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Our values and uniqueness
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Latvia is indeed unique. Latvia’s main asset is its nature and cultural diversity and, of course, people. Latvia’s geography is unusual – Latvia is like a psychological bridge between the West and the East. Latvia can be proud of its 500 km long sandy seashore, half of Latvia’s territory is covered with unspoilt, natural forests, and Latvia has a climate with four clearly pronounced seasons.
The people of Latvia respect family values, treat nature with reverence, are rather reserved, but are tolerant towards the culture of other nations. Because Latvians’ own culture is special – over the course of centuries Latvian culture has mixed with others, but has been able to retain features that are typical only of Latvians.
Rich cultural historic heritage
Latviahas rich cultural historic heritage, an ancient language (the Latvian language and the Lithuanian language are the only Baltic languages preserved to the present).
Numerous Latvian “runes”- dainas (folksongs) are a unique treasure, nothing similar to them is found anywhere in the world and they are included in the UNESCO List of Global Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage. The historical centre of Riga, for example, is also on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage. The Lielvārde belt is especially unique – it is an element of folk costume which, researchers say, contains information about the Universe and the origins of Latvians.
Ancient sacred sites and secrets
Likewise, researchers maintain that Latvians’ ancestors had been special people, able to communicate with gods, had been seers and sorcerers. Latvia has a Stonehenge of its own - Pokaiņu forest, an ancient site with unusual stacks of rocks and energy, it is even said that the radiation of energy coming from Pokaiņi is visible from the outer space!
Zilais kalns - the Blue Mountain - is a similar space, a mountain top shrouded in legends in the north-eastern part of Vidzeme, not far from Valmiera. This mountain, shrouded in blue mist as it were, is situated in the middle of a marshy plain. It is an ancient site of worship, once the location of a sacred grove and a shrine, and at the beginning of the 1970s Marta of the Blue Mountain lived at the foot of the hill - she was an outstanding healer and prophetess, legends about the miracles performed by her are still told.
Another legend, in turn, says that the treasures of the ancient Templars and the mystical Holy Grail are hidden in Latvia. Historians have advanced a hypothesis that the treasures of the Order of Templars could be found both near Talsi and at Alūksne Tempļa (the Temple) mountain; during World War II the latter version was verified by the Nazis. There are also contemporary legends. For example, the unusual, but officially confirmed story about the miracle of Salaspils – in the autumn of 2009 at Salaspils Orthodox Church the image of Our Lady, which was not man-made, was reflected on the glass which had covered the icon of the Most-Holy Mother of God “Joy to All Who Sorrow”!
Churches and traditions
Traditions are respected in Latvia, and even though Latvians are a Christian nation and Latvia stands out with its magnificent churches (the Dome Cathedral in Riga, Basilica of Aglona in Aglona, and Šķaune Church in Latgale), pagan traditions are still vividly preserved in Latvia. Dainas are still recited, the ancient solstice festivals, especially Jānis Day (St. John’s day), are still celebrated, on Jānis Day, the shortest night of the year, people sit around bonfires and wait for the dawn, bathe naked in the morning dew, and go searching for the legendary flower of the fern (which has more associations with the pleasures of love). Latvians are still fine singers – folk songs are a special form of Latvian mediation, the Song and Dance Celebrations are still very popular, they gather thousands of singers and dancers from all regions of Latvia for group singing and dancing.
The modern environment
These are only the values tested by centuries and indestructible traditions; however, Latvia is also unique because of the contemporary and the modern. The link with their pagan heritage does not prevent Latvians form being modern European citizens. We can be proud of our cultural, economic and technological achievements. For example, Latvians were the ones who surprised the whole world both at the world’s fair "EXPO 2010" and the closing ceremony of the Turin Olympic Games with the unusual flight in a wind tunnel– the "Aerodium" crew are the only ones in the world capable of creating such miracles, furthermore, now anyone can enjoy the possibility to fly like a bird here in Latvia – in the vertical wind tunnel "Aerodium" in Sigulda.