Gutmana Ala

Gutmanis Cave - Gūtmaņa Ala - Пещера Гутмана

Useful Information

Gutmana Ala, a postcard from 1912. Public Domain.
Gutmana Ala. Public Domain.
Location: 50 m off Turaidas iela. Near Sigulda, 53 km east of Riga.
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologysandstone cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=19 m. Portal: W=12 m, H=10 m.
Guided tours: n/a
Bibliography: Eckhard Göbel (1993): Höhlen im Gauja-Nationalpark (Lettland), Der Grottenolm - Mitteilungsheft des HFC Bad Hersfeld e.V., Heft 4/93, S.4-5. (Deutsch - German)
Pilsetas Plans sigulda, Iana Seta Verlag Riga, 1993 (Latvian)
Michel Helleu (2002): La Grotte de Gutmanis / une caverne des amoureux au cœur d'un pays de légendes, Grottes et Gouffres (158) 26-27, 2 photos. [a cave of love in the heart of the land of legends]. (Français - French)
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1620 Maija died.


Gutmana Ala, an old engraving of the cave, 19th century. Public Domain.
1860 drawing of Gutmanis cave by Louis Höflinger. Public Domain.

Gutmana Ala is small cave, not much more than an overhanging rock, and its outstanding feature are the inscriptions on the wall. To be honest, the walls are completely covered with chiseled inscriptions of lovers' names. The oldest inscriptions are from the 17th-century.

Very close connected to the cave is the story of Maija, the Rose of Turaida (*1601-✝1620). Her grave is the last one on the graveyard on Baznicka Kalns (church hill). Ever since her legendary death, lovers have carved their names in the cave wall.

A 19 years old, aristocratic girl named Maija fell in love with the gardener of Turaidas pils (Turaida Castle), Viktor. He loved her back and they met daily in the secrecy of Gutmana Ala.

The Polish officer Jakubowsky loved Maija desperately, but she did not like him at all. He wrote a letter to her - in the name of the gardener - and told her to meet a little bit earlier next time. Then he awaited her at the cave.

When Maija came to the cave, Jakubowsky asked her again, if she would like to marry him, and Maija refused again. So he took out his sword and told her, he was going to force her.

To avoid this fate, worse than death, Maija told Jakubowsky, her scarf - which Victor had given her - was magic and would protect her from all harm. She explained, it would even stop his sword from hurting her. So she took it around her neck, and told him to try if he did not believe.

Jakubowsky struck the scarf and, as the scarf magic did not work, decapitated Maija. Then he hanged himself in the forest. Later, at the regular meeting time, Viktor found Maija dead in the cave.

This story is a local legend, based on facts (the grave exists) but maybe a little bedecked.

The cave was formed by the river Gauja, which cuts through a sandstone layer and forms a picturesque gorge with several river caves. Thats why this area is called "Latvian Switzerland".

Although this cave is only 19 m long, it is Latvia's largest cave! And it has another interesting feature: inside the cave is a small spring. This may be the basis of the following legend:

The Liv chieftain Rindaugas accused his wife of being unfaithful and buried her alive in a steep bank of the Gauja river. Her tears turned into a stream which created the cave.