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A visit to Daugavpils: a taste of shmakovka and other adventures


The second largest city of Latvia may now surely be named as one of the most popular tourist destinations.


One of the prerequisites for such growth is the historical heritage. During the tsarist Russia (from 1810 to 1878), an enormous fortress covering the area of approximately 2 square kilometres was built in this city on the coast of the River Daugava in order to repel Napoleon's invasion. Even though the bastion lost its importance as the time passed by, today it is the only sample of fortress in the whole Eastern Europe that was built in the first half of the 19th century and preserved without significant changes.

People who are interested in history have an opportunity to view not only the old structures of the fortress, but also to watch the reconstructed historical battles taking place. This summer, on July 15 and 16, the International Festival of Reconstruction Clubs "Dinaburg - 1812" will take place, and approximately 100 battle participants from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus and Russia will take part in it.

Within the recent years, several fortress buildings have been renovated, and one of them houses Mark Rothko Art Centre. Mark Rothko was born in Daugavpils, but has spent most of his life in the United States. He has created masterpieces that the art collectors acquire for record-high prices. Daugavpils is the only place in the Eastern Europe where the originals of his paintings may be viewed; and many travellers, not the art lovers alone, appreciate this opportunity.

Art Centre is spacious; and alongside the permanent exhibition of Mark Rothko's works, various interesting art exhibitions are organised in the historical premises. Namely, if you have a wish to be immersed in the world of art up to your ears, be sure to visit the Daugavpils fortress.

Once you have enjoyed the art, you should also visit Daugavpils Shot Factory. The first lead casting tower in the industrially developed city of the Eastern Latvia was built of wood in 1884. When it burned down in 1911, a 28 metres high brick tower was built instead of the wooden one. It is still in working order, even though other similar ammunition factories cannot be found anywhere for a long time already, as it seems.

Daugavpils may pride itself with a wealth of offers it can provide to tourists; and even more colourful it became last year when Shmakovka Museum was opened. That is no secret that homemade liquor shmakovka is a peculiar business card of the Latgale region; the drink had been made and used almost in every home. Museum offers a great opportunity to find out the secrets of how this historical liquor was made, as well as to learn about the destructive nature of booze. You can also have a chance to taste shmakovka.