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Culture of Latvia

Latvia is a country with a history of a millennia. The many monuments and historical cities, two World Heritage sites and also numerous masterpieces created by painters, musicians, writers and scientists are awaiting all visitors of the country.

The midsummer festival of Ligo or Jani takes place every year between June 23rd and 24th to celebrate the shortest night of the year.

Latvian Song and Dance festivals are one of the most important events in Latvia. The country won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2002, and hosted the event on May 24, 2003


Traditional dishes to taste are the Kimenu siers (caraway cheese), borshch (beet soup), rasols (potato salad), and sauerkraut. There is also a Latvian version of the smorgasbord, Aukstais galds, piragi. Popular drinks are beer, vodka, and balzam. Pickled mushrooms are also a Latvian speciality. Close to the sea restaurants offer fresh seafood.

World Heritage

Historic Centre of Riga
Riga was a major centre of the Hanseatic League, deriving its prosperity in the 13th-15th centuries from the trade with central and eastern Europe. The urban fabric of its medieval centre reflects this prosperity, though most of the earliest buildings were destroyed by fire or war. Riga became an important economic centre in the 19th century, when the suburbs surrounding the medieval town were laid out, first with imposing wooden buildings in neoclassical style and then in Jugendstil. It is generally recognized that Riga has the finest collection of art nouveau buildings in Europe.

Struve Geodetic Arc
The Struve Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820km. These are points of a survey, carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. This helped establish the exact size and shape of our planet and marked an important step in the development of earth sciences and topographic mapping. It is an extraordinary example of scientific collaboration among scientists from different countries, and of collaboration between monarchs for a scientific cause. The original arc consisted of 258 main triangles with 265 main station points. The listed site includes 34 of the original station points, with different markings, i.e. a drilled hole in rock, iron cross, cairns, or built obelisks.

Properties submitted on the Tentative List

Daugavpils Fortress
Daugavpils fortress is stylistically monolithic Classicism style ensemble, reflecting the urban construction ideas of the time. Monumental fortification system consists of ramparts, bastions, ravelins, dungeons with massive brick arches and other elements. The construction of the fortress was started in 1810 (engineer J.F.Hekel). The foundation forms a fortified town, where the territory is divided into quarters. There was an angular square in the middle part and the Jesuit cathedral was located at one side (1737 - 1746) vertical dominant of the ensemble (destroyed in 1944). A detail plan for the fortress was drafted in 1816 after the design of architect I. Truzson. The plan determines functional zones, differentiate streets and other details. The main buildings of the fortress are the barracks, dwelling houses for officers, hospital, staff and commandant buildings, engineers' and artillery arsenal as well as fortress gates and other edifices built in 1816 - 1830 after the design of architect A.E.Shtaubert. Daugavpils fortress is a significant fortification building, the only one of this kind and scale in the Baltic states. It is well maintained and gives an overall impression of the civil engineering achievements of the time. The fortress influenced the development of quality military architecture all over the Daugavpils city, developed as well in the classicism style on the iron-grid based urban lay-out. In 1860 there the St. Petersburg- Warsov railway line and the railway bridge over Daugava were completed. In that way the fortress lost its military significance and was turned to the complex storage building and prison and partly still serves for those purposes.

Jurmala town cultural and natural heritage
The town of Jurmala flattens to the coastline of Riga gulf for 30 km. Its structure consists of three former towns (Riga Jurmala, Sloka and Kemeri), that were united in 1959. The territory has intensively developed since the middle of the 19.century due to essential natural values - coastline of Riga gulf and beach, pine tree wood between the sea and river Lielupe, medical mud and mineral water found in the ponds of Kemeri. The unification of these components has served as a basis for acknowledgement of Jurmala as climatological and balneological resort, attractive relaxation and cure place. Till the beginning of 2l.century the town has preserved approx. 4000 buildings belonging to the historical construction of the town. The constructions include outstanding examples of different styles - from the classicism of the 19th century till the modernism of the first part of the 20th century. Most of the buildings are wooden summer-houses and residential houses as well ass pa-resort public buildings. Since 1871 the main means of transportation is train, remaining the station buildings of the late 19th century and early 20th century. The territory proposed for inclusion in the World Heritage Tentative list is the Eastern part of the town -from the mouth of the river Lielupe till the territory of former fishermen village in Dubulti that for the first time was mentioned in historical sources in 16th century. Here the distance between the river Lielupe and the sea is 500 metres. Besides the significant natural values in the Eastern part of the town, there are two territories of urban construction monuments of state significance and three territories of urban construction monuments of local significance, as well as monuments of art and history.

