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Regions of Latvia
Latvia is divided into 4 regions: Vidzeme (home to the capital Riga), Kurzeme, Zemgale, and Latgale. 3 of them – Kurzeme, Zemgale, and Vidzeme – are on the Baltic Sea while Latgale takes pride in a number of lakes.
Kurzeme has always been associated with the sound of the Baltic Sea and steep banks, wild seaside and rich towns. The seaside used to be inhabited by the Livonians and fishing villages still have an air of history. The biggest towns in Kurzeme are Liepaja or “the city of wind”, family-friendly Ventspils, Saldus with its Wine Hill, Kuldiga with the widest waterfall in Europe, and hilly Talsi.
Vidzeme is the hilliest part of Latvia and it prides itself in the greatest number of ancient Latvian hillforts, medieval castles, and posh manors. In the wintertime ski slopes are full of skiers, in the spring people go boating down rivers, in the summer towns throw town festivals and in October crowds of people visit the Ancient Valley of the River Gauja for views of autumn leaves. Romance is there all year round at the changing Vidzeme seaside landscape – Randu Meadows and high dunes.
Each town in the region has its own special mood. Valmiera is a student town with lovely walking paths on the banks of the River Gauja, Cesis charm with its medieval old town and castle and Sigulda is known as a great destination for active recreation – guests of the town are even welcome to fly in a wind tunnel!
Zemgale’s soil has always been particularly fertile and the region has long been referred to as Latvia's granary. Its vast fields are home to some of the most breathtaking castles in Latvia – Rundale Castle with its gardens designed by Italian Rastrelli, pearl of the baroque style Jelgava Castle, Bauska Castle of the Livonian Order, and Classicist style Mezotne Castle.
The region’s flat terrain region makes it especially bicycle-friendly with stopovers at sights for all age groups – Tervete Nature Park for kids, one of the country farms, Bauska Motor Museum etc.
Latgale is also known as the land of blue lakes as the majority of Latvia's lakes are concentrated there. Historically believers of different religions have lived there side by side, therefore, the region prides itself in impressive sacred buildings including the pilgrim destination – Aglona Basilica.
The region still practices ancient traditions – black pottery typical of Latgale is made there, people relax in the black or smoke sauna and cook mouth-watering „gulbesnieki” or stuffed potato rolls. At the same time, Latgale is keeping up with the times – the renovated Daugavpils Fortress is home to the world class Mark Rothko Art Centre, Rezekne has opened an excellent concert hall and Livani welcomes visitors with an interactive glass museum.