Oct 30

The Rundale Palace

In this article we are going to go near the Baltic Sea, to Latvia, where we will have a look at an impressive palace built for Ernst Johann von Biron, the Duke of Courtland. The Rundale Palace was constructed after the plan developed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli and it is representative for the Baroque style.

The construction of the edifice was structured in two stages. Both of them lasted for 4 years, the first was initiated in 1736 and ended in 1740 while the second was carried on between 1764 and 1768. Built initially as a summer residence for the aforementioned duke, the palace changed several hands, being owned by various counts and princes. The royal families lost possession of the edifice in World War I when the Germans invaded the country and took hold of the palace, transforming it into a hospital.


The subsequent wars that took this land by storm were highly detrimental to the Rundale Palace, leaving the edifice almost mutilated under their destructive force.

It was only in the latter decades of the 20th century that the palace was declared a historical monument and it was transformed into a museum. Slowly, renovation works were undertaken in the attempt to reestablish the former glory of the palace. And this meant not only remodeling the building itself. The façades were important but in order to revive the Palace, it was also necessary to furnish the rooms and adorn them with works of art.  And these efforts paid off because with the help of the restoration works, the Rundale Palace became one of the most important tourist attractions on the Latvian territory.


When we talk nowadays about the Rundale Museum, we actually refer to an entire complex together with the surrounding gardens. It is worth mentioning that constant work is being conducted in order to beautify the ensemble which includes arranging the park and restoring the adjacent constructions which are now an intrinsic part of the museum complex.


There is an entire department which conducts heavy investigation in what concerns the original baroque garden in order to create an exact replica of the initial surroundings. Their dedication to the project is really admirable because they want to recapture that part of history and the architectural style of the time and present it to visitors. In order to attract even more tourists to this part of the country, the administration of the museum has begun exploring the customs and habits of the 18th century population in order to reenact the way of life of the royalty figures of that time.

But while the museum remains faithful to the Baroque movement, the exhibitions within capture different artistic styles, from Late Gothic to the Art Nouveau movement.