In pictures: the Gauja National Park

SIGULDA, Latvia — There’s something mystical about the Gauja National Park.

Between the thick pine forests, the sandstone cliffs, the castles and the occasional fog, it has an atmosphere all it’s own and is widely considered the best place for natural beauty in Latvia.

It’s been called “Livonia’s Switzerland.” That’s a bit misleading as those looking for another Alps will be disappointed but if you are in Latvia this summer and haven’t seen it, remember it’s only a half-hour drive from Riga for one of the most gorgeous parks in the Baltics. Instead of Switzerland, it reminds me more of the nature areas of Wisconsin Dells (yes, I’m from the Midwest) except with medieval castles instead of tacky rides. It’s the most impressive national park in the Baltic states.

To give an idea of how it looks, Baltic Reports put together the photo essay “Into the Gauja” with the help of talented regional photographers.

Photo by Toivo Annus.

Mystic hills. Photo by Monique Diks.

Canoeing on the Gauja River is popular. Photo by Zigmārs Jānis Ziemelis.

Is that Wisconsin Dells? No, its the Devonite sandstone cliffs along the Gauja. Photo by Gatis Pāvils.

See a swan while boating. Photo by Anjči.

Sometimes sparks fly in the park. Photo by Zigmārs Jānis Ziemelis.

Thrillseekers can bungee jump from the aerial tramway that goes over the river. Photo by Jānis Puriņš.

Endless trees. Photo by Upey Noz.

Hello Mr. Goat! Photo by Carlo Ghio.

Camping is an option in the park. Photo by Zigmārs Jānis Ziemelis.

Turaida Castle in the distance. Photo by Krists Ozoliņš.

A boy takes a lift up to the castle. Photo by Pete Ford.

Turaida Castle, built in the 1200s. Photo by Maurice de Beijer.

A view of how the park will look in a few months from the guard tower at Turaida Castle. Photo by Martijn Munneke.

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