It may seem that the oldest history of Bauska was sinking into obscurity at one time. The sad buildings of the older part of town told historical stories only to those who were in the know. And yet then a miracle happened. After 300 years of collapse, the Bauska Castle, which was once the residence of the dukes of Kurzeme, rose again, and after 160 years of negligence, the tower of City Hall which was once the pride and joy of the city’s retailers and craftsmen reappeared. The Church of the Holy Spirit in Bauska has protected the city’s historical treasures for several centuries.
After the establishment of the Duchy of Kurzeme and Zemgale in the latter half of the 16th century, Bauska experienced its true golden age. Albeit for just a short period of time, it was the administrative centre of the duchy, with the dukes living at the Bauska Castle. Bauska was also an important trading post because it was on the road between Lithuania and Rīga. In 1584 Duke Gothard Kettler of Kurzeme decided that his residence at Vairogmiests had become too narrow, and he decided to move to the new town on the banks of the Memel River. Improvements to the new territory had already been done, and the Church of the Holy Trinity was erected for a Latvian congregation in 1573.
By 1594, Bauska also had the Church of the Holy Spirit for a German congregation, and the remains of people buried at the old Church of St Gertrude, which was to be torn down, were reinterred there. The main streets of the town were installed at that time – two along the Memel River (Rīgas Street and Plūdoņa Street today) and smaller streets between them. The central market square was installed between the two churches.
Bauska was established properly in 1609, when Duke Friedrich of Kurzeme presented the town’s fathers with a seal bearing the image of a lion. This is still a part of the city’s herald today. In 1615, the duke gave permission for the construction of City Hall, and in 1635 he granted a charter to the town which stated that the council must have, as its members, a mayor, a judge, a judicial representative of the duke, a secretary, and five council members. The building that was erected for the council in 1616 testifies to the vast wealth and scope of the town’s leaders. Even the council in Jelgava did not have such a large and ornate structure.