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If you enjoy the aura and charm of a medieval town, and the opportunity to participate in cultural events that you will not find anywhere else, Kuldīga is the perfect place in which to spend a romantic holiday. Kuldīga has always fascinated and attracted people, like a beautiful woman capturing one’s full attention. Painters compare it to a wonderful picture which you would love to be able to own.
Kuldīga is located on the banks of the River Venta, 155km from Riga, and the historical centre of its Old Town in the ancient valley of the Venta is included in the UNESCO national list. Nature has created the district of Kuldīga not only as one of the country’s most scenic areas, but also as one of the warmest regions in Latvia. Tourists love the Riežupe Nature Park, with its mysterious Duke Jacob sand caves and the picturesque valley of the River Riežupe.
The town’s history
More than a thousand years ago, Kuldīga was the largest trading and cultural centre in ancient Cours, one that was visited by the Scandinavian Vikings. From 1368, the town of Kuldīga was added to the Hanseatic League. It was also the capital of the duchy of Courland, with Duke Jacob, the most famous historical personality in Courland, being born there. During his time as the region’s most senior figure, more than 150 ships were built there, and these sailed to Courland’s in Tobago, Gambia, etc.
For the town’s transit passengers and visitors
In 2007, the town of Kuldīga in the ancient valley of the River Venta won the international title, Most Excellent Tourist Destination 2007. When passing through Kuldīga, the tourist attractions one really must see are these:
- The Venta Rapid – The widest rapid in Europe (totalling 249m), a natural rapid around which quite a few legends and historical events have evolved. Due to the fishing invention that was developed by Duke Jacob, Kuldīga in ancient times was known as the place in which people caught their salmon in the air.
- The old brick bridge across the Venta – was built in 1874. It is one of the longest brick bridges in Europe. The bridge was built according to the traffic standards applicable in the times of the czars, ie. 500 feet long and 26 feet wide. The bridge was often used as a filming location for productions such as, for example, Emīla nedarbi (Emil’s Mischief), Tilts (The Bridge), and many others.
- Kuldiga’s medieval historical centre – lies around the River Alekšupīte. It is unique and rare, and is the only remaining ensemble of seventeenth and eighteenth century town buildings in the Baltics that encompasses a river, which is why Kuldīga is known as the Venice of Latvia.
- Alekšupīte Waterfall – the highest waterfall in Latvia at 4.5m. In the seventeenth century, it was reinforced and built up so that it could make use of the stream to power the first paper mill in Kurzeme.
- The town garden and Kuldīga District Museum – located in the grounds of the first stone castle, which was built here in 1242 by Kuldīga’s German crusaders, and some wall fragments and the castle cellar vault have been preserved. Duke Jacob’s castle was built over the earlier castle and this itself was ruined in 1701. The site now serves to display sculptures by Līvija Rezevska.
- The Riežupe Sand Caves – form the longest underground cave labyrinth in Latvia, and can be explored to a depth of two kilometres. During the time of Duke Jacob, the sand from the Riežupe sand caves was shipped abroad by vessels that navigated their way along the Venta for the purpose of glass production.
Kuldiga district is the perfect place for hiking, cycling, horse riding, fishing, or taking a boat trip. Kuldīga is rightly known as the Latvian town of cycling. In late May, the largest Latvian annual non-commercial cycling festival, Cycling Day and Cycling Night in Kuldiga, is held there. Hiking enthusiasts have an unprecedented opportunity to experience, see and enjoy the smell of the old narrow gauge train, while heading off on for the adventure hike, Lasās malā Bānis nāk! (Make way for the train!), which travels between Kuldīga and Alsunga.
Cultural enthusiasts will enjoy an unprecedented offering of original events, starting with the spring flood show, ‘Fish Fly in Kuldīga’, which takes place in April and is followed by the Midsummer Naked Run across the Venta Bridge. The River Alekšupīte Carnival and the run during the town’s festival, ‘Feast in Kuldiga’, are equally romantic. In August, there is the music festival, ‘Live Fest‘, which brings together world famous artists. The historical aura of Duke Jacob’s Fair in October will add to your wonderful experience, and the end of the year in Kuldīga is celebrated by the Winter Festival, ‘Believe in the Miracle’, which takes places in December.
For those who use public transport, there are bus connections from the capital, Riga. For anyone travelling by car, you are recommended to start off on route A9 or A10, and then turn towards Kuldīga, taking P108 or P120.
In Kuldīga you will find the ancient breath of Latvia and the charm of a small town that cannot be experienced in any other of Latvia’s towns or cities.