Walking through the Latvian town Bauska, which is 66 kilometers from the capital, Riga, is like entering a book of memories: the city still preserves wooden houses built centuries ago and constructions of the soviet period. I was going to the Castle of Bauska (Bauskas Pils), built in the 15th century by the Germans of the Livonian Order, a branch of the medieval military Teutonic Order. On the way I passed through a park filled with flowers and a memorial honoring the victims of the soviet regime.
As I was walking I could see on my right the beautiful view of where the rivers Mūsa and Mēmele form the river Lielupe. I kept walking until finally could see the recently restored palace of the castle on top of the green hill: beautiful and sober. It was painted with different tones of beige. Behind, the ruins of the old castle form a magnificent contrast. In ancient times, there was an ancient Semigallian fortress on the top of the same hill. Bauska Pils was built between 1443 and 1456. The construction continued until the end of the 16th century.
I was carrying a cup of coffee that got cold due to the excitement I felt. The walls of the non-restored part were collapsed; they were certainly hit hard. I could see the holes from where the defenders could shoot arrows. The castle and city suffered heavily in the 17th and 18th centuries, under attack in the Polish-Swedish War and in the Great Northern War. A big watch tower, thick walls, a prison, narrow stairs… It is all there forming a disheveled beauty that can make a history lover shake with excitement! After a long climb, I spent a lot of time at the tower breathing the cold air and having a full view of the castle and its complex below. I was under a Latvian flag shaking in the wind. I pictured armies all around that hill.
When I finally left, as I walked backwards to have the last sights of the ruins, the sunset was over me and I could feel the smell of trampled grass under my feet. The last image remains in my mind: now, 457 years since the end of the Livonian Order, the national flag of Latvia trembles on top of the tower, a heartwarming sign of freedom.
Author: Maria Fernanda Stinghen Gottardi