Āraiši Lake Castle Archaeological Park



Āraiši Lake Fortress Archaeological Park is a great place for exploring history from the earliest times to the dawn of the Middle Ages, with a special focus on the building traditions of different periods.

The Park’s most unusual object is the Āraiši Lake Fortress, an ancient Latgalian lake dwelling site dating back to the Iron Age. This is the only reconstruction of 10 such settlements ever discovered in Latvia. Archaeologist Jānis Apals, who studied the site, said that the excavations provided evidence so strikingly well-preserved that reconstructing the fortress was a must: the structural remains of the wooden buildings allowed reconstructing the original with 80% reliability.

Currently, all the dwellings on the island are open to visitors. A defensive structure and a gate were built in 2020 for an even more authentic and immersive experience.

Since 1 July 2020, the Āraiši Lake Fortress Archaeological Park Visitor Centre offers an exhibition featuring both unique and quite ordinary evidence of the lake dwellers’ lives, as well as the fascinating story of archaeologist Jānis Apals’ life and his work on the fortress. The exhibition is an unprecedented opportunity to see the excavated objects first-hand.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Latvia’s first inhabitants who lived here centuries before the lake fortress was built, make sure to visit the Meitu Sala island with its reconstructed Stone and Bronze Age structures. These were based on the results of archaeological research throughout Latvia.

And across the lake from the fortress sit the brooding ruins of Āraiši Stone Castle, dating back to the second half of the 14th century. Built several hundred years later than the lake dwelling site, it was used as a military and economic support point for the nearby Cēsis Castle.

Read more Close Fill 1 Copy

Improvements made within the project

The project reconstructed a fragment of the fortress’ defensive wall and its gate. A new visitor centre was built, which currently houses an exhibition on the history of the lake fortress, the archaeological findings, as well as Jānis Apals, the researcher and archaeologist who brought the fortress back to life.

Investments – EUR 735,738.78
Of which:
ERDF funding – EUR 300,000
state budget grant – EUR 13,235.29
municipal funding – EUR 422,503.49

The project was implemented by Amata Municipality Local Government.



Āraiši Lake Fortress, Āraiši, Drabeši rural territory


Working time

Summer season (until 1 October)
Open daily from 09:00 to 19:00


Admission fee

  • EUR 5 – adults
  • EUR 4 – pupils, students, pensioners
  • EUR 15 – family ticket
  • For children of preschool age – free
  • Picnic spot and firewood EUR 10 per group for stays up to 2 h
  • EUR 20 Guided tour in Latvian
  • EUR 30 Guided tour in English, Russian

Getting there

Accessible on foot, by bike from the Green Railway section Ieriķi – Melturi, or by private car (parking available). Public transport (bus) running on the route: Cēsis – Āraiši, Āraiši – Cēsis


Good to know

Picnic areas, swings, coffee, toilets, a bicycle pump and a map with nearby cycling routes are available in the territory. Visitors of the Archaeological Park can enjoy the nearby Āraiši windmill and church. The area is under video surveillance.



+371  25669935; +371 25665528; +371 29391673

[email protected]

Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, national Development plan 2020 and European Union Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund logo. Investing in your future.