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The Routes of Latvia’s Statehood

The Routes of Latvia’s Statehood*

Seven routes in Latvia that are devoted to three dimensions of time – the past, the present and the future, inviting you to look at how the Latvian state was established and the twists and turns that it experienced in the more recent and more distant past.  You can evaluate benefits and resources and work with others to plan Latvia’s future.  These routes will allow you to learn about aspects of Latvia’s history, personalities, places and events that facilitated the establishment of the state and the emergence of its national identity.  Peer into the more distant past and remember the aspects of statehood that have existed in the territory of Latvia for many centuries and have become part of Latvia’s cultural world.  These routes are clearly meant to be travelled, because they are exciting, with destinations and farms to visit, with wealthy stories of memories and beautiful landscapes all around you.

LV100 ceļi

The 7 Routes of Latvia’s Statehood have been developed within the programme for celebration of the centenary of Latvia as a state. The celebration events continue from 2017 to 2021. The key message of the centenary celebration is „I am Latvia” focusing on people as the core value of the state. They shape today’s life in the country and, together with their young generation, they lay foundations for the future.

Project is supported by Valsts Kultūrkapitāla fonds.

*„Statehood” is a political and legal concept that speaks to direct and sovereign links between people and governments.  The concept allies to modern nation states, as well as to Medieval and more ancient political formations that spoke to personal links between people and rulers.  Thus statehood in the territory of Latvia has existed since the time when the power of large dynasties transformed into a relationship of public governance. (Egils Levits)

Esam uzsākuši kopīgu sadarbību ar "Autotransporta Direkciju", lai uzlabotu un veicinātu Latvijas iepazīšanu un apceļošanu tieši ar sabiedrisko transportu - autobusu un vilcienu.  Ceļošana ar sabiedrisko transportu ļauj iepazīt mazpilsētas, lauku reģionus, satikt vietējos iedzīvotājus un izbaudīt jaunus iespaidus.

Pie katra no 7 valstiskuma veidošanās ceļiem atrodama prakstiska informācija - maršruta sadalījums pa dienām, veicamie attālumi, katras dienas apskates vietas, foto galerija, kā arī vietējo stāsti un atmiņas par vēsturiskajiem notikumiem. Sniegta arī par to, kur paēst, pārnakšņot, kā sazināties ar apskates vietu un naktsmītņu saimniekiem.  Pie katra ceļa atradīsi sarakstu ar autobusu un vilcienu maršrutiem, kas Tevi aizvedīs pa katru no ceļiem - sabiedriskā transporta veidu, maršrutus un to pakalpojumu sniedzējus, kā arī noderīgus padomus ceļošanai ar sabiedrisko transportu, kas būtu jāzina pirms došanās ceļā - kur meklēt sabiedriskā transporta kustības grafikus, kā un kur iegādāties biļetes un kā ceļot kopā ar velosipēdu: https://www.celotajs.lv/lv/c/tour/tours/pubtrans/info

Jau šobrīd sabiedriskā transporta maršrutos - autobusos un vilcienos,  kas ved pa Latvijas valstiskuma ceļiem, ir izvietoti materiāli, kas mudina apceļot Latviju un pieejama informācija par šiem maršrutiem. 

What is the independent travel?
Overview Tour details
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5 days
Total distance driving 220 km
Latvia

Mara’s Road

After the establishment of the Livonian state, the pope consecrated this land in honour of the holy Virgin Mary.  This created Terra Mariana or Māra’s Land.  The road between Ludza, Rēzekne and Daugavpils runs along an ancient trading route that once connected Vilnius and Kaunas to Pskov and, later, to St Petersburg and Warsaw.

Very beautiful and poetically picturesque with rivers and lakes that are in Latvia’s forested land and among hillocks that offer a wonderful look at the distant horizon – that is Māra’s Land, which is also known as the Land of Blue Lakes.  Lake Rāzna is the second largest in Latvia, and when the weather is clear, Mākoņkalns Hill or Padebešu Hill is reflected in its water.  Atop the hill are the oldest ruins of fortifications in Latgale, dating back to the Livonian era.

