One of the oldest wooden churches in Latvia, built in 1750. From the times of the church building, the church equipment was partially preserved. After the church restoration in 2009 - 2010, it has returned visually in 260 years old past, by preserving its splendor and elegance in its simplicity.
The church is situated at Baznīckalns (Church hill), which is an old church building site. The archaeological research testifies that in this place at least two churches were built. The church hill is also the site of an old cemetery.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the Great Northern war had just ended. In Vidzeme, many churches were destroyed. The old Turaida little church was also ruined.
During the peace period, the building of a new church was launched in Turaida manor in the times of the pastor Daniēls Merķelis. Turaida’s farmers do corvée – they raft woods along Gauja river, carry sand and stones for the stone foundation. The building works are carried out by local craftsmen, by observing national building traditions. On the hill, not far from Turaida castle, the church is being made from the hewed wood, built as 17 m long and 10 m wide building of one room.
Turaida church is consecrated on 28th January 1750 by Lielvārde pastor Jakobs Andrea. For the newly built church, the owner of Turaida manor house Oto Frīdrihs fon Budbergs donates tin candlesticks which still decorate the altar of the church.
In the course of time in Turaida church, the significant reconstructions had not taken place, and it stands beautiful and noble in its simplicity through the centuries. From the time of its building, the church equipment was partially preserved – the altar with the fence, pulpit, balustrade, and parish pews. In the building walls behind the altar the year «ANNO 1751» is notched, which most probably points at the time of altar erection.
The altarpiece “Golgotha” is on the altar, painted by an unknown author. The painting dated with the end of the 17th century – beginning of the 18th century is a distinguished piece of art of its time.
The interior of the church in 1926 is complemented by a new altarpiece “Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane”, made by an unknown author in the 1920s after the original of the artist Hofmanis. The altarpiece was given as a present to Turaida church on its 175th anniversary by Štauers family.
The originality and significance of the Turaida wooden church in Latvian sacral architecture is appraised by the monument authority of the Republic of Latvia, by attributing in 1932 the status of a protected architecture monument. Latvian climate is not beneficial to wooden buildings, so the repair works are carried out from time to time in Turaida church.
In 1808 the old sacristy at the church’s northern wall is torn down – the room where the parish keeps its cult objects and priests get ready for services. The new sacristy is built on the other side of the building, at the southern wall, and the facade of the church is painted in ochre yellow color. The significant repair works are also carried out in Turaida church in the first half of the 20th century. With the initiative of the energetic priest Bertrams Feders in 1926, the 175th anniversary of Turaida church was celebrated, the restoration works of the church were carried out.
After the repair works the church gains a new shape: outer walls covered with wooden planks are plastered up with modern technology for those times – cement plastering. Lēdurga-Turaida congregation is active in Turaida church, it was established in 1589. The united Lēdurga-Turaida evangelical Lutheran congregation functions until 1947.
In Soviet times, in 1956 the care of church building from Turaida parish is taken over by Sigulda local history museum. From 1969 to 1974 the archaeological and architectural research and restoration are taking place in Turaida church. The research of church history materials is carried out at the Latvian State Historical archive, the scientific research expeditions are taking place in Turaida and Lēdurga. Based on acquired testimonies and objects, in 1974 the exposition about Turaida church history and Church hill is established in the church.
At the moment Turaida church is situated in the territory of Specially Protected Cultural Monument – The Turaida Museum-Reserve. The church again serves its purpose – Turaida Evangelic Lutheran church operates in the church, the congregation was restored on 26th December 1991.
In order to preserve for the next generations the significant wooden architecture monument, in 2006 the artistic architectural research was carried out in the church. Based on the results acquired during the research, the church restoration took place in 2009 – 2010 within the program “The heritage 2018”. The historical technologies and the experience and skills of old craftsmen were taken into consideration during the church restoration, for example, by using the birch barks as insulation materials, making the paint for the church facade form rye flour paste, merged with red ochre pigment.
During the last year, Turaida church has changed, visually returning into 260 years old past. Turaida church now looks as it looked when it was built. Splendid and elegant in its simplicity, ready to live on at Turaida Church hill, creating a place of shelter and contemplation for locals and guests.
The Church hosts an exhibition on “History of the church of Turaida and the parish”, reflecting the history of church and congregation from 1750 up to nowadays. It tells about the building history of the Turaida church, the activities of the evangelic Lutheran congregation, the contributions of pastors to education and the preservation of cultural and historical heritage, and the importance of Christian traditions in the life of the people of the region. The exhibition covers the items of the Turaida museum reserve stock –old construction materials, postcards, photographs, documents, books written and translated by the pastors of Turaida. The exhibits have been obtained in archaeological research, thematic expeditions of Turaida church and received as gifts from local residents to the museum.
The memorial site of Turaida Rose holds the most beautiful Latvian legend of love and trust.
Maya – Turaida Rose – and Sigulda castle gardener Victor’s love story are based on real events that occurred in Turaida in the early 17th century.
Thousands of tourists listen to this legend every year, and several hundred newlyweds arrive at Turaida Rose’s memorial on their wedding day.