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On an island between the Driksa and Lielupe rivers is Jelgava Palace, which was once the seat of the Duke of Courland and Zemgale, now home to the Latvian University of Agriculture.
Jelgava Palace is truly a remarkable gem, designed by Russian court architect Rastrelli, and one of the rare historical architectural monuments of Jelgava city still standing today.
History lesson at the palace’s museum
Since 1968, Jelgava Palace houses a museum where visitors can learn about the old Livonian Order Castle and the construction of the current palace, as well as what has been achieved in the research and conservation of the palace, at the museum’s historical exhibition.
Enjoy the special offers at Jelgava Palace together with family, friends or colleagues.
Hot chocolate at the Duke’s residence
Enjoy hot chocolate in the company of the Duchess of Courland and Zemgale and the ladies of the court. Already in the 18th century, hot chocolate was de rigueur in all of the royal houses of Europe, also in Mitava (the former name of Jelgava).
The 21st century recipe of hot chocolate was invented by the Faculty of Food Technology of the Latvian University of Agriculture. In tandem with this tasty drink, visitors can also learn the secrets of the construction of the largest Baroque palace in the Baltics, find out more about the daily life of dukes, as well as listen to the colorful adventures of local students.
Inside the Duke’s kitchen
In the 18th century, the ground floor of the Duke’s residence at Jelgava Palace was made up of several kitchens, storerooms, as well as servant quarters.
The only premises on the ground floor which has been restored is the kitchen, consisting o two rooms, with two open hearths. Copies of 18th century furniture and paintings can be found in the kitchen area, donated by the Rundale Palace’s museum collection.
Love letters from Dorothea
Dorothea's Love Letter Workshop is an educational program for all ages, where Princess Dorothea of Courland and Zemgale will help guests create the atmosphere of the 19th century, explore the secrets of calligraphy and prepare a surprise for their loved ones by sending a letter written in Jelgava Palace in candlelight and sealed with the special seal lacquer. You can also write a letter to Dorothea, who will respond personally and give advice to the lovelorn.
Crypts of the Dukes of Courland
Inside Jelgava Palace is the Rundale Palace exhibition called – crypts of the Dukes of Courland, where members of the dynasties have been laid to rest. The exhibition area, next to the crypt, has in its exposition restored costumes as well as information about the persons who have been laid to rest in the crypt. The exposition is available for viewing during the summer season.
History of Jelgava Palace
Initially, in 1265, a wooden castle was erected for the needs of the Livonian Order between the Driksa and Lielupe rivers, which was called Mitove Castle, giving Jelgava its original name Mitava.
In 1345, the castle was burned down, and in its place a stone castle was erected where later the Duke or Courland Kettler and his dynasty resided. When Duke Ernst-Johann Biron took power, he demolished the old Medieval castle and in 1737 ordered the Russian court architect Rastrelli to design a new residence in the Baroque style. Over the years, the castle suffered from several fires, but in 1919 Jelgava Palace was burned down by soldiers of the Bermont-Avalov army troops who opposed the 1918 declaration of independence of Latvia.
After the palace was restored in 1937, the Latvian Agricultural Chamber opened the Jelgava Agricultural Academy inside the palace walls.
The palace was once again ravaged bare the end of WWII; it was reconstructed in 1961.