Rundale Palace (Latvia)

It was in 1736 that the construction of this castle began. It will take four years to the Italian rocaille architect Rastrelli ( winter palace of St. Petersburg also) to finish the construction.

The first owner was Ernst Johann von Biron, elected Duke of Courland in 1737. Upon the death (in October 1740) of the Russian empress, Anna Ivanovna, whose favorite he was, the duke was arrested (November 20, 1740) and went into exile.

Most of the interior was completed in the second half of the eighteenth century (1765-1768), when he returned from exile (January 1763) after the enthronement of Catherine II. This work was carried out by Francesco Martini and Carlo Zucchi, Italian architects in St. Petersburg, while the decoration was entrusted to Johann Michael Graff and his team.

Rundale Palace – Interiors

When at the end of the 18th century the duchy was annexed to the Russian Empire, the castle passed into the hands of Prince Zubov, and then into those of the Counts Shuvalov (including the famous ambassador Peter Shuvalov), until 1920.

A hospital was set up there during the First World War, by the German Imperial Army. During the troubles that followed the fall of the Russian Empire, the troops of Bermondt-Avalov occupied the Palace and caused numerous degradations.

After its independence, the new state of Latvia confiscated the castle and nationalized it. It was then transformed into a school and apartments despite a more than precarious general condition.

In 1933, it is given to the Museums of Latvia which rehabilitate it little by little. The Soviet occupation will put an end to this phase by transforming it into… attic.

It was not until the early 1970s that the authorities installed a museum and that the rehabilitation work resumed, to be completed in May 2014.

The building has 138 rooms and is surrounded by a large park and garden. The interiors contain various exhibits of life in the castle as well as beautiful examples of baroque architecture.

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