Rēzekne is known as the heart of Latgale, because it has always been the centre for Lettigalian culture and education.  People contributed donations for the 1939 construction of a monument to Māra of Latgale.  It is dedicated to those who fell during Latvia’s independence battles and the liberation of Latgale.  The monument also speaks to the Catholic identity of Latgale.  The monument was rededicated on August 13, 1992, the date of the assumption of the Virgin Mary.  A Catholic festival at Aglona and the monument to Māra of Latgale – these are integral components of this part of Latvia.  The present day is marked out clearly by the new Gors concert hall in Rēzekne, and well as the Zeimuļš student interest education centre.

Daugavpils is Latvia’s second city and an important centre for industry, culture, education and sports.  The Daugavpils pellet factory is unique, and the oldest pellet casting tower in Europe is now open to visitors, as are the restored Daugavpils fortress and the new Rothko Museum.

Not far from Daugavpils are the small Birķeneļi semi-estate and the Rainis Museum.  Latgale was the “land of new days” for the poet, and the museum now hosts gatherings of young artists and craftspeople.  The ancient tradition of ceramic art that is typical specifically of this part of Latvia is still thriving.

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5 days
Total distance driving 200 km
Latvia

Light's Road

Ancient trade routes distributed not just products, but also knowledge, culture and everything that was new and unknown.  Pastor Ernest Glück, for instance, may have already started work on a translation of the Bible into Latvian when he travelled from the Daugavgrīva fortress near Rīga to Alūksne.  There he finished his masterpiece and planted two oak trees alongside the manse that are still there.  Glück also established the first school in Vidzeme for Latvian children.  He was a pastor, translator, author and teacher.  Thanks to him, the Hernhutian movement of brethren flourished in Vidzeme after the Great Northern War.  It directed spiritual and political development and brought Latvians closer to their national awakening.

Of great importance in the Path of Light is Piebalga, which became very important in terms of culture in Latvia.  Culture, science and even politics took on new meaning and sounds.  This is where Kārlis Skalbe, the Kaudzītes brothers, Jānis Poruks, Antons Austriņš and other major figures from the national awakening lived and worked.  The very spiritual aura in this place has not disappeared to this very day.

The fantastic Cesvaine castle has been renovated, and the narrow-gauge railroad between Gulbene and Alūksne is still rolling alone.  The ruins of the Marienburg castle in Alūksne conjure up visions of the hidden wealth of the Order of Templates and the young woman who was bricked into the castle’s walls.  No less intriguing is the story of Marta Skovronsky, who would rise to become Empress Catherine the Great of Russia.

The Madona Regional Research and Art Museum offers a look at the past and present, while the Ate windmill at Kancempji offers a look at more than 4,000 unique items from the history of our countryside, complete with buildings that are more than 100 years old.

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5 days
Total distance driving 215 km
Latvia

Jacob's Road

Duke Jacob of Courland was a ruler of the Duchy of Courland and Zemgale for 40 years (1642-1682).  There were great changes during his rule, with the ship building industry developing rapidly, the first factories appearing, and agricultural output improving.  The duke had a large fleet that brought grain, meat, butter, wool, timber and all that was manufactured at baronial estates in Zemgale and Courland to Western Europe.  The fleet was so big and strong that its ships sailed not just to Europe, but also all the way to Tobago and Gambia, where colonies were established to bring sugar, coffee and spices to Europe.

