Theme Week Latvia – Rēzekne

Thursday, 26 May 2022 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  9 minutes

Creative Centre Zeimuls © panoramio.com - Sirujs Enobs/cc-by-sa-3.0

Creative Centre Zeimuls © panoramio.com – Sirujs Enobs/cc-by-sa-3.0

Rēzekne is a city in the Rēzekne River valley in Latgale region of eastern Latvia. It is called The Heart of Latgale. Built on seven hills, Rēzekne is situated 242 kilometres (150 miles) east of Riga, and 63 kilometres (39 miles) west of the Latvian-Russian border, at the intersection of the Moscow – Ventspils and Warsaw – Saint Petersburg Railways. It has a population of 31,216 (2016) making it the 7th largest city in Latvia. Rēzekne was rebuilt after the war with an emphasis on industrial development. Rēzekne had the 5th highest industrial output in the Latvian SSR, including a dairy processor (Rēzeknes Piena konservu kombināts), a lumber mill, and an electric-instrument factory (Rebir). During this time, many Russians moved to the city, making up a large part of the population (48.5% in 2007).

A Latgalian hill fort is known to have existed at Rēzekne from the 9th to the 13th centuries, until its destruction at the hands of German crusaders of the Livonian Order. In 1285, the knights built a stone fortress on the site, which is today known as Rēzekne castle ruins, to serve as a border post on their eastern frontier. The name Rēzekne was first documented in 1285. Throughout its early history, Rēzekne was attacked many times by Russian and Lithuanian forces. The town became part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth after the Peace of Jam Zapolski in 1582 during the Livonian War. Rēzekne received Magdeburg rights from Poland in the 17th century, but fell to the Russian Empire during the Partitions of Poland. In 1773, Rēzekne received city rights. Known as “Rezhitsa” during Russian rule, it was an uyezd center first in Pskov Governorate between 1772 and 1776, then Polotsk between 1776 and 1796, Belarus between 1796 and 1802 and finally in Vitebsk Governorate between 1802 and 1917. During the 19th century, the construction of the Moscow-Ventspils and Saint Petersburg-Warsaw railways transformed Rēzekne from a sleepy country town into an important city with two stations. In the spring of 1917, the first Latgalian congress was held in Rēzekne, in which Latgale was declared to unite with the other Latvian regions. Following Latvia’s declaration of independence in 1918, the Latvian War of Independence and the driving out of both the German and Red armies from Latvia, the city became a cultural centre for all of Latgale.

Due to Rēzekne’s multi-ethnic character throughout the centuries, many religious communities have settled in the city. Ethnic differences were often distinguished on religious lines; the Germans brought Christianity to Latvia in the 13th century, as well as Lutheranism during the Reformation Period. The Polish influence over Latgalia in the 17th and 18th centuries strengthened Catholicism among the native Latgalians. Incoming populations of Russian Old Believers introduced Russian Orthodoxy, and up to the 1940s, Rēzekne had a very large Jewish population, and therefore, many synagogues.

One of the most famous statues in Latvia, known as “Latgales Māra”, is found in Rēzekne. It was designed by Leons Tomašickis and first unveiled on 8 September 1939. The bronze statue commemorates the liberation of Latgale from the Red Army in January 1920. The central figure, the woman, is popularly associated with Māra the ancient Latvian goddess of motherhood, fertility, and earth. The cross in her outstretched arm symbolizes the deep importance of Catholicism to Latgalian culture. The words “Vienoti Latvijai” beneath the statue (meaning “United for Latvia”) designates the decision to reunite with the rest of Latvia during the Republic’s formation in 1918, even though Latgale had been politically separated from the rest of Latvia for 300 years. Because the statue symbolized Latvian nationalism, the Soviets toppled it in November 1940 during the first Soviet occupation of Latvia. Under German occupation the local residents restored it on 22 August 1943. The reinstated Soviet government pulled it down again in June 1950. After that, the fate of the original statue is unknown. After Latvia regained its independence in 1991, the statue was reconstructed using old photographs and blueprints, and unveiled on 13 August 1992. Though Soviet rule greatly changed Latgale, Latgales Māra still symbolizes a Catholic Latgale united with Latvia, free of foreign domination.

Rēzekne castle mount with Livonian Order castle ruins © Harald Hansen Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church © panoramio.com - Janis Sedols/cc-by-3.0 Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral © Rabanus Flavus/cc-by-sa-3.0 Centre of culture Gors © vilnisr/cc-by-sa-3.0 Creative Centre Zeimuls © panoramio.com - Sirujs Enobs/cc-by-sa-3.0 The Green Synagogue © Otto Magnus/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church © panoramio.com - Janis Sedols/cc-by-3.0
The Castle Ruins, situated on the hill by the river, are the remainders of the ancient fortified residence of ancient Latgalians which existed there from the 9th to 13th centuries. At the end of the 13th century the Livonian Order built a stone castle (Rozitten castle). It was situated in a strategically important place, so the Russians, Lithuanians and Poles were seeking to conquer it. The castle was completely destroyed during the Polish-Swedish war (1656-1660). A model of Rēzekne castle by Edmunds Smans is located near the castle hill.

The Latgale Culture and History Museum (Latgales Kultūrvēstures muzejs) was opened in 1959. The museum offers exposition of the town history, art exhibitions, and pedagogical activities for children. The exposition of Latgale ceramics is the only permanent exposition in Latvia to reflect Latgalian ceramics in its history from the beginning of pottery in the Neolithic period until the achievements of present-day Latgalian ceramists and modern developments. Ceramics collection includes 2000 ceramic wares, made by the renowned Latgalian ceramicists, such as Andrejs Paulāns, Polikarps Čerņavskis, Polikarps Vilcāns, Jānis Backāns, Ādams Kāpostiņš and others. At the moment the museum stock collection has about 70 thousand items.

The building which is now the Art House was built in the last quarter of the 19th century for the merchant Vorobjov. It features rich woodcarvings on its façade, decorated in an eclectic style. It soon became the property of the city, and was used as a teachers’ institute, a school, a tuberculosis centre and a military registration office. This frequent change of users almost totally destroyed the original rich interior. In the middle of the 1990s it was acquired by the Rezekne Art College. Due to the efforts of the students and teachers, the Art House got back its original outlook. It houses the exposition “Latgalian painting” from the reserves of the Latgale Culture History Museum.

The Eastern Latvia’s Center of Creative Services “Zeimuļs” houses classes of interest and non-formal education for children and youth. The opening of the center was on 1 September 2012. The architects were Rasa Kalniņa and Māris Krumiņš who used Latvian ethnographic motifs in their design. The main construction materials are concrete, glass, metal and wood. It is the largest building with a green roof in the Baltic countries. The towers offer one of the best views in Rezekne, over the Castle Hill and the historical center of the city.

The multifunctional culture centre “Gors” (The Embassy of Latgale) was opened in 2013. In addition to the main 1000-seat concert hall, it includes a 220-seat concert hall, Registration of marriages hall, exhibition space, repetition halls and a restaurant. The centre is used for a variety of purposes, including concerts, conferences, film, ballet and theatre.

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Read more on Rēzekne, latvia.travel – Rēzekne, Wikivoyage Rēzekne and Wikipedia Rēzekne. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Johns Hopkins University & Medicine - Coronavirus Resource Center - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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