SEASON: January – December
FOR WHOM: individuals / groups (max 10 pers.)
SERVICES INCLUDED: 3-4 hours
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: bus ‘Rīga – Ainaži / Rīga – Limbaži / Rīga – Saulkrasti’ to Saulkrasti (~1 h 7 min), change for bus ‘Saulkrasti – Sigulda’ to bus stop ‘Sējas skola’ (32 – 48 min). Walk to Sauna museum (~110 m / 2 min).
HOSTS: Evita and Teodors Karlsoni
ADDRESS: Birzes, Sēja, Sējas nov., LV-2142, Latvia
DISTANCE: Riga 40 km
Sauna Museum is a private open-air museum. The museum’s exposition consists of six historic saunas and one newly built sauna. The historic saunas have been brought here from regions of Latvia – Latgale, Vidzeme and Kurzeme. All of them are in use, but the hosts especially recommend their guests to enjoy the special atmosphere of the ‘black sauna’ – the oldest type of sauna in Latvia. It is a wooden log building without a chimney. It has small windows, doors and cracks in the walls. One can notice that the sauna is being heated as the clouds of smoke come out through all openings and spread that special smell of sauna. The fire heats not only the stones piled up inside the sauna house but also the walls. During the heating, the smoke circulates around the sauna room, while the soot accumulates on the stove stones, where it burns completely, as well as on the on the ceiling and walls, thus ensuring a sterile environment in the sauna.
The museum has been in continuous development since its foundation in 2008, and in future it is planned to expand the museum to twenty different saunas from all localities of Latvia. The museum has been awarded the label “Latvian Heritage”, which is awarded to rural tourism entrepreneurs who preserve the traditional values of Latvia and integrate them in modern life. The Sauna Museum is a recrea- tion place for families and everyone who wants to get to know sauna traditions listening to a knowledgeable guide, or enjoying unique values of a sauna under the supervision of a skilled sauna master. Bath towels and hats are provided.
In addition, the museum hosts are engaged in bee-keeping, thus it is possible to taste and buy honey. It is possible to pre-order a fish dish – salmon or trout smoked in black sauna, which is prepared there during heating the sauna. Bath towels and hats are available.
- A tour of the Sauna Museum, presenting the history of the traditional sauna and regional features in both the sauna construction and bathing habits (duration ca 1h).
- Optional ‘Black sauna’ experience under supervision of a sauna master (duration ca 2-3 hours). Guests can use scrubs and get a special bathing ritual – gentle beating with special sauna whisks made of plants.
- After the hot sauna the guests can refresh themselves in the nearby pond.
- Relaxing and enjoying herbal teas with honey, up to 10 different sorts honey are available.