The duchy built ships, manufactured paper and saltpetre and wove textiles, brocade and tapestries.  Iron manufacturing was highly developed, and ore was imported from Sweden.  This made it possible to forge nails, anchors, bells, cannons and other firearms.  The duchy produced vodka, vinegar and gunpowder for which there was great demand in Europe, because there were attacks and defences that required it.  As much as 25 tonnes of gunpowder were produced each year.  One of the gunpowder towers is still in Kandava, though it has been rebuilt many times.  The duchy manufactured sails and ropes, as well as hemp ropes.  It was said that the fleet of the Queen of England would not have existed without those ropes.  The duke also thought about selection of grain, bred livestock, improved land with land reclamation and tried to expand output from his fields.

Jacob did not manage to do everything that he wanted to do.  A canal to avoid the Venta rapids was not finished, and plans such as the colonisation of Australia were not finished.  Yet the era of Duke Jacob was a period of great change in the territory of Latvia, and it has not gone unnoticed that the great achievements of the duke occurred on a small plot of European land.  That proves that wise management can ensure lots of progress.

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5 days
Total distance driving 370 km
Latvia

Liv's Road

Historians say that the Livs or Livonians lived in the territory of Latvia long ago, starting in the 10th century.  They populated Northern Kurzeme and the river banks of the Daugava and Gauja rivers.  They asked the first German tradesmen who appeared in the area about the price of textiles at the market in Visby.  This means that they were familiar with the island of Gotland.  The Livonians were courageous and spiritually strong seafarers, because only strong men can live with the sea, go fishing and seal trapping, and take root in the by no means fertile sands of the seashore.

The territory between Ģipka and Ovīši is known as the Livonian coastline.  There are still romantic seashore fishing villages of Livonian origin, as well as Cape Kolka, where the great Latvian activist Krišjānis Valdemārs insisted that it was the centre of Europe.  Livonians all along the seashore responded to his call by taking part in building sailing ships all the way up to Ainaži, where there was a maritime school.  That allowed the ships to sail to the far corners of the world, thus creating a century of sailing ships.  This wasn’t possible without the Livonians.  Also on the coastline are the oldest lighthouses in Latvia, with the one at Ovīši still serving as a star that shows the route for seaborne ships that are heading for Rīga.

The Livonian heritage is also seen in the tradition of fishing for lamprey eels – something that is still very much in place in Carnikava, Svētciems and Salacgrīva.  Old-time fishing equipment that cannot be seen anywhere else is on display in the latter town.

The Latvian nation emerged when the Livonians flowed together with the Lettigalians, the Livonians joke.  It may be that there is some truth in the anecdote.  Liv or Livonian culture, lifestyles and history are closely linked to Latvia and cannot be separated from it.

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N/A
8 days
Total distance driving 340 km
Latvia

Daugava's Road

The Daugava River is known as our river of destiny, the Daugava of our hearts, or our beloved mommy.  It is a large and full-blooded artery of water that has flowed through our land and our history.  The Vikings were aware of the river during the 5th century AD.  Krāslava is the site of an ancient castle hill, and the fearless sailors were well aware of it in that downriver from it, the ships could sail with raised sails.  It is known in Viking sagas as Dynasaiforgarðr.

Goods from the East sail down the river to Rīga, where it is reloaded into seafaring ships for delivery to Europe.  That has been the case for many centuries.  Many powers wanted to control and govern the process, as is seen in the large number of castle hills, castles and populated areas around the river’s banks.  The majestic ruins of the Koknese Castle, Krustpils, the grassy and mighty castle hill at Aizkraukle, another one at Daugmale.  The unique fortresses at Daugavgrīva and Daugavpils are like large keys that lock or unlock this mighty and ancient trade route.  Under the water in the Daugava are the ruins of the ancient Ikšķile Castle that was built by St Maynard himself.  It is seen as the first brick building in the Baltic States.  Nearby is Death Island, where Latvian riflemen fought for the future of their country and their land, defending each square metre of land.  The Daugava proved insurmountable for Bermont’s troops, and the riflemen defended Rīga successfully.

