History of the garden

The park is planned south of the palace, including the nearby forest with its tall trees as a spectacular backdrop for the regular French garden which is only 10 hectares large. The Rastrelli garden design with the complex network of alleys, bosquets and pergolas resembles the structure of the Gardens of Versailles.

Archival documents provide extensive information about gardening, but the choice of plants can be judged by separate documents that mention orangery herbs and garden flowers delivered or confiscated for the Duke. These documents show that plants recommended in the 18th century gardening manuals were grown in the Duchy of Courland, without taking into account inappropriate climatic conditions. Even apricots and peaches grew in Duke’s orchards. Until 1739, 32,818 linden trees, 500 chestnuts, 188 oak trees were planted in the Rundāle Palace park, but in the orchard 95 pear trees, 1,555 apple trees, 40 plum trees, 20 cherry trees were planted.

In the second period of construction of the palace (1763-1768) the work in the park continued. In 1767, fountain pools were created, and in 1768 a pond was dug for the supply of water to the canal. Around 1777 two orchards, a hops garden and a “Wine Hill” were set up, in 1787 apricot and peach orchards were planted. Between 1774 and 1781, an adobe wall was built around the park.

After the abolition of the Duchy of Courland in 1795, the castle became the property of Valerian Zubov. The manor house had one gardener and two gardener’s assistants. Documents show that in 1802 at the stone wall there were orchards with peaches, apricots, pears, plums and grapes. A chestnut alley and a large zoo are also mentioned.


The regular park around 1820. Lithograph by F. Krauze after F. Bach’s drawing


The regular park with a lawn in the parterre, poplars and spruces. Photo, 1875

The Rundāle Palace Park was not affected by the 19th-century European fashion trend to create landscape parks instead of regular gardens. The 1974 tree inventory and cartography revealed that the design worked out by Rastrelli was repeated throughout all the 19th-century plantations. Only the parterre part was changed, creating round flower beds and planting a poplar circle and some spruces. In 1882, there have been alleys of sheared trees in the park.

The survey of park plantations and paths, which shows the compliance of the 19th century plantations with the Rastrelli design. E. Krauklis. 1974

The park was regularly cultivated until the First World War; later it grew over. A small cleaning up was carried out in the 1930s, when the Latvian Board of Monuments included the Rundāle Park into the list of monuments protected by the state. At that time, the canals were cleaned, the damaged trees were cut out, the paths were fixed, and the parterre and lawns were made with a pond in the centre.


The regular park. Photo, 1934

After the Second World War, sports grounds with a pond in the centre were built in the parterre. The linden trees of the central alley were trimmed to shoot.

An overgrown trimmed linden alley from the forest park to the castle. Photo, around 1973
The regular park. Photo, 1974