Sigulda Castle and Suha Arafat

Sigulda Castle also known as Sigulda New Castle (Latvian: Siguldas jaunā pils). Built in 1878 in the Neo-Gothic style as the living house for the owners of the manor, the Kropotkin family. The building has changed its owners and functions several times. Since 1993, the Sigulda Region Council has been located in the castle.

Contents 1 History 2 Gallery 3 See also 4 References 5 External links


The manor center began to develop in the fore-castle area of Sigulda Medieval Castle during the 17th century. There are still a few remaining 18th and 19th century buildings built during the ownership of the Von Borghs and Kropotkins. These are the Summer Castle, the New Castle, the White Castle, the vagar's (supervisor of serfs) house, the servants' house, a barn, a laundry house and a vegetable and fruit basement. The manor center is enclosed by chipped boulder walls with a splendid gate structure.

The New Castle was built during the time of Duchess Olga and Duke Dimitry Kropotkins from 1878 until 1881 using the materials from an older building which stood here during the 17th century.

The master’s house was built in neo-gothic style by Jānis Mengelis from Cēsis. The planning and the shape of the house is simple. The architectural and artistic value of the castle is achieved through the successful use of Gothic forms and the color shades from the recycled chipped boulders. Looking through any window, you will have a panoramic view of the Gauja valley including the ruins of Sigulda castle. Farther away you will see the ruins of Krimulda and Turaida. On the opposite side there is a neatly landscaped yard.

During World War I this building was destroyed. In 1922, following the agrarian reforms, New Castle became the Writers’ Castle because it was used by the Latvian Union of Writers and Journalists. The building was in unusable condition after the war so the Union had to invest a large amount of money for restoration. In the 1920’s and 30’s, full room and board was offered to writers and literary types as well as other visitors.

In 1934 the castle was acquired by the Latvian Press Society. From 1936 to 1937, major reconstruction work was done under the leadership of architect August Birkhans. Building plans were completely re-drawn. The overlook tower was heightened, the terrace around the building was expanded and a new balcony was added to the second floor. Inside, a new modern-age interior design was installed. It became the most notable example of national modern design in the Baltic region. Many famous artists of that time such as Niklāvs Strunke, Pēteris Ozoliņš, Kārlis Sūniņš, and Vilhelms Vasariņš took a part in creating it. Pictures of the castle were found in French art magazines as the press at the time would report. The Writers Castle became a popular visitor's destination after the renovation.

In 1938, the monument of Atis Kronvalds, made by Teodors Zalkalns, was unveiled at the front of the New Castle. Atis Kronvalds was a teacher and a publicist and helped initiate the second wave of the New Latvian movement.

During World War II, the New Castle was used as a headquarters for the Nord division of the German army. After the war, the USSR Council of Ministers made it a recreation house for high state officials. In 1953, the Health department of the Latvian SSR established the Sigulda rehabilitation center which was in operation until the restoration of Latvian independence.

From 1993 through 2002, the New Castle held the Sigulda City council and then, beginning in 2003, the Sigulda District Council.

Next to the New Castle there is a yellow house known as the Summer Castle. It was built at the turn of the 18th or 19th century in style of classicism. The elongated wooden house was built by a master-builder from Cēsis, a man called the last of the Livs of Vidzeme, Mārcis Sārums. Initially Kropotkin's family used the building as a personal orthodox church after the completion of the New Castle in 1881. Services were held by the orthodox priest of Ledurga parish. The building also came under reconstruction when the Writers and Journalists Union obtained ownership and remodeled it to become a boarding-house.

