Daugavpils Fortress is a unique cultural and historical architectural monument of national importance. Daugavpils Fortress is also considered as the last bastion-type fortress in the world that has been preserved without any significant alterations since the early 19th century.
Culture and history
Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre is a multifunctional complex of contemporary art, culture and education situated in the Arsenal building at Daugavpils Fortress. It is the only place in Eastern Europe where the original masterpieces of the famous painter and the founder of the abstract expressionism Mark Rothko can be seen.
Every traveller who wants to be acquainted with Daugavpils should definitely visit the Church Hill that has gathered the churches of four different confessions – Martin Luther Cathedral, Roman Catholic Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, SS Boris and Gleb Russian Orthodox Cathedral and Church of the Community of Old Believers.
St.Boris and Gleb Orthodox Cathedral was built in 1904-1905 and was consecrated on 12 June 1905. t.Boris and Gleb Cathedral in the sense of the use of numerous decorative elements is recognized as the most gorgeous orthodox cathedral of this region. Its building is justly considered as one of the most spacious, richly decorated and arranged orthodox cathedrals not only in Latgale, but also in whole Latvia.
There is a new permanent exposition devoted to the history of medicine in Daugavpils Fortress next to the “White Horse” Art Gallery. Three halls present a great number of objects, photos and documents that tell us how people were treated in centuries past and gives a brief overview of Daugavpils medical institutions’ history. One of the halls is fully devoted to contraception.
The historical centre of Daugavpils city is an architectural heritage of national importance (the construction work was carried out in the 19th century according to the project endorsed in St Petersburg in 1826). The historical centre is the greatest attraction of the city and one of the most successful examples of balancing the aspects of ancient and modern times.
Jewish of Daugavpils and Latgale Museum is located on the 2nd floor of the Daugavpils synagogue. The museum exposition tells about Jewish life and living traditions in Latgale and Daugavpils since 1935. The exposition represents the change in the number of Jews, sibling’s stories in photos, household and religious items as well as a variety of publications: magazines, calendars and books about Jews life in Daugavpils and Latgale.
Daugavpils Fortress is a place where the second largest in the Baltic States hibernating bat colony inhabits. The fortress walls with a high humidity, as well as a special microclimate in the fortifications create favorable conditions for dwelling. Exposition of the Daugavpils Bat Centre is located in the lateral room of the Niсholas Gate in Daugavpils Fortress.
On the right bank of the Daugava River, in the vicinity of Gayok district the Bruģu Street promenade has been built. It is aimed at giving the streets a new, functional look and meaning. After completion of the Bruģu Street promenade, Daugavpils city acquired a new, facilitated area for strolling and enjoying the splendour of nature.
It is possible to learn about the Latvian folk traditions by working practically, participating in workshops and classes in the House of Traditions. Traditional Latvian festivities are celebrated here, folk craft workshops, exhibitions, training sessions on playing folk musical instruments, seminars on traditional Latvian festivals, games and dances, as well as dance evenings, conversations and discussions on preservation of intangible cultural heritage are held here.
Concert hall of Daugavpils Palace of Culture is one of the biggest concert halls in Latvia with capacity to host events for 1070 persons. The Concert Hall has been awarded with compliance certificate from Association of European Mass Event centres in Baltic States, which proves that the concert hall is able to host the highest quality events.
In 1582, King of Poland Stephen Bathory gave the Magdeburg law for Daugavpils (Dinaburg). Thus, it opened wider opportunities for the development of the city. The clock, gear wheel and clock hands, which are depicted on the monument, represent the history of Daugavpils (Dinaburg) before and after granting the Magdeburg law and historical titles of the city. The bas-relief of Stephen Batory, his sign facsimile and short explanation is also illustrated on the monument.
The poet A. Pumpurs (1841-1902) created epos “Lacplesis” (1888) about the legendary national hero Lacplesis (13th century), the fighter against foreign conquerors that is based on folk tales. The street and the square in the center of Daugavpils, where the bust of the poet is located, have the name of the poet.
The exhibition takes place in the lobby on the 2nd floor of Daugavpils University (DU) building, Vienibas iela 13. The album itself is a property of Vatican Library, it was presented to the Pope Leo XIII in 1888 by the inhabitants of the Baltic region as a gift on the 50th anniversary of the Pope’s ordination.
