Home > The castle complex > Medieval castle > History of the castle
During its 800 years of existence, Cēsis Castle’s role has changed as significantly as its external appearance. The castle was built around 1214 and originally served as the residence of the Knights of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, but under the management of its next owner – Teutonic Order – it gained fame as the most powerful fortress in Livonia. Teutonic Order`s Livonian land Masters lived here and the Order`s annual chapter meetings were often held here. The Order`s archive, library, chancery with scriptorium and the Master`s mint were all located in Cēsis.
The castle suffered greatly in 1577, when, during the siege set by the army of Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible, 300 people sought refuge in the castle and eventually committed suicide by blowing themselves up with gunpowder. With the rapid development of military equipment, the ancient fortress lost its military importance, but it was still inhabiteduntil the end of the 17th century. After the Great Northern War, the castle was completely abandoned to its fate – rain and frost gradually undermined buildings that were left without roofs, and the town`s people contributed by removing stone blocks from the thick castle walls to build their own houses. Only the Romantic movement in the 19th century aroused broader public interest in the castle as a historic monument, thus inaugurating the castle’s conservation and exploration history. Today Cēsis Castle is one of the most special destinations of cultural tourism in Latvian, its uniqueness attracts travellers from all over the world.