An art gallery was installed in the former brewery of Sigulda manor. Artist Elmārs Gaigalnieks has, over the past 12 years, created the unique technique of sand art which is in continuous development. In this special atmosphere, you can view the sand art and the three-dimensional installations. There is also a unique collection of sand samples from five continents. Gallery

Sigulda Castle garden

Backside of Sigulda Castle See also Turaida Castle

Suha Arafat and Sigulda Castle

Suha Arafat (Arabic: سهى عرفات‎; born Suha Daoud Tawil, Arabic: سهى داود الطويل‎) is the widow of former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Contents 1 Early life and education 2 Marriage to Arafat 3 After Arafat's death 4 See also 5 References

Early life and education

Suha was born in Jerusalem on 17 July 1963 into an affluent Roman Catholic family who lived in Nablus and then Ramallah (both cities under Jordanian rule at the time). Suha's father Daoud Tawil, an Oxford-educated banker, was born in Jaffa (now part of Tel Aviv). Daoud Tawil had business both in the West Bank and Jordan. Suha's mother, Raymonda Hawa Tawil, born in Acre, is a member of the Hawa family of Acre, prominent property owners in the Haifa area. She was a poet and writer. She became a politically active Palestinian militant after 1967 and was arrested several times by the Israelis, making her a media star. She was also a high-profile Palestinian journalist. Suha was raised Catholic. Suha, growing up in Ramallah, was influenced by the political activism of her mother conducted in the 1970s from her PLO-influenced news bureau in East Jerusalem.

Suha attended a convent school, Rosary Sisters' School, in Beit Hanina, Jerusalem. At age 18, she went to Paris to study, where she lived with her older sister, who was married to Ibrahim Souss, the PLO's then-ambassador to France. As a student, Suha was a leader in the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) in France, where she organized demonstrations for the Palestinian cause. Marriage to Arafat

Suha, with her mother and sisters, met Arafat for the first time in 1985. When he visited France in 1989, she acted as an interpreter at the meetings with visitors and French government officials. It is argued that through her mother Suha met her husband. However, it is also argued that Suha met Arafat in 1987 and 1988, and helped organize his visit to Paris in 1989.

Soon after his departure from Paris, Arafat asked Suha to come and work with him in Tunisia (where the Palestinian Liberation Organization had set up a haven). Suha converted to Islam and secretly married Arafat on 17 July 1990, when she was aged 27 and he was 61. Their only child, daughter Zahwa, was born on 24 July 1995 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. Zahwa was named after Arafat's mother.

During her marriage, she tried to leave Arafat on many occasions to escape the gossip aimed at her, but was not permitted to. She has said she loved the Palestinian leader but views her marriage to Arafat as a mistake, due to her becoming a political target.

In 2004, when Arafat was dying in a Paris hospital, she talked to him in an attempt to bring him out of his coma. Arafat died on 11 November 2004.

Suha inherited at least part of Yasser Arafat's personal fortune, estimated at the time to be between US$1.3 and US$6.5 billion, held mostly in Arab Bank and BNP, money he embezzled from the Palestinian Authority. After Arafat's death

Suha and Zahwa lived in Tunisia from 2004 to 2007. Suha had also lived in Tunisia before marrying Arafat. They obtained Tunisian citizenship in September 2006. Zahwa went to the American Cooperative School of Tunisia. From 1998 onward she lived in Tunisia and France on and off.

On 7 August 2007, Tunisia, without warning Suha, revoked her citizenship but not her daughter's. Suha claimed her Tunisian property was also frozen.

On 31 October 2011, the Tunis Court of First Instance issued an international arrest warrant for Suha, relating to corruption in a business deal that involved the former Tunisian first lady, Leila Ben Ali, in 2006. Initially, Suha proclaimed her complete cooperation with the Tunisian prosecutors. But shortly thereafter she denounced the prosecution as a Tunisian scheme to defame her and the Palestinian cause. She was, at the time, living in Malta. She also denied reports that she had any money or property belonging to the Palestinian national cause, and she said that she opposed normalization of relations with Israel.

On 27 November 2012, at the behest of Suha, Arafat's body was exhumed in the West Bank, in order to have samples taken from his remains. The purpose of the exhumation, according to Suha, is to determine whether he was poisoned from Polonium. See also Palestinian Christians
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