“Bunker” gallery is located in the basement of an apartment building in the authentic Soviet-era bunker with the heavy original metal door. There are more than 300 exhibits that belongs to different periods of history: the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, World War I and World War II, Latvia’s first independence period and Soviet time.
The church in the urban landscape is distinguished by its pointed tower made in the Gothic style and by light finishing of the facade. In addition, this project combines classical and modern, as the temple of God is located near the cultural and historic wooden building which is typical for Daugavpils.
Grīva Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Mary was built in 1881 – 1889 and altered in 1935 – 1942. Next to, it a bell tower was built in 1990 (arhitect: Kazimirs Lielausis). Grīva Church is a brick building with Romanesque and Gothic elements in the facade decoration. The most important interior features are the 3 stained glass windows with figural scenes, made at the St. Lucas Workshop in Warshaw in 1889. The pipe organ made at the Krustpils workshop of Friedrich Weissenborn in 1890.
The church was consecrated in 1897. The church is a one-story wooden log building that is not covered with boards. The pointed towers with four-sided roof are located above the side entrances on the roofs. The part of the altar roof is decorated with a tower, which hexagonal volume supports the cupola with a cross in the form of an onion.
Old-believer’s Prayer House of The Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God and Nicholas the Wonderwoker in Gajok. Old-believer’s Prayer House in Gajok was consecrated on March 30 in 1886. The church was one of the most beautiful religious buildings in Daugavpils. The hand of a professional is clearly seen in the architectural shapes of the church.
Old-believer’s Prayer House in Niderkuni was built in 1907, but in 1908 – 1911 work on the interior design was carried out. The parishioners presented icons and books to the new church. The icons painted by Konstantin Pavlov, Vasilij Kirillin, Barbara Kirillina and Leontij Seleznev have remained in the iconostasis till nowadays.
The museum exhibition is placed in Daugavpils, in Unity House, in the rooms of fitness center. The aim of the museum is to introduce the athletics history to the audience, famous Latvian athletes and their achievements, athletics and bodybuilding competition prizes and to collect materials about the past and present achievements of athletes and systematize the exhibits.
The enthusiasts of Daugavpils Chess and Checkers Museum have studied and compiled information about the history of chess in Daugavpils and Latgale Region from the 19th century up to the present day. All these information is available in Daugavpils Chess and Checkers Museum that is the first museum of its kind in Latvia.
The open-air art work “GHOST OF THE FORTRESS” was created in 2017 during the Second International Sculpture Symposium. The main inspiration for the work came from the Daugavpils fortress. For Daugavpils fortress it is ghost of a war horse, because as a war horse, fortifying structures like the one in Daugavpils was once a crucial military instrument that became obsolete as the progress rolled on.
The open-air art work “ROTHKO” was created in 2015 during the First International Sculpture Symposium „R”. The art work ROTHKO is an identity mark of the artist in environment demonstrating belonging of the artist to Daugavpils city. In inscription there is a name of world known Latvian and American artist who was born in Daugavpils – Mark Rothko.
The Memorial to commemorate the victims of genocide against Jews and prisoners of the Daugavpils ghetto was opened on 10 November 1991, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust (author of the memorial – sculptor Oleg Marinoha). The memorial consists of a granite stele with the Star of David cut into it and an inscription on Yiddish “To the Memory of the Children of Israel”, with 16 stone steles placed on both sides of it, symbolically reminding of the memory of the Holocaust victims from various European states.
On 6 September 2015 in the place of former Daugavpils ghetto, next to Daugavgrīva Prison the Jewish community of Daugavpils unveiled a monument with an inscription in English, Latvian, Russian and Hebrew: “In memory of ghetto prisoners. From July 15, 1941 to May 1, 1942 Daugavpils Jewish ghetto was located here.”
From July 1941 to the end of 1943 in the Mežciems (historical name – Poguļanka) Forest Jews, taken from Daugavpils ghetto at various times, were shot here. The exact number of victims is unknown. In 1960 a memorial (sculptor Harijs Sprincis, architect Zigurds Ābelīte) to the victims of Nazism was unveiled in the Mežciems Forest; however, the most part of the monument was destroyed in the 1990s. On 9 July 1989 Jewish activists from Daugavpils reinterred the remains that had been found at the end of the 1980s in Mežciems in separate pits. In 2007 the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia placed on the site two black granite plaques with an inscription in Latvian, Russian, English and Hebrew: “The remains of prisoners of the Daugavpils ghetto are buried here”.
