Historical and old photos of Cesis (german - Wenden)

(all photos for free use)

Coat of arms of Cesis

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Historical and old photos of Cesis (german - Wenden)

A small historical reference

German Wenden castle, built in 1213, served as one of the main centers of the Livonian Order and the residence of its masters. The German name is derived from the Wends - names once lived here ethnic group of uncertain origin - Livonian, Curonian or West Slavic - refugees from the north courses that in the XI century on the site Riekstukalns (Nut Hill) built his castle. This Vendian castle mound and was built next to a stone castle is the cradle of the city. In the Middle Ages the city was part of the Hanseatic League. Every year the General Chapter of the Order was going. Walther von Plettenberg, and a number of other masters are buried in the church of St. John.

Date of foundation:


Population: 18 065


Cesis. Automobile, 1937
Automobile, 1937
Cesis. Bridge across Gauja River, 1927
Bridge across Gauja River, 1927
Cesis. Bridge across Gauja River, 1930
Bridge across Gauja River, 1930
Cesis. City building
City building
Cesis. Castle Ruins
Castle Ruins
Cesis. Castle Ruins
Castle Ruins
Cesis. Castle Ruins
Castle Ruins
Cēsis Castle, 1930
Cēsis Castle, 1930
Cesis. City street, 1909
City street, 1909
Cesis. City street, 1914
City street, 1914
Cesis. City street, 1929
City street, 1929
Cesis. City streets, 1931
City streets, 1931
Cesis. Courthouse, 1928
Courthouse, 1928
Cesis. German elementary School
German elementary School
Cesis. Monument to those killed in the War
Monument to those killed in the War
Cesis. Post and Telegraph
Post and Telegraph
Cesis. Railway Station
Railway Station
Cesis. Railway Station
Railway Station
Cesis. Railway Station
Railway Station
Cesis. Railway Station, 1919
Railway Station, 1919
Cesis. Riga Street
Riga Street
Cesis. Ruins of the castle of the master of the Livonian Order, Wenden Castle
Ruins of the castle of the master of the Livonian Order, Wenden Castle
Cesis. School, 1935
School, 1935
Cesis. State Gymnasium in Berzaine
State Gymnasium in Berzaine
Cesis. Sanatorium, 1936
Sanatorium, 1936
Cesis. Sanatorium, 1936
Sanatorium, 1936
Cesis. Sanatorium
Cesis. Victory Monument, 1930
Victory Monument, 1930
Cesis. View to city
View to city
Cesis. View to city
View to city
Cesis. Water tower and mill at the Railway Yard
Water tower and mill at the Railway Yard
Cesis. Wenden Castle, 1914
Wenden Castle, 1914



The oldest settlement in Cēsis is the hillfort on Riekstu hill, a fortified wooden castle built by a tribe known as the Vends. The 18-metre-high (59.06 ft) mound with its partly preserved fortification system can still be seen in the Castle Park. This settlement was located near major trade routes from west to east and dominated the regional countryside.

German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of a castle Wenden near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master. In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578). In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Wenden Voivodeship was created. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. From the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adapted to the requirements of the Cēsis castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis castle estate was obtained by Count Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the Eastern Block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower. Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in the New Castle on the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia — Cēsu Alus, which was built in 1878 during the latter years of Count Sievers' residency, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order.

Further on is the Cēsis castle park, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its foot-paths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins.

The town

The planning of the town of Cēsis was done in the second half of the 13th century. The market place with a church was in the centre of the town. The centre of housing was the stone castle of the Livonian Order with its three fortified towers. The town was also encircled by a dolomite stone wall with eight towers and five gates. Buildings from the Middle Ages include St. John's Church (built 1281–1284), the ruins of the Order's castle, Cēsis Castle and fortification walls, fragments of which can still be seen at Vaļņu iela and Palasta iela. In addition, ancient road networks and building plots have survived from medieval times, although many of the buildings themselves have been ruined (the last destroyed in 1748). 18th century buildings can be seen at 16 and 25 Rīgas iela, while houses built in the first part of the 19th century are at 15 and 47 Rīgas iela, 6 Gaujas iela, and other streets.

In the second half of the 19th century, the construction of the Rīga-Pskov highway (1868) and the Rīga-Valka railway line (1889) accelerated the development of the town. Raunas iela, leading from the railway station to the Old Town, was developed as a wide, presentable street with the Latvian Society House at 10 Raunas iela (architect Augusts Malvess), the Building of the Regional Court at 14 Raunas iela (architect P. Mengelis), and other important buildings.

The Battle of Cēsis in June 1919, when Estonian and Latvian forces defeated the Germans, was one of the decisive battles in the Latvian War of Independence.

Cēsis was also developed as a health resort. Upmarket summer houses and health centres were built in the vicinity of the Gauja. 'Cīrulīši' near the Svētavots (Holy Spring) Cave is the most remarkable of them, with a spring believed to possess healing powers.


Photos posted on the website in accordance with Article 7, paragraph 1 of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of 9 September 1886, the term of protection which is fifty years after the author's death.

After this period photos it becomes public domain. The participants of the Berne Convention are 167 States.

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