Baltic Cruise vacations are quite popular as these memorable voyages transport you in extraordinary comfort to some of the world’s most incredible destinations. Port calls may include such storied lands as St. Petersburg, Russia; Stockholm and Kalmar, Sweden; Riga, Latvia; Copenhagen, Denmark and more.
On Baltic cruises, a highlight for many travelers is seeing the magnificent castles, many of which were mighty fortresses and palaces once called home by royal families. They are as diverse and fascinating as the region itself and provide an insightful look into the culture and past of the different countries.
Castles & Palaces to Visit on your Shore Excursion
Riga Castle or Order Castle (Riga, Latvia)
Charming and sophisticated Riga is known as the “Pearl of the Baltic” and “Paris of the North.” When visiting, behold the beautiful Order Castle, also known as the Riga Castle, built in 1330 on the right bank of the River Daugava in the Old City section. This iconic structure is one of the oldest and largest medieval castles in Latvia with an exciting, centuries-old history. Although three castles here claim the same name, this is the one best known for its two round towers, which were added in the 15th century – the Tower of the Holy Ghost and the Lead Tower, which now flies the Flag of Latvia and the Standard of the President. Throughout more than 700 years, it has served as the official residence of the President of Latvia in addition to The National History Museum of Latvia.
Kalmar Castle (Kalmar, Sweden)
Dating back over 800 years, Kalmar Castle was considered one of the most important fortresses based upon its location to the Swedish-Danish border which was just a short distance to the south. Its current design is from the 16th century when the medieval castle was rebuilt, transforming it into a beautiful Renaissance palace, designed with continental influence. Stroll through its Governor’s Apartments, each with a unique theme reflecting a specific event. Ever-changing exhibitions are enhanced by high-tech interactive information including approximately 400 anecdotes, stories and more.
The Royal Palace (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Considered one of the most famous as well as one of Europe’s largest palaces, the spectacular Royal Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark is the official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden. The majestic complex is open to the public and boasts over 600 rooms and five fascinating museums. Showcasing Italian Baroque style, the majority was completed in the 18th century. You can visit stunning reception rooms, plus Rikssalen, the Hall of State and see Queen Kristina’s breathtaking silver throne. Step back in time at Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities. The Royal Palace also houses the Armory, complete with armor, royal costumes and magnificent coronation carriages. The parade of soldiers and daily changing of the guard is a highlight of any visit here.
Toompea Castle (Tallinn, Estonia)
While in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital and a cultural hub on the Baltic Sea, visit the Toompea Castle, erected in the 13th century on what was once the foundation’s crumbling eastern wing. The castle as seen today features an intricate late Baroque façade that was built between 1767 and 1773. Once home to conquerors and rulers of Estonia, today it is home to the Estonian parliament called Riigikogu and the national flag flies from its Tall Hermann tower as a proud symbol of Estonia’s independence.
Kadriorg Palace, (Tallinn, Estonia)
A lesser known palace in Tallinn, Kadriorg was built for Catherine I of Russia by Peter the Great, Kadriorg Palace, meaning “Catherine’s Valley,” currently houses the Kadriorg Art Museum, displaying works from the 16th to 20th centuries.
Winter Palace or Catherine Palaces (St. Petersburg, Russia)
One of the world’s most famous buildings – and the most spectacular — is the historic Winter Palace, once the royal residence of the Russian tsars. Located on the Neva River, various palaces were built between 1754 and 1762 in Baroque design. The breathtaking Amber Room, is an exact replica of the original Amber Room which was considered an “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Now reconstructed, visitors can once again be awe-struck by its beauty which during World War II was dismantled prior to vanishing. The palace is now part of one of the world’s most incredible museums, the Hermitage.
Enhance your Baltic cruise when you visit these unique castles and palaces. History-buffs, art-lovers, architecture enthusiasts and travelers yearning for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, will find these itineraries to be a true delight.