After the wedding in Valmiera we headed west into the heart of Vidzeme, to the Dikļi Manor. Baron Paul von Wolf built the impressive neo-baroque style manor house in 1896. An interesting feature is the mansard roof; also called a French roof or curb roof, the four-sided gambrel-style hip roof has two separate slopes on each of its sides, with the lower slope being punctuated by dormer windows and at a steeper angle than the upper. This creates an additional floor of habitable space and allows for a lower profile.
In 1919 the mansion was given to the Valmiera district government at which point it was converted into an orphanage. In later years it also served as sanatorium, but in 2003 was reborn as a hotel after an extensive restoration. Attention to detail ensured the old wooden trim and ornate fireplaces (check out Stephanie's album!) were returned to the previous palatial state, and with elaborate staircases and an impressive collection of art from Latvian painters the chateau is truly a historical treasure.
However entrancing the manor’s interior was, I most enjoyed the grounds. Home to around twenty exotic trees including American balsam fir and Douglas fir, there are also several ‘grand trees’ on the property, ancient things that have made it into the record books because of their girth or age. White storks could be seen searching for frogs in the meadow, and the sound of the wind and birds provided background music between band sets.
50 acres of carefully groomed gardens, walking paths and ponds provide more than enough space for a long stroll after dinner or exploration between events. The boys found hours of amusement in the several playgrounds and giant swing, and for those couples seeking a romantic moment of solitude, a rowboat can be used to venture out on the pond.
The wedding reception was held in a tent on the main lawn of the manor house grounds, just adjacent to the hall where the rehearsal dinner took place. Music and laughter could be heard even into the early morning as wedding guests celebrated the union between Līga and Matīss.
Our room was on the second floor, up the grand staircase and down a hallway lined with portraits and antique furniture. The couple’s extended family was squeezed into the 26 rooms and three suites in the Manor house, with overflow of close friends staying in the 13 renovated barn house rooms. Guests enjoyed appointments at the spa, gourmet meals at the restaurant, and nearby Valmiermuižas brewery tour and beer tasting.
Breakfast was served in the sun room, with guests lingering into the early afternoon catching up over cups of coffee and a delicious spread. Listening to the clinking of silverware and the muted voices in the ballroom it was easy to be transported back a century, imagining grandly dressed couples attending a formal dinner within the majestic hall.
It was long after Cinderella had already hurried from the palace that we packed and continued on the three day wedding journey – to the atkāzas taking place on the shore of the Baltic Sea in picturesque village Saulkrasti.