Araisi Lake Fortress – Drabeši parish, Latvia - Atlas Obscura

Araisi Lake Fortress

Drabeši parish, Latvia

This wooden recreation of a 9th century lake village looks as though it was built yesterday (which it relatively was). 


Sitting on an island in Latvia’s Āraiši Lake, the Āraiši Lake Fortress is a faithful recreation of the ancient village that would have stood on the spot in the 9th-10th century. 

Remains of such lake villages or fortresses have been found from couple of other lakes in Northern-Latvia and Southern-Estonia. However the remains of the Āraiši village appear to be the best preserved, and thus, as exact a replica as researchers could come up with was built on the spot using new materials. The remains of buildings from the original village that were uncovered during the 1960s and 1970s, and were studied in minute detail to discern just how the ancient constructions might have looked. The project to reconstruct the village-fortress was then initiated in 1993.  

To reconstruct the village, the water level of the lake was dropped about five feet, and large trunks and timbers were brought to the site to create the rustic looking dwellings. Despite having found the remains of 151 wood buildings at the site, only 14 were recreated on the Āraiši Lake Fortress site, which was then connected to the mainland by a thin bridge.

The fortress is located on the larger Āraiši Museum Park which also features the nearby remains of a stone castle, and some recreated stone dwellings as well. The park is the perfect destination for time travelers on a budget who can simply stroll into the wooden island fortress and be transported back to the 9th Century.  

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