Earth : Europe : Baltic states : Latvia : Kurzeme : Kuldiga
Kuldiga is a town in Latvia.
Kuldiga town in the Kurzeme region (formerly Courland) with its historical part and Valley of the River Venta is known as “The Latvian Venice”. Indeed the river flows along the walls of many of the town’s houses.
The vision of the local authorities is to make the old town of Kuldiga an important international tourism destination, with the potential to attract domestic and foreign tourists and contribute to the sustainable development of the town.
The tourism recourses of Kuldiga town are based on its historical and cultural heritage and the Venta River which is one of the largest and most picturesque rivers of Latvia.
The historic and architectural heritage of Kuldiga is well preserved. In the park near the Kuldiga district museum fragments of the stone wall and the cellar of the first Kuldiga castle, built in 1242 by German knights, have been preserved to this day. Later Duke Jacob’s castle (ruined in 1701) was situated there as well. Today it is a sculpture park. The old brick bridge across the Venta, built in 1874, is one of the longest of such type of bridges in Europe. The bridge was built according to the road standards of the 19th century (500 feet long and 26 feet wide), so that two carriages could pass next to each other on it.
The town square was an old assembly place for people. Traditional cultural heritage is part of everyday life in Kuldiga with textile workshops, celebrations of national festivals and also with more contemporary events such as the annual running competition on the Alekšupīte (River of Aleksis) and the ‘naked people run’ over the historical bridge on the Venta River at Midsummer night.
You must see
The Historical Centre of Kuldīga Kuldīga is a small and attractive town in Kurzeme which has always been admired and praised by poets and painters. The city centre, which developed in the 17th –18th centuries, has still preserved the old wooden buildings which form small and narrow streets.
The old brick bridge across the Venta was built in 1874 and is the longest bridge of this kind of road bridge in Europe – 14 m. It was built according to 19th century standards – 500 feet long and 26 feet wide, allowing two carriages to pass. It consisted of seven spans of brick vaults. During World War I two of the spans were blown up.
Liepājas street An pedestrian street with several 17th-20th buildings, interesting doors and special windows.
Sculptress Livija Rezevska’s sculpture museum Founded in 2003. The visitors may see more than 15 sculptures charactrizing Latvian nation, its strenght unity and love.
The Riežupe Sand Caves The Riežupe Sand Caves make up the longest underground cave labyrinth in Latvia (about 2km, 460 m can be toured). During Duke Jacob’s reign the sand from Riežupe sand caves was taken by ships abroad for glass production.
The origin of the ancient town Kuldiga (Kuldīga – in Latvian) can be explained by its location on the crossroads: the waterways of River Venta and land routes joining the Prussian lands with the lower reaches of River Daugava. The ancient Kuldiga town of Couronians – a fortified castle mound and a settlement were located 3,5 km to the North down the River Venta on its left bank. The castle mound can be observed nowadays still. It is located on a bank of the River Venta on the foreland between the deep gully of the River Veckuldīga and the ancient valley of the Venta. The Site of the Castle itself is located in the several hectare wide area, but together with the Old City of Kuldiga – the area of more than ten hectares. There might have been a port by the River Veckuldīga.
In April 19, 1242 theLivonian Order of Knights received the master’s permission to build a castle on the banks of River Venta. As this is the oldest preserved written document where Kuldiga is mentioned, it is considered to be the year of the foundation of Kuldiga. The Castle of the Livonian Order of Knights was built on the left bank of River Venta by the ford, and the dolomite from the riverbed was used as construction material. In 1263, the castle and settlements around it were already mentioned as town Kuldiga, and its rights as for a town were based on Riga city rights.
In April 28, 1355, the Order’s master Gosvin von Herike allocated new land areas. At the same time he attributed a new privilege to the town, as well as a coat of arms with the image of St. Catherine. From 1439 Kuldiga was given a privilege to arrange a market weekly. The town was established by joining the three main populated areas: the town, the small village of the castle (town of the Couronians) and the village on the hill (so called “Kalnamiests” in Latvian) (in the area of Kalna iela today). The Komtur lived in the Castle of Livonian Order together with his twelve brothers being knights and with so called stepbrothers who took care about the economic life. The Komtur also lead the Komturei of Kuldiga which had also Durbe, Sabile, Skrunda, Aizpute, Alsunga and Saldus along with Kuldiga in possession.
After establishing the Dukedom of Kurzeme and Zemgale in 1561, a new period began in the history of Kuldiga. The first duke Gothard Kettler chose the former order castle to be one of his residences. He and also later other dukes approved the former town rights of Kuldiga by supporting its economic development. When the duke Gothard died, the dukedom was divided into two parts and till the year of 1618 Kuldiga was the residence of his youngest son Vilhelm and a capital of Kurzeme. The town made profit from trading with Riga and Jelgava because of the taxes on all the goods taken across the bridge. In 1615, the bridge was destroyed by floods causing a great loss to the town. In the same year, there was a huge fire destroying the major part of the wood construction in the town. After reconstruction of the town, a new market place was established (the Square of the City Council nowadays) and a new Town Hall was built (baznīcas iela 5 nowadays) which we now name as the old one. So the centre of the town was moved from the old place near by the St. Catherine’s Church to the present Square of the City Council. The richest citizens and merchants built their houses around the new centre of the town. In the second part of the 19 century, small industrial companies began to be developed in the town. Some of them became to be factories with more than 100 workers. The largest factory in Kuldiga was the factory “Vulkāns” producing matches (established in 1878 and closed in 2004), and the label of matchboxes had an image of a deer on it. The second largest was the factory of Vintelers Tūki. Besides, such things as needles, cigars, soap, vodka, liqueurs and mineral water were produced in Kuldiga. Beer brewing was the tradition with deep routes – beer was brewed in the order castle, in duke’s manors and in the town as well. Lots of new buildings were built in this period of time – not only residential buildings, but also municipal and public buildings were built. After several centuries, Kuldiga got a new bridge across the River Venta (1873-74), a new Town Hall was built (1868), the Orthodox Parish House and a church in Liepājas iela, a prison (which is a post nowadays), the House of Latvian Society (which is the Centre for Culture nowadays), the German Gymnasium in Kalna iela 19 and other buildings as well. Soon the number of local inhabitants doubled reaching 13 thousands just before the World War I.
Hotel Metropole Kuldīga
Hotel offers 14 furnished rooms. Each room is equipped with cable TV, bathroom with shower or bath and a phone. From the windows, a sight to the busiest pedestrian street of Kuldiga, Liepaja Street, opens, but in case you want more quiet view, hotel has rooms with view to the river Aleksu that cranks though the very heart of Kuldiga.
Kolonna Hotel Kuldīga
Kolonna Hotel Kuldiga is a budget hotel in the centre of the western Latvian town of Kuldiga, close to the old town, the park and the river. In the early 70 - ties a hotel “Kursa’’ was built in the new center of the town.