In total approximately 15 000 to 20 000 Jews were placed in the Daugavpils ghetto, of which less than 100 persons survived. On 8 – 9 November 1941, as the result of regular selection in the ghetto, 1134 Jews, children among them, were sent to Mežciems and shot. In 1967, on the site of mass murder, close to the Mežciems Station a memorial obelisk was erected. In 1974 a memorial stone was placed, its inscription in Russian sates: “In this place on 8–9.11 1941 German fascists shot 2000 civilians – children and adults”.
The Nazi troops entered Daugavpils on 6 June 1941 and already on the first days of occupation launched the campaign to exterminate the Jews of Daugavpils. Until 7 July 1125 Jews were arrested and taken to the prison, they later were shot in the Railwaymen’s Garden. During the Soviet period a granite stele on a concrete base was erected here, it bears the inscription “Here the fighters, commanders of the Soviet Army, tortured to death by German–fascist invaders in 1941–1945 are buried. Eternal glory to those who perished.” In 2007 the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia placed a memorial sign – two black granite plaques with the Stars of David and an inscription in Latvian, Russian, English and Yiddish: “In July 1941, the Nazis executed here more than 1,000 of Daugavpils Jews”.
A part of Daugavpils ghetto prisoners, who were shot in the Mežciems Forest, have been reinterred in the Daugavpils Communal Cemetery, their remains were found in the 1950s. During the first post–war years the reinterment site was in the Old Jewish Cemetery, but in the 1970s, when the Cemetery was liquidated, the monument was moved to the Communal Cemetery. There is an inscription in Russian and Yiddish on the monument: “Here Jewish families rest, shot by Hitler’s executioners in 1941–1945”.
Graves of the soldiers of the 1st Legion Regiment of Polish army in Slobudka, near Satiksmes street were the biggest ones in Latvia of Polish soldiers, who fell in Latvian fight for freedom in 1919 -1920, a cemetery, where 500 soldiers were buried. On June 22 in 1928 Latvian President Gustav Zemgals opened a monument at this cemetery.
At the right side of Daugavpils Catholic cemetery, the graves of Polish army soldiers are marked with a marble plate and a cross. There is an inscription in Polish on a tomb plate: “Tomb of the unknown soldier”. On January 21 in 1920 Polish soldiers from Daugavpils Polish military hospital 101 (Warsaw Street) were buried there.
The memorial place of Leon Plater is set at Daugavpils Catholic cemetery. The black granite plate, which is decorated with the inscription: “To count Leon Broel Plater – the organizer of Polish uprising (killed on June 9 in 1863)” is erected there. Originally, the plate was erected on June 9 in 1923, but renewed in 2002.
Andrejs Shvirksts (1897 – 1955) was Local government officer (since 1928 till 1934 – the Chairman of the Daugavpils district, since 1934 till 1938 – the senior of the Daugavpils district, sine 1938 till 1940 – mayor of Daugavpils), Public figure (since 1938 till 1940 – Chairman of the Association of Latvians of Daugavpils).
St. Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Chapel was consecrated in 2004. Located in A. Pumpurs public garden (20 Saules Street) on the former site of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (1864–1961). The chapel is a memorial structure that has a symbolic meaning, serving as a reminder of the demolished cathedral.
It was built in 1894 and is located near graves. It is built of red bricks; the decorative masonry bands are made in the corners of the building, above the footings and under the roof cornices. A semi-circular-shaped sheet metal roof is constructed above the entrance door, where there is also a small round window with St. Nicholas painting in the center of it.
On November 14, 1924, in the garden of the Daugavpils Fortress, a monument of remembrance to 44 soldiers of the 10th Aizpute Infantry Regiment of Zemgale Division, who died in the Latvian War of Independence, was unveiled. During the Soviet period the monument was destroyed. On 2017 the monument has been restored to its original state. With an official opening ceremony the restored monument was unveiled on November 14, 2017.