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Daugavpils — the city of art and a great fortress

22.11.2017

Daugavpils has been named one of the most fascinating tourism destinations at the European Destinations of Excellence or EDEN 2017 competition.

Just a couple of years ago there where whispers of concern whether the planned restoration of Daugavpils fortress will not entail expenditure too great to be returned by tourists and visitors. But such concern has been removed now. Over a short period of time, Daugavpils, the second largest city in Latvia, has transformed into a most significant tourism destination on the map of Latvia.

There are at least 2 main sightseeing locations.

First of all, here stands the impressive Daugavpils fortress, built ages ago in the times of Tsarist Russia, in preparation for its defence against the invasion of Napoleon’s troops. This glorious fortification structure with a total area of 150 hectares is the only remnant unchanged example of a fortress built in the first half of 19th century in Eastern Europe. A part of the fortress still awaits renovation, but much has already been done here, and the new premises have been turned into an exciting place for fans of history, military heritage and even... bats.

Secondly, the name Daugavpils has already become inseparable from the name of the legendary world-famous abstract artist Mark Rothko. Introducing the life story and the artworks of the painter, the Mark Rothko Art Centre has been established on the renovated premises of the Artillery Arsenal Building of the Daugavpils Fortress.

It both is and is not a coincidence that, figuratively speaking, Mark Rothko is back in Daugavpils. It is not a coincidence, for Mark Rothkovich was born in this city and spent his childhood days here, before moving to USA. And in a way, it also is a coincidence, because it is only due to the friendly relationships established between the employees of Daugavpils museum and the artist’s children residing in USA that the ambitious intention was successfully carried out. And Daugavpils remains the only place in Eastern Europe where the original Rothko paintings are regularly exhibited in public.

The spacious premises of the Mark Rothko Art Centre frequently host the exhibitions of other artists from near and far, making Daugavpils a unique creative centre, which the city hardly ever dreamed to be.

Daugavpils is located about 220km from Riga. The tourists who choose to brave this rather considerable distance should keep in mind that there are many other noteworthy objects in the city, for example, the Daugavpils Shot Factory, which is the only ammunition production factory open for tourists in the Baltic States, and where the oldest shot casting tower in Europe is located.

And the newest tourist attraction in the city is the Shmakovka Museum. Here you can explore the brewing of shmakovka — the strongest type of vodka traditional to Latgale, Eastern Latvia. Those willing can also taste this fiery brew.