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The winner of EDEN — Cēsis, where the past meets the future


The most prominent destinations of Europe's cultural tourism in Latvia have been named — Cēsis, Turaida Museum Reserve, Daugavpils, Limbaži and Tukums.

The competition in the European Destinations of Excellence or EDEN project was extremely tough this year, since a record number of participants — 20 — had submitted their applications for the national selection.

The beautiful city Cēsis in Vidzeme region, distinguished both by its valuable heritage and its enthusiastic support of contemporary culture, was awarded the first prize in the competition co-funded by the European Commission “Cultural tourism 2017”. Cēsis defines itself in the application: Cēsis, where the past meets the future.

The competitors may say that Cēsis has been endowed with all the qualities necessary to become a highlight destination of cultural tourism both by nature and history. It is undoubtedly true.

Cēsis is situated in the territory of the largest and the oldest park in Latvia — Gauja National Park, overlooking the picturesque valley of the river Gauja. The city’s rich history is a rare gem. The greatest Livonian castle stood here in the medieval times, surviving through glory and great tragedy. A spacious garden has been planted in the courtyard of the castle, where many ancient and still relevant medicinal plants and herbs flourish, medieval knights' tournaments are held here at times of festivities, and everybody is challenged to try their hand in the combat and agility of the ancient knights. Tourists can explore the ruins of the ancient castle and visit its cellars, try on the role of a medieval knight and even enjoy a medieval feast.

The Cēsis New Castle — an architectural monument of state significance — featuring both luxurious interiors and a magnificent exposition of history and art, was built in the 18th and 19th century. One of the most interesting expositions is “Cēsis — a symbol of Latvian history”, which shows the role of this small city in the context of national history.

Cēsis is considered to be one of the most popular tourist sites both by local and foreign tourists. The paved roadways of the Old town have maintained the original medieval planning, and the olden streets are characterised by the tiled red rooftops and closed courtyards. A romantic aura is conjured by the verdant parks and the efforts of the locals to renew the glory of the city.

In this seemingly quiet environment the Cēsis Art Festival first took place 10 years ago. Ever since, this unique event has enjoyed a consistently high popularity amongst the art lovers. The Cēsis Art festival is notable for its originality and boldness, as it dares to bring together different types and genres of art from brilliant fine arts and classical music to theatre, performance art, art campaigns and cinema amongst others. The courage has not diminished over time, and the standards of quality remain unchanged.

A most significant touchstone in a cultural tourism visit at Cēsis is a trip to the restored and reconstructed "Cēsis Concert Hall".   The concert hall — a multi-functional cultural centre — welcomes aesthetes of all profiles regardless of the season. Exhibitions, concerts and theatre plays held in high esteem all take place at the venue. 

Cēsis is located 90 km from Riga. The public transit — a train or a bus — provide convenient methods of getting to the city.

Turaida Museum Reserve, Daugavpils, Limbaži and Tukums were also successful in the national selection stage of the EDEN competition.