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Kuldīga

Kuldīga is the pearl of Kurzeme, Latvia's western region. Kuldīga boasts distinctive architecture, the River Venta with the widest waterfall ledge in Europe, and an old brick bridge. Kuldīga was recognised an EDEN destination in 2007.

Kuldīga is an ancient town with unique architecture. Saint Catherine is believed to be the patron saint of Kuldīga, and thus the church of the town has been named after St Katrīna. The foundation of the building was laid as early as in 1252; later the church was remodelled a number of times, and the altar was decorated with Baroque style wood carvings. One of the most successful rulers of the Duchy of Courland, Duke Jacob was christened in this church, and his wedding to Princess Louise Charlotte of Brandenburg also took place here.

The Town Hall was built in the 17th century. The town square, since the very origins of the settlement, was a place where townspeople used to gather. The tradition has survived: the pulse of the town is best felt in the central square, a venue for weavers' exhibitions, traditional festivities and other events. It is in Kuldīga that one can see the oldest wooden building in Kurzeme put up in 1670 near the town square.

Through the very centre of the Kuldīga old town there runs the little River Alekšupīte.  A 4.5 m high waterfall on the stream is the highest in Latvia. In the 17th century the waterfall, technically a dam, powered the first paper mill in Kurzeme.  An annual race is held on the Alekšupīte, when the contestants run directly along the river bottom.

The Alekšupīte literally runs through the Old Town walls. The Old Town itself is unique: in its time it was build as a suburb to the Kuldīga Castle, and is the only remaining 17th-18th century ensemble of this kind in the Baltic states.

The pride of Kuldīga is the 240-metre-wide Venta waterfall (Ventas rumba), the widest in Europe. In springs, one can watch the fish flying up the ledge; due to this, Kuldīga was once famous as a "place where they catch salmon in the air".

Not far from the Ventas rumba there is the well-known Kuldīga brick bridge built in 1874, one of the longest bridges of this type in Europe. According to the road building standards of its time, the bridge has been builtwide enough for two carriages to pass each other. The ' race of the naked ' over the bridge has become an annual tradition for Midsummer nights.