Daugavpils is the southernmost city in Latvia and is only three dozen kilometers away from neighboring Lithuania and Belarus. The city is often called the cultural capital of the eastern region of the country, because Daugavpils boasts a long history rich in many bright events. Founded by knights-swordsmen, it has repeatedly become a trophy of warlike conquerors-neighbors. Choosing what to see in Daugavpils, you can count on architectural landmarks of different eras and cultures. In addition to man-made monuments, the city has picturesque lakes and parks, and therefore lovers of nature and active entertainment in Daugavpils will be no less interesting than fans of history.
TOP-10 attractions of Daugavpils
Dinaburg castle - layout
Having founded the city at the beginning of the XIII century, the knights-swordsmen first of all built a wooden fortress. From this moment, the history of Daugavpils begins, through which the trade route from Polotsk and Pskov to the Baltic passed. In 1275, the wooden walls were replaced with stone ones, and the new castle became the seat of the Master of the Livonian Order, Ernst von Ratzeburg. The building turned into an important stronghold that helped the Order to fight the claims of the Lithuanian and Russian principalities attacking Dinaburg.
The castle was destroyed many times, but the Order masters rebuilt the fort and continued to defend themselves. Finally, in 1577, Ivan the Terrible, who seized Dinaburg, ordered to dismantle the fortress walls to the ground.
Today you can look at the legendary castle, which gave rise to Daugavpils, in the Daugavas Loki park, where in 1996 the exact model of the fortress was recreated.
In 1810, Alexander I set out to strengthen the western borders of the Russian Empire in connection with the threat of war with the French. The military engineer EF Gekel was entrusted to build a defensive structure in Daugavpils.
During the war, the building was badly damaged, then it was restored, and in 1833 it was consecrated. However, it was not necessary to talk about the final readiness of the fort until 1878, when the work was finally completed.
During its existence, the Daugavpils fortress managed to be not only a place of deployment of a military garrison and a military arsenal, but also a shelter for orphans and soldiers' children, a fire station and a warehouse. During World War II, units of the German army were stationed in the fort and a camp for Soviet prisoners of war was organized.
Currently, the complex of buildings is being restored and improved, some of the premises are open for tourists. During the tour, you can see several fortress gates, a parade area, household and residential buildings.
Daugavpils Fortress is nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The old center of Daugavpils was built in a single architectural style called "Latgalian Baroque". It is impossible not to remember the special shape of the red stone building with decorative elements. The architectural ensemble Jaunbūve, which includes the Orthodox cathedral and the Catholic and Lutheran churches, is located on the Church Hill, and about 80 architectural monuments from different years have survived on Rigas Street.
Mark Rothko Center
Mark Rothko Center
The building of the Daugavpils Fortress arsenal, restored at the beginning of this century, was given to art lovers in 2013. An Art Center was opened in the former military arsenal, which was named after Mark Rothko. A native of Daugavpils, Rothko was a prominent representative of abstract expressionism. It belongs to him the honor of creating the technique of painting the color field. Rothko emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1913. His paintings have repeatedly become the most expensive works of post-war world art, and the artist himself is called one of the most influential American painters of the second half of the twentieth century.
The Rothko Art Center is the only gallery in Eastern Europe, where the exposition of the famous compatriot's works is permanent. The museum's collection contains six paintings donated to the center by the descendants of the celebrity.
The museum also offers to get acquainted with the work of contemporary Latvian artists. Exhibitions of their works are held in the former military arsenal with enviable regularity.
The building itself and the square in front of it are noteworthy in the art center. During the restoration work, the restorers were able to preserve the original appearance of the building and its architectural elements.
The exposition of the Daugavpils Local History and Art Museum offers its guests a look at authentic objects telling about the history and culture of the region.
The opening of the museum took place for the first time in 1938, when a collection of finds discovered during archaeological research on the banks of the Dviete River and Lake Lubans was presented to all history lovers.
After the war, the exposition moved to st. Rigas, and national costumes, ceramics, paintings and other interesting objects and works of art were added to the collection. Today the museum has over 90 thousand items. On the excursion you can learn about the most important moments in the history of Daugavpils, starting from the 9th century. BC NS. to the present day.
