Latvia

I went to Latvia on a trip I made through the Baltics with one of my friends from Barcelona that I met while volunteering in Poland. We went to Riga, the capital, and were hosted by a very friendly girl who showed us around everywhere and walked with us the incredible amount of hours we were used to walk non-stop for sightseeing, as our visits to each city were short. One of those days, in the evening we went to the city center and got to a fair they had organized where a lot of people were mainly eating a lot of typical food and having some drinks, enjoying some traditional music while, all of a sudden, a band of folk music began playing what the girl said every Latvian knows how to dance so she told us we had to go there and join. A lot of people gathered for that one and when the next song began, everybody began jumping and dancing in circles to the sound of violins, flutes, drums, etc. simply having a lot of fun.

On a different day we went on a trip to a small town called Sigulda where they have two castles almost one in front of the other, divided by a river, one of them is the Sigulda castle and the other one is the castle of Turaida. It was a very nice visit, part of it is in ruins and part is still standing and possible to visit, all surrounded by a big and beautiful forest. We went inside the still standing part of the castle and explored it a little bit until we found a room where they had some armor and weapons which we could actually take and wear, so we were there for a while swinging swords, taking selfies with helmets on and stuff until we decided it was time to keep exploring the rest.

There was also, not far from the castle, a big but not deep cave with a lot of carvings of different people that had been there in different eras of history which I found very cool, it’s name is the Gutmain’s cave. Later on we were walking through the gardens of the Turaida castle when suddenly we saw a grave with flowers. There was an explanation of whose grave it was and I liked the story so I decided to write it here.

The rose of Turaida

In the beginning of the 17th century, the lord of the castle of Turaida defeated in battle an enemy army close to home and while looking for survivors, found a baby girl crying in the arms of her dead mother, he decided to take care of her and she grew up to be a very beautiful woman, her name was Maija. She was supposed to marry to a humble worker of the castle which whom she was deeply in love, but there was another noble Polish man who was interested in her and one day, he sent her a letter, deceivingly signed with the name of her true lover, asking her to meet at the Gutmains cave. When she reached the place, she realized it was a trap set up by this man to dishonor her. Before he could do anything, she told him that first she would give him her magic scarf as a gift, which had the power to make its bearer invulnerable to any harm. She told him that to prove it, she would wear it around her neck and he would have to swing his sword at it to find out it would be impossible for it to cut. Stunned, he agreed and swung his sword at her, killing her instantly. He fled and later on the true lover came to the cave looking for her and found the body. Some witnesses, who knew about the letter, accused the Polish nobleman who was tried and executed afterwards.

The tombstone was placed in her honor at the gardens of the castle and she was named the rose of Turaida due to her incomparable beauty.

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