Dobele Castle

Dobele Castle



Location: Zemgale region  Map

Constructed: 1335-1339

Dobele History Museum

Brivibas 7

Tel. 6372 1309

Open: 12pm- 6pm Wed

11am- 4pm Thu- Sat


History of the Dobele Castle

Dobele stone castle replaced a earlier wooden citadel from the 13th century that was constructed here by the Semigallians. After Northern Crusades added these lands to the Catholic sphere of influence Crusaders needed a chain of military fortifications to defend their newly acquired lands. Northeast Europe at the time was still followed pagan cults. Dobele Castle is located in Zemgale region of Latvia was constructed in 1335- 39 by knights of the Livonian Order. It was further increased in size and strength in 1345. The castle consisted of four buildings that surrounded a courtyard. Additionally a church stood inside the walls. Western rectangular tower also served as the gate to the whole compound. In 1620 the Swedish army under leadership of Gustavus Adolphus captured the Dobele Castle. Between 1643 and 1649 Duke Frederick's widow Elizabeth Magdalena lived here. During Northern War King of Sweden Charles XII stayed here.
Many legends are associated with the Dobele Castle. One of the legend state that one tunnel lead to Lielberze, while another leads under the river Berze. Another legend claim that the copper roofs of castle sparkled so intensely it was visible far in the Baltic Sea. Many trader's ships mistook this light for a lighthouse and changed their course toward it. Many sailors and traders died crushing on the rocks. Their curses eventually caused a huge hurricane that blew off the copper roof from the building. Over time the castle lost its military importance and gradually fell in disrepair. In 1730 its roof collapsed and the structure was abandoned. The castle restoration started in 2001 to keep the overall structure intact.


Dobele Castle was first mentioned in documents in 1254, when a fortified wooden castle existed in this place - the administrative center of Zemgale Dobele Castle District. During the Livonian Crusades, fierce battles with German crusaders took place in the Dobele area. Zemgale showed great resistance to the enemies, who were also unable to occupy the castle. From 1279 to 1289, Dobele Castle withstood six sieges of the Livonian Order. When the whole area was destroyed, the Semigallians burned their own castle in 1289 and went to the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania without victory.

In the winter of 1345, the Lithuanian nobleman Algirdas, together with Kestutis, invaded Zemgale, captured Tērvete Castle and set fire to Jelgava Castle, but in 1346 destroyed Mežotni. Perhaps Dobele was also attacked during this time. From 1335 to 1347, the Livonian Order built a stone castle on the site of the burned Semigallian castle, around which a settlement of craftsmen and merchants was formed over time. 1376.-1562. In the castle stayed in the castle Dobele commanders with their military congregation. The last commander of Dobele Matīss from Reke came into conflict with the Duke of Courland Gotthard Kettler, who in 1566 occupied the castle and forced the commander to abandon it.

In 1579, 1613 and 1628, the Kurzeme Landtags were held in Dobele Castle. 1620./1621. and in 1625 Dobele was occupied by the troops of King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden.

From 1643 to 1649, the castle was inhabited by Duke Friedrich's widow Elizabeth Magdalene with her foster son Prince Jacob (later Duke Jacob). In 1658, during the capture of Duke Jacob, the castle was acquired by the Swedes. In the same year, the people of Kurzeme, together with the Poles, tried to capture the castle, but did not hold back and were expelled again.

In 1660, after the Treaty of Oliva, Duke Jacob regained the castle and a long additional building was built on the eastern wall of the castle, but the castle fortifications were not restored. In 1701, the castle was again occupied by the Swedes and King Charles XII of Sweden stayed in the castle for 6 days. During the war, the city and the castle were badly destroyed. 18th century In the first quarter, plague broke out in and around Dobele, significantly reducing the population. The castle was inhabited until 1736, when its roof was invaded.

On June 24, 1870, the Kurzeme Latvian Song Festival took place near the ruins of Dobele Castle - one of the first in Latvia, because the first general song festival took place in 1873. In 1915, at the foot of the castle, military debts were accepted by the German Emperor Wilhelm II.

In 2018, the preservation of the ancient walls, the restoration of part of the castle convent building, as well as the construction of a multifunctional exhibition hall, exposition and viewing area began. During the construction works, an intact cultural layer was discovered at the entrance to the chapel basement, which included Semigallian rings, brooches, bells, pendants, spiral, chain jewelry fragments, hand bracelet fragment, beads, buckles, spokes, spearheads, crossbows, crossbows, arrow snippets, fishing rods, lead sinks and even hazelnuts.

Two underground passages led from the castle - one to the left bank under the bed of the Bērze River, the other - to Lielbērze.