the natural landscape up to 12 kilometres away. It is a particularly popular spot during the colourful autumn leaf fall.