The curves of Daugava are unique.  The village of Slutišķi is particularly known because the Daugava there is just like it has been in the past.  The high dolomite shorelines and canyons that once made the Daugava unique in all of Northern Europe have now been lost in the reservoirs of hydroelectric power plants, as has the eternally weeping cliff of Staburags, the Liepavotu stream and the Pērse waterfall.  The age of national renaissance in Latvia importantly began with a battle against the construction of another power plant on the Daugava, which would have fully destroyed the beauty of the noble river.  We managed to protect it, if only a small part of it, but we succeeded.  We must not stop!

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N/A
5 days
Total distance driving 255 km
Latvia

Freedom’s Road

The historical route from Rīga to Liepāja passes through Dobele, Saldus, Skrunda, Durbe and Grobiņa, and it dates back to the 13th century.  Remnants of Scandinavian settlements near Grobiņa also testify to the antiquity of the region.

Many things happened on the road and around it that were directly linked to the establishment of the Republic of Latvia and to its subsequent freedom battles.  At the Tīreļpurvs swamp, Latvian riflemen demonstrated their battel capabilities and heroism during the so-called Christmas battles, thus proving that a new country had been born.  The trails of the swamp are open to visitors, and there is an historical exhibition at the Mangaļi homestead.  Rīga is clearly marked along this route by the Latvian National Theatre, where independence was proclaimed in 1918.  Later the hostile attack of Bermont’s forces was stopped at the banks of the Daugava, and the superior force was ejected from Rīga and Latvia.

Approximately 70 km from Rīga is the Pikšas museum, which is the birthplace of Latvian President Kārlis Ulmanis and a good example of farming between the two world wars.  The museum of Colonel Oskars Kalpaks at Airītes offers a look at battles that occurred in the region and at things that Kalpaks did during World War I and the subsequent liberation battles.  There were battles near Skrunda and Saldus, and it was in Liepāja that German General von der Goltz conducted a coup that led Latvia’s temporary government to seek refuge on the ship the Saratov, upon which it sailed to Rīga after the city’s liberation.  Liepāja has always been an important port, and once it offered passenger services all the way to New York.

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N/A
5 days
Total distance driving 350 km
Latvia

Baltic's Road

The Baltic Way was a unique demonstration at the Baltic, European and global level.  Never before had the residents of three countries joined hands in a single chain to link the capital cities of the three nations – Vilnius, Rīga and Tallinn.  The historical event occurred on the evening of August 23, 1989 and involved some two million people to recall events that had happened 50 years before – the conclusion of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that allowed the two superpowers of the day, Germany and the USSR, to divide up spheres of influence in Europe before the new world war.  The Baltic States lost their independence as a result of the pact.

The chain of demonstrators was some 600 km long, marking out the Baltic Way from Bauska to Rīga and then on to Sigulda, Cēsis, Valmiera and Rūjiena.  The route was known and used in the 14th and 15th century, or even earlier.  Testimony to this is given by the mighty castle hill at Mežotne and the ancient port alongside it.  The Bauska Castle was an important fort during the age of Livonia and, later, one of the residencies of the dukes of Courland.  Sigulda was well fortified on the banks of the Gauja River, with three stone castles nearby.  It was also a health spa.  Līgatne is important in industrial terms because of the paper factory that is there.  Āraiši is another ancient trade crossroad with a lake castle, ancient church, castle ruins and a famous windmill.  Cēsis is one of the historical diamonds of Vidzeme with its old town, the old and new castle, and the majestic views of the ancient Gauja River valley at the cliffs of Ērgļi.  Valmiera boasts of his St Simon’s Church, the Dāliņš stadium, its own theatre and the youthfulness of its own university college.  In Rūjiena, there is a monument to the Bugler of Tālava, which was carved by Kārlis Zemdega and installed in 1937 to commemorate the liberation of Rūjiena.  The monument survived all of the years after the war.  The engraving, “the bugler had to die, but the Latvians heard his call,” is very much in line with the Baltic Way on August 23, 1989.

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