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Due to its hilly location, Sigulda is referred to as the Switzerland of Vidzeme. The town provides a great deal of fascination, thanks to its landmarks, its opportunities for indulging in outdoor recreation, and the culture and wild nature that takes one’s breath away and shows one the true beauty of Latvia.
Sigulda is situated on the banks of the River Gauja, 53km from Riga, and its borders also encompass the historic centres of Turaida and Krimulda. The vicinity of Sigulda is part of the Gauja National Park, so the town is surrounded by woods, while the banks of the River Gauja are dotted with sandy caves. The highest viewing points in town overlook Latvia’s picturesque wild nature.
The history of Sigulda began in the eleventh century when Finno-Ugric tribes - the Livonians -the indigenous peoples of Latvia, built settlements on the territory of the present Sigulda. In this area Livonian traditions and culture were strengthened, making modern Sigulda one of the most Latvian towns in the country.
For Passers-By and Visitors
When passing through Sigulda those sights that really should not be missed include the following:
- Aerial Cabelway - the only cable car in the Baltics. It overlooks an amazing landscape which contains three mighty castles, a bobsleigh track, and a view of the ancient valley of the Gauja which can be seen for miles and miles. The cable car is also used for bungee jumping;
- Turaida Museum Reserve - which includes the Folk Song Park, Turaida Manor, Turaida Church and church hill, and Turaida Castle which was built in the thirteenth century;
- Gūtmaņala (Gutman’s Cave) - the biggest cave in the Baltics - a grotto which has been shaped by the current of the River Gauja and by underground springs, making it an ancient cult site and the source of a great many legends.
Other sights in Sigulda include:
- New Sigulda Castle - a pearl of neo-Gothic architecture which is surrounded by the work of Latvian architects and artists throughout the ages.
- Livonian Order Sigulda Castle - the castle was built in the Middle Ages and is a great place for taking a walk around the walls of the castle and a look at the exhibits that are on display. It is also used as a venue for concerts and events;
- Bobsleigh track - 1420 metres of track which is one of the few tracks in Europe that is open not only to professional athletes but also to visitors to the town.
During the winter season the ski slopes and bobsleigh track host international competitions and events and are highly demanded. In summer the options are boating down the River Gauja, using the various cycling routes, negotiating obstacle routes in the treetops at adventure parks, and visiting the Aerodium vertical wind tunnel in which you can fly, literally.
Cultural enthusiasts will enjoy the international Sigulda Opera Music Festival that stages world famous operatic performances on an open air stage in the castle. The Blues Festival is the biggest blues event in the Baltics, one that also gathers together artists who are globally recognised. Your senses will be heightened by the town’s historical aura and location - even ancient compositions will be performed in new, personal interpretations.
The A2 Vidzeme road and a railway line both pass through the town, providing bus and train connections with Riga. There is also a train connection with Valga in Estonia.