Gradually, Daugavpils fortress rises from the ashes, but not for military purposes anymore. Mark Rothko’ Centre containing the originals of his works and displaying the artist’s residence will be established in the Arsenal building.
Today, restoration takes place in the fortress. The name of the Daugavpils is associated not only with gloomy events of wartime, but also with world-famous artist impressionist Mark Rothko (1903-1970) who was born here. In the "Sotheby's” auction in New York in 2007, his painting “White Center: Yellow, Pink, Lavender on Rose” was sold for 72.8 million dollars. This is a record for Latvian-origin artists and it is the 24th most expensive artwork sold in the world.
The idea to build Daugavpils or Dinaburg fortress was born at the beginning of the 19th century, when the French Emperor Napoleon was hell-bent on the plans about the world conquest. He threatened to attack also Russia. In 1810, the Russian War Minister Mikhail Barclay de Tolly proposed to build a fortress in Dinaburg in his report to Tsar Alexander I entitled "Protection of Western territory of Russia". By the way, Barclay de Tolly has a monument in Riga; it is located in the centre of the city next to the Orthodox cathedral.
In1810 Tsar Alexander I approved the master plan of the construction containing a garrison planned for 4500 men. It was planned to install 595 cannons in it. The works proceeded with interruptions, because the city of Daugavpils experienced French invasion in 1812, Napoleon’s army occupied Daugavpils. It was not easy, because the defenders of Dinaburg resisted like heroes. Already at the end of 1812, Napoleon’s army was driven away.
The building of the fortress continued again, but the formal opening and confirmation ceremony was held only on the 21st day of May, 1833. Tsar Nicholas I together with the Russian higher clergy went on the Cross procession through the main rampart after the intercession at the fortress cathedral. Yet, the works on the exterior fortifications was continued even after. The seven kilometres long, 4.2 to 6.4 meters high dam construction was completed only in 1841. It protects the city from flooding to this day.
"Public enemies" had been imprisoned in Dinaburg fortress during the imperial period. For example, a friend of Pushkin, poet V. Kihelbekers (1797-1846) was imprisoned here almost for four years after the insurgency of the Decembrists in 1825. After Latvia gained its independence, Zemgale division of the new National Army lived in the Fortress, but the Red Army occupied it in 1940 after the Soviet intrusion.
Lot of tragic events took place here during the World War II. After the Germans occupied Daugavpils, the Nazis killed several thousands of Russian prisoners of war. They were imprisoned in the concentration camp built up in the territory of fortress called “Schtalag – 340”. A poster with a figure of a stick and the words "This is your master!" was hung over the gates of the Léger. Also Jewish ghettos were built in the territory of the fortress, thousands of Jews living in Daugavpils and the surrounding areas died there...