The site

Lielstraupe Castle Complex is an outstanding historical and cultural monument on account to its scenic features. It is one of the rare medieval castles still standing in Latvia, surviving through various wars and regime changes over 800 years. It is the only castle in Latvia which includes a church, and despite undergoing significant interventions following a catastrophic fire in 1905 as well as having served as a hospital for more than half a century, the castle still retains most of its original substance and appearance from three hundred years ago.

Lielstraupe Castle Complex is located in the Vidzeme Region of Latvia, in the small village of Straupe. Straupe is often described as "a small village with a great history,” because Straupe, formerly named Roop, which has today only a few hundred inhabitants, had been over centuries a city with municipal law and had been till 17th century a member of the Hanseatic League.

The castle is located next to an active road of international importance, what contributes to its inclusion in touristic concepts and makes it one of the most well-known medieval monuments in Latvia.

Lielstraupe Castle was built for and used – with some small interruptions – by the von Rosen Family for almost eight centuries and has played since an important role in the local communityAn integral part of the castle’s complex is the church, built by crusader knights around the same time as the fortified castle. The castle, together with the church, form an ensemble, which is included – as well as the territory of the ancient city Straupe – on the list of architectural monuments of national importance.

After 1939, Lielstraupe Castle became the property of the Latvian state and was used for various purposes such as a military hospital and later the administration building of the machine and tractor station. Later, the castle was used for almost fifty-five years to house a psychoneurological and later narcological hospital. These operations ceased in at the of 2017, and the management of the castle was transferred to the local municipality. After a several years lasting process, in 2023 the Cēsis Municipality became the owner of Lielstraupe Castle as well as of several buildings in the direct neighbourhood which had been historically part of the economic entity of Lielstraupe Castle.   

The castle remains currently only partially usable. After decades of disrepair and continuous use there are several damaged walls, ceilings, and floors, about fifteen rooms are forbidden by the State Construction Inspectorate for visiting. The roof covering is in some places in a state of disrepair with severe leakage and damages to the roof structure. The structure of the building, the thick walls and cracked window frames impair heating efficiency.  

Thus, one of the current priorities is to continue urgent rescue interventions at the castle’s foundation, roof structures, roofing, and ceilings. The other priority is to develop a long-term concept for conservation and revitalisation of the castle and the territory of the ancient city of Straupe.

The local community has strong enthusiasm for the conservation and revitalisation of Lielstraupe Castle and understands it as a pillar to the community. The active involvement of the local community corresponds with the results of a recent survey where 84 % of the inhabitants wished to develop the castle complex as “a meeting place for people interested in history, art, music, especially medieval, in a study and surviving of tangible and intangible cultural heritage”.

It is said by locals with full confidence: “Lielstraupe Castle is our identity, our roots, our sorrows, and a symbol of our hopes and dreams.”


The training course

The 2024 training course builds upon the groundwork laid by the previous European Heritage Training Course that was carried out at Lielstraupe Castle in 2023. Led by experts in cultural heritage, a team of young heritage professionals facilitated during that training course a comprehensive architectural documentation and inventory of Lielstraupe Castle.

On the base of the inventory, two conservation architects from the European Heritage Volunteers’ network are currently developing an overall concept for the castle which will provide the frame for future conservation interventions.

With this foundation, the 2024 European Heritage Training Course will implement first conservation interventions, dedicated to the conservation and restoration of the main hall's ceilings.

The main festive hall, located on the first floor of the building’s main wing, is one of the first areas that are intended to be rehabilitated for communal use. With its size and the simple yet beautiful design and rich historical ambiance, the hall promises to serve as a focal point for community engagement, where diverse voices can gather in celebration of heritage, creativity, and collective endeavour inviting all who enter to partake in the new chapter that is being written for Lielstraupe Castle.

The focus of the training course will lay on the conservation and restoration of the ceiling and the decorations of the main hall.

The interventions will start with the thorough documentation of the state of conservation and detailed mapping of various types of degradation. Afterwards the damaged substructure will be stabilised and repaired, accompagnied by the stabilisation and consolidation of the historical ceiling surface. As a next step, gaps will be filled, plaster applied, and the historic profiles of the decoration reconstructed. Finally, according to the results of the conservation and restoration stratigraphy analysis, recolouring and retouch of the surface will be carried out.

Throughout the training course, participants will learn how to assess and record the condition of historic decorated surfaces, laying the groundwork for informed conservation strategies. They will gain insights into the composition and properties of traditional building materials used to create plaster and stucco decorations. From understanding the characteristics of lime-based or gypsum-based plasters to mastering the intricacies of molding profiles and applying the final coloured layers, participants will immerse themselves in the craftsmanship of historic surfaces.

The training course will be guided by a conservator-restorer from the European Heritage Volunteers’ network with long experience in the use and development of traditional plasters who will share, discuss, and transmit his accumulated knowledge about conservation-restoration in general and the applied techniques in particular.

The educational programme of the European Heritage Training Course will be completed by various lectures, presentations, and guided tours about Lielstraupe Castle and the village Straupe, and a whole-day excursion to various heritage sites in the region.


The training course will take place from August 19th to August 31st, 2024, and is organised by European Heritage Volunteers in cooperation with the Lielstraupe Castle Association, the Center for Cultural Heritage Serbia, and Cēsis Municipality.

European Heritage Volunteers