The exhibition "The Nature of Our Land" is very popular among visitors, where medicinal plants and representatives of the insect world are offered to the guests' attention. Part of the exposition about nature tells about the species of plants and animals listed in the Red Book.
Outdoor activities are held in the museum courtyard - performances with the participation of schoolchildren, fairs and exhibitions of works by local artists.
Being the mayor, Pavel Fedorovich Dubrovin decided to set up a park in Daugavpils, where the townspeople could rest from everyday worries, walking with their families and enjoying nature. It happened back in 1882. Dubrovin bought three hectares of land with his own money and carried out the necessary reclamation work on them. During the life of the official and patron of the arts, the park was called Dubrovinsky Garden, and today it is considered one of the most popular attractions in Daugavpils.
During the years of Soviet power, as was customary, the park was given a new name, and it became the garden of the Komsomol. Fortunately, in the 90s. of the last century, the historical name has returned, and today in Dubrovinsky Park, like a century ago, people are happy to relax.
The garden has benches, fountains, new paths and a memorial in memory of those killed in World War II. Rare plants planted in the park by Pavel Fedorovich Dubrovin have survived all the hardships and have become the most significant exhibits of the natural museum.
Monument to Dubrovin
In 1967, a pond was concreted in Dubrovin Park and a fountain was built in its place, now equipped with color illumination. In 2007, next to the fountain, a monument to the patron was solemnly opened. It happened during the festive events on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the garden.
The sculpture of the mayor, who gave people a public park, is cast in bronze. The author of the monument is Alexander Tartynov, and the Moscow government was the sponsor of its production and installation.
Dubrovin is depicted as a bulldog walking with his dog. In his right hand he holds a leash in the form of a chain, in his left - a coat. Unfortunately, the chain was removed and stolen by vandals several times, and the city council had to install video surveillance of the monument.
The name of the natural park, which stretches between the cities of Kraslava and Daugavpils, is translated from Latvian as "Bends of the Daugava". Both tourists and locals come to the park to look at the bends of the river, scientifically called meanders, and to get acquainted with the unique nature of these places.
Latvians decided to preserve local beauty in 1990, when the park was announced. In order not to damage the forests and their inhabitants, the government even decided to stop the construction of the Daugavpils hydroelectric power station.
On the territory of Daugavas Loki there are two largest cliffs in the republic. The height of the largest is more than 40 m. It offers beautiful views of the river bends. Another observation deck is located on the tower in Vasargelish.
Among the sights of the park, visitors will be particularly attracted by the model of the Dinaburg castle, Markova and Vecrachinskoe fortified settlements, the Old Believer settlement of Slutishki - more than two dozen archaeological and ethnographic objects in total.
If you love local history and prefer to have an active rest even on vacation, go hiking along the Markovaya trail located in the vicinity of the village of the same name in the Daugavas Loki nature park.
The trail is laid in one of the most beautiful places in the Baltics. The lower reaches of the Putansky brook in the valley of the Upper Daugava are often visited by landscape photographers. During the walk, you will look at the picturesque banks of the river and panoramas opening from the cliffs to its bends.
The Markov trail was paved and landscaped by students and teachers of the local university. On the way, you will find resting places, signs, toilets and other necessary tourist infrastructure, The closed route formed by the path is not too long - just a little more than one and a half kilometers. It will take you about two hours to cover the distance, even with stops and photo shoots.
The list of objects worth paying attention to during the hike includes the Markovskoe hillfort, the Daugava gate, the low-lying boulder of the Putansky brook, the Slutishsky manor and the meander circle of the Daugava.
The Old Believer village of Slutishki in Daugavas Loki will be of interest to those tourists who study local history and the way of life of the Baltic peasants. She was first mentioned in written documents at the end of the 18th century.
In Slutishki, you can visit the house-museum of Old Believers and see the old cemetery, preserved from the 16th-17th centuries. A pottery workshop has been opened in the village, where earthenware is still being made. In the last decade of spring, the traditional international art festival "Augshdaugava" takes place in Slutishki, in which dance groups from the Baltic States take part.