Livs' village "Kosrags"
Kosrags appeared at least in 1680 when its farm "Kukini" was mentioned in chronicles for the first time. By 1770 there were already 4 old farms in Kosrags (Kine Diki, Kukini, Tilmaci and Zoki). We know of two tenant-farner habitations that existed there in 1896, and were joined by another 7 habitations after 1905. The village was populated by Livs - a small ethnos that belongs to Balto-Finns and speaks an ancient Finno-Ugrish language. Little by little thay assimilated with Latvians who entered the village gradually.The houses in the village were built rather densely along the two roads:

1) the old littoral road connecting all 16 Livs' fishermen villages at that time:

2) the fishermen s road leading from the littoral road - it connected the villages with the working place near the sea. These roads have preserved their ancient shape till the present day.

Abava Valley
The territory was developed along the historical road form Riga to Prussia and Northern Germany, traced through the Abava Valley.

Many cultural and historical monuments, located along the river and valleys of its tributaries the lmula and the Amula, are the evidence of history of the Latvia. Within this territory there are eight hillforts with settlements, nine ancient burial sites, five ancient pagan cult sites, two medieval castles, two historical town centres, several estate centres and monuments of architecture and art.

Concentration of cultural and historical monuments in the Abava Valley and its vicinity gives proof of the particular attractiveness of this and other surrounding objects of nature. Many of nature objects are under State protection. Along with the Abava Valley itself, which is a complex restricted area of nature, in the Abava Valley's vicinity there are 16 objects of nature under protection of State. Among them such favourite tourist sites as Devil's Stone, Devil's Cave and Chambers of Mara (Latvian pagan Goddess), at the same time historical monuments, should be mentioned, as well as five rocks, seven rapids and three historical estate parks. There are also more than 20 old tree under State protection there.

The Abava valley and tributary valleys and towns- Kandava and Sabile as well the village Renda constitute the landscape spatial structure of the territory. The most attractive part of the Abava Valley is the Kandava - Sabile section where open agricultural landscape prevails; yet the forests are covering the steep slopes of the valley.

The dimensional structure of the scenery has formed when the dwelling and agricultural areas gradually enlarged. As a result the functional types of scenery originate - urbanised (towns, suburbs, densely populated regions), rural sceneries and sceneries of woods and forests. When the significance of separate roads enlarged, specific linear sceneries appeared which are closely connected with the roads.

In 20 June 1996 the Republic of Latvia Cabinet of Ministers adopted Regulations "On the specially protected cultural territory "The Abava Valley".

Kuldiga Old City in the Primeval Hollow of the River Venta
Historically the river Venta and Venta falls had been significant factors in developing Kuldiga town. The following heritage objects are geographically connected with the valley of the river Venta: Old Kuldiga castle mound, Kuldiga Castle, Venta channel.

Old Kuldiga castle mound is located on the left bank of the river Venta below Venta falls by the estuary of Old Kuldiga nullah in the river Venta. The natural watercourses protected the biggest castle mound of Latvia from three sides. The castle mound and the ancient town occupied in total more than 1 ha big area. There was Old Kuldiga town with an area of about 10 ha behind the southwest wall and ditch. In 1355 the citizens of the ancient town had to move closer to the newly built stone castle built by the knights in the territory of the present town. There are several legends (about underground passages, copper pendants) and tales (events described in 10th century about the Cours King's Dorno brave resistance to the attack led by Danish Viking Hedding's son Frodi) about the castle mound. This castle mound is a heritage monument of national importance.

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