Palace History

– Palace History The Jelgava Palace is the former residence of the Duke of Courtland and Semigallia an later was the administrative centre of the province the Viesturs Memorial Palace. Today the palace is the home of the Latvia University of Agriculture (LLU). The Jelgava Palace is one of the masterpieces of the remarkable Russian court architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli in his early period. It is one of the rare buildings of his which still remains standing and functional. The palace was built for the Duke of Courland Ernst Johan Biron in two periods (1738 – 1740) and (1762 – 1772). It relaced the 14th century Order of Livonia Castle. The Jelgava Palace is the largest architectural monument in the Baltic States. The building capacity is 129375 m3. The premises occupy approximately 2.2 ha. There are approximately 674 windows, 615 doors and 669 rooms in the palace. The roof surface is 1.2 ha. There are 25 chimneys on the roof. The palace was intended to be a three phase building, with the main symmetry axis in the east – west direction. In 1937 the foundation of the new west wing of the palace was built for the needs of the Latvia Agriculture Academy. As a result when the two story corpus was built (using the project of Eizens Laube), the palace became an architectural quadrangle and thus an enclosed, secluded space that is very suited to the creation of a proper higher education atmosphere. During its history, the palace has burnt several times. The biggest damage done to the building was during the World War II, when in July 1944 the palace was burnt down. In 1956 according to the decision to move the Latvian Agriculture Academy to Jelgava, the palace renovation works started. Starting from 1957 all faculties of the Latvian Agriculture Academy were gradually moved from Riga to Jelgava. The Historical Exposition of Palace The Palace Museum has been open to the public since 1968. The palace historical exposition includes exhibits about the palace when it was part of the Livonian Order. Historical exposition presents archaeological artefacts, aspects of current historical research about the palace and information about the current renewal projects. The Jelgava Palace park The Jelgava Palace Park developed after 1816, when the north wing of the palace was burnt down. During the reconstruction work, the governor Valujevs ordered the last remains of the palace wall to be taken down and laid out a lawn in its place. In 1829 the whole area was elevated to protect the palace from floods. The palace channel includes the so-called Governor’s Island which before the World War I was the governor’s private rest place not accessible to the public. During 30’s of the 20th century, there were many outdoor concerts and the city government took care of the park’s maintenance. The palace park, currently taken care by the LLU, makes an impressive contribution to the beauty of the Jelgava Palace. The Vault of the Dukes of Courtland and Semigallia The duke’s vault was establishes in the palace basement in the 19th century. The sarcophagus of governors were moved from the previous church basement vault (built in 1538 and demolished in 1737). In 1989 the Rundāle Palace Museum took possession of the duke’s vault and since 1992 the vault has been open to the public. Key Events in the History of the Jelgava Palace 1265 The Livonia Order master Mondernos Conrade starts to build the Jelgava Palace 1256-1561 The Jelgava Palace becomes the dwelling place of the Livonia Order komtur 1562-1737 The palace is blown up by the order of Ernst Johan Biron 1737 The building of the new Jelgava Palace is started by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli 1738-1795 The palace becomes an administrative centre of the province of Courtland 1919 The army of Bermont – Avalov burns down the palace 1939 The Latvian Agriculture Academy starts the academic work in the palace 1944 The palace is burnt down again during the World War II 1957 The palace renewal starts Since 1961 The palace become the Latvian Agriculture Academy (since 1991 – the Latvia University of Agriculture).