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The Maritime Open-Air Museum in Ventspils
The Maritime Open-Air Museum gives an insight into the daily life of the inhabitants of Kurzeme seashore. Visitors can familiarise themselves with the development of the fishery, examine collections of various boats and anchors, fishermen’s buildings, and other objects.
One of the most notable exhibits is the narrow-gauge railway, the so-called Mazbānītis (the Little Puffer), which after World War II ensured regular connections between the fishermen’s villages in northern Kurzeme.
The territory, covering an area of four hectares, offers an insight into fishery traditions in Kurzeme and into the evolution of fishing boats from the 18th century, Venta and Liv fishermen’s farmsteads, windmill (Užava parish), smoking huts, net sheds, and other monuments of folk architecture.
On weekends a smith and a weaver demonstrate their skills at the museum
600 exhibits are on display. The largest among them is the windmill, the smallest is the needle for sewing a bobber to the net. The museum’s open-air display contains various boats – the main tools of one of the fisherman, as well as an old fisherman’s farmstead, a smoking hut, a threshing barn, a barn, a windmill and a smithy.
The narrow gauge railway travels along 600 mm wide rails, this is the smallest rail width found in Latvia. The locomotive engine was built in 1916 in Germany. The locomotive came to Latvia during World War I and served the Kurzeme line: Ventspils – Dundaga – Stende. It used to be a very comfortable means of transportation for the locals.