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Get to know the Hanseatic League cities!
Traditions established in Latvia by the medieval German merchants still live and entertain in small towns of Limbaži, Kuldīga, Straupe, Valmiera, Koknese, and Cēsis.
The league of trade cities of the North Sea and the Baltic region began to take shape in the second half of the 13th century and soon turned into a market monopolist in Northern Europe, Eastern Baltic and even England.
Despite German cities on the Baltic Sea and the North Sea coast were the main ones in the Hanseatic League, cities of Latvia also played an important role. These cities maintain a lot of testimonies of the activities of German merchants even today, and the cultural and historical heritage has a really unique originality.
The former Hanseatic cities bring into the daylight also the recipes of old times, offering to enjoy long forgotten tastes.
For the first time, Kuldīga (Goldingen) was mentioned in the documents of the Hanseatic League in the middle of 14th century but the old charm is still maintained both in architecture and in everyday life. Every year, craftsmen and domestic producers from near and far come to Kuldīga to participate in the huge Duke Jacob's fair, which takes place already since the Hanseatic times.
Koknese is located at the Latvia's largest river Daugava, where Bishop Albert ordered to build a fortified castle in the beginning of 13th century. The settlement at the castle quickly gained city rights and became a member of the Hanseatic League. Nowadays, the landscape has changed considerably, and the waters of the broad Daugava River wash along the legendary castle walls. Koknese offers rides on a boat, and tourists may learn the old skills in craftsmen workshops. The memorial “Likteņdārzs” (the Garden of Destiny) is set up on the island in the Daugava River to vividly reflect the history of Latvia.
Cēsis (Wenden) was mentioned in chronicles in 1206 for the first time. As the city is located close to the Gauja River, it played an important role in the Hanseatic League. Today, Cēsis is a centre of culture and art, which has been recognized as one of the foremost cultural tourism destinations across Europe.
Limbaži was a Hanseatic League member; and the layout and the street planning of the city today is almost the same as in the 14th century. Now Limbaži is proud of the Silver museum, which is housed in the old town hall. The museum presents the largest silver art products collection in the Baltic countries and offers the opportunity to visit the silversmiths' workshop and taste the special silver water.
In the middle ages, Valmiera was famous for the best wax in Nordic countries, honey, exquisite fur products and hemp ropes. In the Hanseatic League, Valmiera on Gauja was a centre of an important political and economic life.
Nowadays, an extensive fair is held every year in October in Valmiera, where hundreds of craftsmen come together. Valmiermuiza brewery is a special place to visit as you can get acquainted both with the Latvian beer making and to taste and purchase it there.
Also Straupe (Roop), being located at an important highway, used to be an integral member of the Hanseatic League. Nowadays, it is an attractive village with beautiful surroundings and rich cultural heritage. For several years Straupe appeals with countryside delicacies market, and people travel hundreds of kilometres to buy there some fresh, healthy and tasty food.