Stunning Ungurmuiža manor up for auction

One of Latvia's most striking manor houses with a 300-year-old history – Ungurmuiža in Cēsis district – is looking for a new custodian. 

Currently, the manor belongs to the municipality, but in February the members of the Cēsis District Council voted for the liquidation of the company managing the property, SIA "Ungurmuiža", which belongs to the municipality. 

After considering several alternative management models, it was decided to announce an auction of the manor's leasehold rights.

The long-time manager of Ungurmuiža, Ieva Nečerova, said that the manor is unique in Latvia – it was built in 1732 and is the only wooden manor of its type in Latvia that is in a good state of repair.

"It is unique not only in its architecture, but also with its wall paintings, because it is the only one where there are paintings in almost every room, directly on the wooden walls. Every year we restore some of the wall paintings, they are wonderful original works by Georg Dietrich Hinsch, paintings from the middle of the 18th century. This is the unique thing that you will not see elsewhere in Latvia."

Not only the manor building itself is important, but also the entire complex with the large park.

"Ungurmuiža has successfully hidden from all adversity over the years," said Nečerova. "There are no workshops or a water tower built in the middle in Soviet times, as it is in other places."

In recent years, extensive work has been invested in the manor to restore the unique paintings. Various events have also taken place here, and the manor also provides accommodation services and a restaurant.

Deputy chairperson of the Cēsis County Council, Inese Suija-Markova (New Unity) said: "In recent years, we have received a clear instruction from the State Audit Office that the function of the municipality is not to deal with the hotel and restaurant business, because it is a business where there is competition in the market, and there should be a place for the private sector.

"If we look at what remains in the manor, then in fact the manor is no longer able to support itself. Also until now, those financial indicators showed that we are actually subsidizing economic activity."

However, anyone ineterested in taking over Ungurmuiža will have to comply with strict rules on preserving cultural heritage for the greater good, including public access. Also, the potential tenant should take into account the fact that the manor complex also requires significant capital investment.

"The roof, which is in a critical situation, must be replaced, the balconies must be restored, the facades of the buildings must be painted, quite a lot of things must be arranged, therefore the wallet [of the buyer] must be very, very thick. This entrepreneur must be a patron who also cares about and appreciates such cultural and historical values," said Nečerova.

Currently, it is planned to auction the rights to the manor for 10 years, which is a relatively short time. Suija-Markova said that if the tenant takes good care of the manor, this can be extended. According to the current legislation, the maximum period for which the municipality can lease the manor is 30 years.

An auction of Ungurmuiža's leasehold rights will be held on April 9, while applications to participate must be submitted by April 5. If you're interested in bidding, you'll find full details here.


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