Rundāle Palace Ensemble

Photo by Jarek Pokrzywnicki.

Rundāle Palace Ensemble with a Garden and Forest Park is part of the Tentative list of Latvia in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

The Rundāle Palace Ensemble with a Garden and Forest Park is an 18th-century baroque residence of a governor in the Baltics. It was designed by the Russian court architect Francesco Rastrelli.

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

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Jarek Pokrzywnicki

Polska - 07-Dec-21 -

Rundāle Palace Ensemble (T) by Jarek Pokrzywnicki

Site visited in August, 2021. Rundāle Palace Ensemble is probably the best example of baroque style residence in whole Latvia (together with the palace in Jelgava). Maybe it cannot be compared to palaces of Versailles, Schonbrunn or residences around St Petersburg but other entities that are already on the list, like Worlitz, Wurzburg, Kromeriz or Drottningholm are for me of the same quality.

Palace in Rundale (or Pilsrundale as current name of the village – Pils in Latvian means castle) is a residence of Kurland Duke - Ernst Johann von Biron, built on a place of Livonian Castle. He started to construct his palace in 1735 (simultaneously with the main seat in Jelgava / Mitawa) according to the project of Italian architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli. In the meantime Ernst Johann became one of the most powerful person in Russian Empire (as a favorite of Empress Anna Iwanowna). It lasted only to to November, 1740, when palace revolution in St. Petersburg brought an end to Biron’s reign and duke was arrested, exiled and the building was stopped without finishing interiors. After several years Duke Ernst Johann von Biron received mercy and finally he finished palace construction (1764-1770). Interiors are designed by Johann Gottfried Seidel, Johann Michael Graff (sculptures) as well as Francesco Martini and Carlo Zucchi (painters).

Over the years the palace changed its owners but as it was never fully destroyed (although sometimes, during several wars, partly damaged) it remained its initial design and interiors. Several rooms were carefully restored, few are still waiting for that. The most impressive are in eastern wing: the Gilt Hall, the White Hall, the Great Gallery, in central block: the Duke's suite with reception parlours and private rooms and the eastern block – a fully restored suite of Duchess's rooms.

As in almost every palace there is also a geometrical park (10 ha, French Garden) and lake – unfortunately during my stay it was raining a lot so I had a chance of viewing the garden only from behind the palace windows.

Practicalities: as travelling with own car I did not practice public transportation but as far as I know there are buses from Bauska (the biggest city in the area, some 10 km from the palace). Palace is open all year round (except Mondays and Tuesdays), in most months from 10 to 18, entrance fees:  10 Euro (interiors only), 2 Euro (entrance to the garden, 11 Euro (combined). Big parking (free) is located nearby. Palace museum is well prepared for foreign tourists – all rooms are described in English / German / Russian, there are leaflets also available in those languages (of course in Latvian as well). Stayed overnight in Rundale Solstice Apartment (available on booking, one of the best places during the whole trip), comfortably equipped apartment, very close to palace museum (1,5 km). In Pilsrundale village there are 2 shops (one near the palace), a restaurant (within palace’s premises).

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Places on the photo, bottom left, than clockwise: White Hall, kitchen, Golden Hall, view of Palace courtyard

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Full Name
Rundāle Palace Ensemble with a Garden and Forest Park
Structure - Palace
2021 Added to Tentative List

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Rundāle Palace Ensemble (T)
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