Rundale Palace (Rundāles pils)

Rundale Palace



Location: 12 km (7.5 mi) East of Bauska  Map

Tel. 6396 2197

Open: May, Sep- Oct: 10am- 6pm daily

June- Aug: 10am- 7pm daily

Nov- Apr: 10am- 5pm daily


Park Open:

May- Oct: 10am- 7pm daily

Nov- Apr: 10am- 5pm daily


Description of Rundale Palace

Rundale Palace is a magnificent Baroque residence situated 12 km (7.5 mi) East of Bauska in Latvia. Rundale Palace was erected in two stages between 1736 and 1740 and from 1764 to 1768. It was designed by a famous Italian born royal architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. It was intended as a summer residence for Ernst Johann von Biron, Duke the Courland (region of Latvia), an important figure at the Royal Russian Palace who basically ran Russian government behind the scenes during reign of Russian Empress Anna Ioannovna. He lost much of his power in 1740 after a coup organized by the aristocrats. He moved here after his demise and devoted his remaining years in quiet rural life. In 1765- 68 sculptures of Berlin Johann Michael Graff were added. Frescoes were painted by Italian painters Francesco Martini and Carlo Zucchi who were invited from Saint Petersburg. Large garden that covers over 10 hectares surrounds this impressive residence.
After death of Biron Catherine II the Great passed the palace to Count Valerian Zubov, the youngest brother of her last lover Prince Platon Zubov (aka Platonic Love of the Empress). Zubov died shortly thereafter and his widow Thekla Walentinowicz married a prominent noble family of Counts Shuvalov. This family lost possession of the residence during World War I. In 1920- 1933 Rundale Palace was open as a school. In 1933- 1941 it was in possession of a State History Museum of Latvia. Rundale was badly damaged during World War II actions. In 1972 a new reconstruction began turning the palace to its former glory as a Rundāle Palace Museum. Eastern Wing of Rundale Palace is partially opened to the tourist.



The Duke of Kurzeme and Zemgale Ernst Johann Biron bought the Rundāle manor in 1735 for 42,000 dallers. The old manor house was demolished to replace the current Rundāle Castle. Construction of the building, designed by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, began on May 24, 1736. In 1740, the duke became a regent of Russia, but was soon overthrown and deported to Siberia, then to Yaroslavl, as a result of which construction was halted and resumed only after the duke returned from exile in 1762. Construction work was completed in 1768. After the death of Duke Ernest Johann in 1772, the castle was inherited by his widow Benign Gottlieb, and orchards were established around the castle during her stay.

After the incorporation of the Duchy of Courland and Zemgale into the Russian Empire in 1795, the duke's castle and other property were bought by the state. Catherine II presented it to her favorite Plato Zubov's younger brother, Major General Valery Zubov, who had emerged from the crackdown on the Kosciuszko uprising and took part in the 1796 Russo-Persian War. After Paul I came to power, Count Zubov fell into cruelty and mostly stayed in Rundāle Castle. After the assassination of Emperor Paul I in 1801, Count Zubov began to hold big balls in the castle, for example, 1,200 guests took part in the Harvest Festival on October 10, 1802. After his death in 1804, the castle was inherited by his brother Plato Zubov, who at that time had mostly lived in his Joniškis estate. Zubovi remodeled the castle, added entrance portals to the central building and built several fireplaces indoors. During the Russo-French War of 1812, the castle housed the infirmary of Napoleon's Grand Army and buried dead soldiers in the castle park, for which a monument has now been erected in the corner of the castle garden. The castle was demolished - the mirrors were knocked out, the library donated by Catherine II was destroyed. Plato Zubov settled in the castle only in 1814. Shortly before his death, Prince Zubov married Tekla Valentinovich, with whom he settled in Rundāle.

After Zubov's death in 1822, Tekla inherited the property and married Count Andrei Shuvalov. From 1864 to 1866, Rundāle Castle was used as their summer residence by their son, the Governor-General of the Baltics, Pēteris Šuvalovs, therefore in 1864 hasty and clumsy repairs were carried out in part of the castle premises. The halls of the eastern building of the second floor and the rooms of the southern anfilade were left for representation, but the rooms of the first floor of the central building were furnished for living. An Orthodox chapel was erected in the eastern corner of the second floor, in the former castle library. On the ground floor, under the chapel, a bathroom with a ceramic pool built into the floor was created. New, luxurious furniture and works of art were brought to furnish the living quarters. Count P. Shuvalov ordered the planting of chestnut alleys in Rundāle carriage yard and along the castle. The ornamental parterre of the park was transformed into a lawn, spruces were planted in the corners of the parterre, and a circle of pyramidal poplars was created around the pool. The old Countess Tekla Shuvalova lived in the restored Rundāle Castle until her death in 1873. In 1887, repair works were performed on the doorway panels and parquet. After the death of Peter Shuvalov in 1889, the castle was taken over by his son Andrejs Shuvalovs (1865-1928), in 1889 the castle's Golden Hall was restored with ceiling paintings, and in the White Hall stucco formations, in 1892 the White Hall was restored parquet and In 1901, the park had some pavilions, a conservatory and cages for animals, as well as a pyramid made of bullets.

During the First World War and the War of Independence, the castle was used for the German army and the Bermont army. After the war and agrarian reform, the administration of the castle was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture. A school was established in the castle premises, but part of the premises was allocated for the accommodation of war invalids. In 1924, it was included in the list of national monuments. In 1932, the castle was handed over to the Ministry of Education and rebuilt to suit the needs of the school. After the Second World War, there were grain warehouses in the castle, after their liquidation the school also took over these premises. The school was located in the castle until 1978.

In 1963, the castle was taken over by the Bauska Local History Museum, which established its branch there. In 1965 and 1971, the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR decided on the restoration of Rundāle Castle. In 1972, it became an independent museum and intensive restoration work began with annual state funding, which lasted until 1992. After that, the restoration and creation of the castle park took place with the help of targeted donations and grants. The state grant to the museum in 2006 was 872 thousand lats, in 2007 1 million 330 thousand lats. In addition to the European Union structural funds for the improvement of tourism infrastructure in Rundāle Castle 2006-2007. In 2003, 1,342,346 lats of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding was allocated.


Castle ensemble
Rundāle Castle has two floors with 138 rooms, 43 of which are planned to restore historical interiors. The castle is arranged in three buildings, between which there is a courtyard. In the central part there were the duke's apartments, in the west wing lived the duchess and other family members, but in the east wing was reserved for representation. The castle ensemble also includes stables with a carriage courtyard. There is a park near the castle. Part of the park is a French garden with a rose garden in 2005. A canal has been dug around this part of the park, the castle and the stables. The part of the park behind the canal is a hunting park formed by a forest.

White House
Rundāle Castle servants' house "White House" is an architectural monument of national significance, state protection No.6183. "White House" is one of the buildings of the Rundāle castle complex, which from the 19th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, the servants of Rundāle Castle lived. From 1949, the building was owned by the Rundāle Consumer Association and the Bauska District Consumer Association, when the "White House" housed a shop and living space. In 1997, the "White House" became the property of the Ikerts family, where a guest house is currently established.

The building was built of clay, which is a typical building material of Zemgale region buildings.