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Tukums — the city of roses
Tukums has been named one of the most fascinating tourism destinations by the European Destinations of Excellence or EDEN 2017 competition.
Those with a good command of Latvian know that the word “Tukums” rhymes fantastically with the word “smukums” or “pretty”, that is, the more colloquial and sincere version of the literal word “beauty”.
Tukums does not shy away from “pretty”, for “pretty” becomes the small-town enshrouded in gardens, located just on the threshold of Kurzeme, and suits the traditions and the rhythm of daily life in the town.
Less than 70 km from Riga, just a comfy bus or train ride away, and here we are.
In Tukums, where according to the locals, the small-town peace meets the dynamic rhythm of modern life.
Where shall we begin? Most likely, with the main square at the heart of the town — the Square of Freedom — where a marketplace stood for 600 years. Farmers from near and far gathered here for the market, and so did fishermen from the coast side villages, and local craftsmen. There was no market here during the Soviet times, but instead... A monument of Lenin was erected. As of now, the Square of Freedom is adorned by ornate flowerbeds and a fountain.
But luxurious flowerbeds can also be seen elsewhere, one might even say — all across the town. Roses are especially abundant. Tukums is referred to as the city of roses for a reason — the Rose festival has been held here for two years now, and the local cafeterias and bars offer the city’s speciality drink — the Rose cocktail.
During springtime, while roses and the other flowers of summer are still budding, the town is frenzied by the timeless blooming fruit trees and flourishing decorative plants. Tukums Art Museum —the first provincial art museum in Latvia, established 80 years ago, holds proof of this. A collection of exquisite artworks made by Latvian artists in the first half of the 20th century is displayed here, including brilliant landscapes of Tukums being engulfed in a sea of blossoming gardens.
The original planning of Tukums old town dates back to the period of 14th to 18th century, but the visual image of the historical centre distinctive of the town today, was created in the 19th and 20th century only. Many ancient log farmhouses and residential buildings still in their original form, often decorated with luxurious doors made by local carpenters and blacksmiths, can be seen in the city centre.
The castle tower is a fragment from the towns’ oldest building — the Livonian castle built in the 13th century. In the 18th century, the castle tower was used alternatively as a prison and as a granary. Now, the Tukums town history museum is situated here, narrating the town’s history from ancient times to present day.
One of the oldest buildings is the St. Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tukums, dating back to 1644. A 24-meter-tall observation tower is built here, overlooking the town.
Many masters of various crafts and trades live in Tukums and the surrounding territory, who are happy to show and teach their skills to their guests. Here you can visit a blacksmith, a potter, a fellmonger and a weaver, amongst many others.
Just on the outskirts of the town lies Durbe castle — one of the most interesting castles built in the classicism style, which has obtained its current visual form in the 19th century. A landscape park with many architectural monuments has been created on the castle grounds.
The many nature trails in the area of Tukums are perfect for hiking in the summertime and they also provide excellent conditions for skiing on snow-rich winters.