Latvia: Rundale Palace

The spectacular Rundale Palace was built between 1736 and 1768 for the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia aka Livonia. a principality in what today is Latvia. The palace was designed by none other then the Italian Bartolomeo Rastrelli (the same guy who did the Winter Palace and Catherine’s Palace in Saint Petersburg). In 1795, Russia annexed Livonia altogether, and Catherine the Great gifted the palace to her lover’s brother. Then came Napoleon and used it as a hospital, then WWI nearly destroyed and looted everything in it, WWII was another German hospital, and afterwords it was a Soviet grain storage facility and gymnasium. Only in 2015 did the restoration begin – and it’s simply stunning how much has been accomplished. The baroque palace is truly spectacular with gardens to match at its forefront.