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Southern Latvia (Zemgale)

The largest part of Zemgale is flat, which makes it different from the other regions that have both uplands and deep river valleys. Zemgale boasts one of the most fertile grain fields in Northern Europe, something that has ensured the prosperity of the region for many successive centuries.

The largest part of Zemgale is flat, which makes it different from the other regions that have both uplands and deep river valleys. Zemgale boasts one of the most fertile grain fields in Northern Europe, something that has ensured the prosperity of the region for many successive centuries.

Zemgale’s castles and manor houses offer an opportunity to see the remaining evidence of luxury and prosperity of older times. And it is Zemgale in which is located one particularly significant baroque architecture monument - Rundāle Palace.

Nature

Zemgale’s landscapes are characterised by extended cultivated fields, since Zemgale’s soil has always been particularly fertile. You will see grain and rape fields, operating windmills and modern wind generators on the plains of Zemgale.

Part of Ķemeri National Park, which is known for its healing mud, sulphur waters and mineral waters, is located in the northern area of Zemgale.

Several of Latvia’s rivers cross Zemgale - the Daugava, Lielupe, Mūsa and Mēmele. The Mēmele is one of those rivers that is actively used for boat trips that offer an opportunity to see the interesting river bank strips in the area of Skaistkalne.

Castles in Zemgale

Zemgale’s castle mounds, manor houses, castles, parks and secular trees evidence the rich cultural history of the region, as well as making this region an attractive destination for anyone who is interested in architecture and art.

The most splendid eighteenth century Baroque and Rococo architectural monument in Latvia is Rundāle Palace, which was designed by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli and which is enclosed by a park which contains both French and rose gardens. Zemgale houses another masterpiece by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli -Jelgava Palace, the residence of the former dukes of Kurzeme and Zemgale. It is the largest rococo style palace in the Baltics and houses the castle museum.

Other important places of interest in Zemgale include Bauska and Mežotne castles, Classical fifteenth to eighteenth century architectural monuments, as well as the ancient Krustpils Castle. What’s more, when you visit Zemgale, be sure not to miss the neo-Gothic Augstkalne and Vecauce castles, Duchess Dorothy’s favourite -  Vircava Manor House - and also Blankenfelde Manor House in which even the French King Louis XVIII has resided.

Some architectural evidence from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries has also been preserved such as, for example, Koknese Castle ruins that are partly sunken in the River Daugava, and the ruins of Dobele Castle which was built by the Livonian Order.

Cities and towns

The old centre of Jelgava is the oldest part of the city to have survived the Second World War. This is the right place in which to feel the city’s atmosphere and to stroll along its streets. If you pay a visit to Jelgava, make sure you don’t miss the tower of Jelgava Holy Trinity Church.

Not far from the border with Lithuania, between the Mēmele and Mūsa rivers, the charming town of Bauska is located. Its oldest building is Bauska Holy Spirit Church.

Tourism Sights

It is really worthwhile paying a visit to Tērvete Nature Park which has more than a hundred wooden sculptures featuring heroes and heroines of the well-known fairy tale plays of Latvian writer, Anna Brigadere, which are an especial point of interest for children.

Near to Dobele is Pokaiņi Forest with its stories about the magical powers of boulders that are located in the forest, as well as the Tīreļpurvs and Ložmetējkalns, one of the best preserved First World War  battlefields in Europe, in which you can see memorial spots for the Christmas Battles.

Gastronomy

Zemgale’s women are known to be very hardworking and hospitable and have never lacked the skills to be able to provide a filling meal for their household and a good welcoming meal for their guests. Zemgale’s local foods are Karaša, or barley grout, and sour milk porridge, along with fish.

A trip to Zemgale will allow you to flip through the pages of history and to observe modern life alongside its historical antecedents.

Bauskas Sv.Gara baznīca
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The Church of the Holy Spirit in Bauska

The Church of the Holy Spirit in Bauska was built during the period 1591 – 1594 and it contains some unique art objects dating from the...
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Bauska Old Town

Bauska Old Town has retained its original regular planning, including the Church of the Holy Spirit (16th century) and the Town Hall (...
Ausekļu dzirnavas
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Open Air Museum Ausekļi Mill

The Ausekļi Mill Museum gives an opportunity to watch, and to try out one skill in diverse farm-work.
Bruknas muiža
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Brukna Manor

The manor castle at Brukna was built during the 3rd quarter of the 18th century, and underwent reconstruction in the 2nd quarter of the...

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Last updated: 
08.12.2014