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Saturday, July 22, 2023: A Palatial Day

We are driving from Riga, Latvia to Vilnius, Lithuania today but we will make several stops along the way.

Southern Latvia is a very fertile area. This flat land lends itself to farmland that produces such crops as wheat, curb and even barley.

This is the entrance to the palace. The red buildings were the horse stables!! It was truly out in the middle of nowhere which allowed it to survive bombings in WWII.
This is the entrance to the palace for the Duke of Courland, Ernst-Ioann Biron, a Polish Lithuanian. In 1737 he started in the court and became a favorite of the Russian Empress Anna Ioannovna which is a precursor to becoming a lover. That must be the origin of the phrase “He fell out of favor”. However, he was able to progress!!
The back view from the massive gardens. Construction of this Baroque Palace began in the summer of 1736. The outside structure was completed in four years.
Our tour organizer is Inese on the left. She has been excellent. The guide for the Rundāle Palace Museum was very clever and entertaining. He taught us about their toileting practices and how to communicate discretely with a fan.

The palace was used for parties and official business. There were private rooms and state rooms. Today the palace makes its money through ticket sales and using the palace to make movies. There was a movie made here about the beloved Austrian empress nicknamed Sissi.

For 22 years the Duke went away and there were no interiors and furnishings. Catherine the Great of Russia didn’t want an old lover so the Duke, 72, returned and the inside was decorated in the rococo style.
This is the porcelain room where their vast collections of porcelain from Japan and China were kept. They were expensive, not like the items that we get today! HA. I photo bombed on purpose in the mirror.
Many of these jars were used in each room for potpourri. Old fashioned air freshener!!

Rundāle Palace was neglected for years. By 1920, it was an elementary school, apartments, local alcoholic rehab center, and used for grain storage. In 1972 restoration began and was completed in 2014.

This is a great illustration of a ceiling restoration: BEFORE on the left and AFTER on the right.
Here is a picture of the actual restored ceiling.
The Master bedroom or in today’s real estate language, the Primary Bedroom. Note the two heating stoves.
Here is the view from the Master Bedroom. What a wonderful scene to wake up to!!
This little room is where a servant put wood in the stoves to heat the rooms. Note that there are three rooms to stoke!!

There was a boudoir for the ladies. It would take up to 10 hours to dress their hair. (Men wore wigs.) While getting their hair done, they would sip hot chocolate, the popular drink of the day. They would keep their hairdo maybe for a month until it attracted bugs or mice. (They used eggs or honey to set the style.)

The family dining room that was at one time used as a basketball court when the Palace was a school.
This is a beautiful rococo decoration in the largest room in the palace. It was called the White Room and is where all the dancing took place. During parties there were 3 servants per noble person. An average day had 1 servant per person.
Rob is performing on the “stage” of the Green Amphitheater in the massive gardens. It has the largest collection of roses in the Baltics with about 2,300 varieties. We are here with peak blooms in July.
Here is the view from the audience of the Green Amphitheater. The entire gardens were planted according to the original design in 1972.
Our next stop was called the Hill of Crosses which contains over 100,000 crosses of various shapes and sizes. The Soviets bulldozed this site a few times during their years of occupation, but people kept bringing more crosses and still do.
Our bus driver, Marcis, has been faithful and takes us to all of our exciting stops.

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