Theme Week Latvia – Ventspils

Tuesday, 24 May 2022 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Ventspils Lighthouse © Algirdas/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ventspils Lighthouse © Algirdas/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ventspils is a city in northwestern Latvia in the historical Courland region of Latvia, and is the sixth largest city in the country. At the beginning of 2020, Ventspils had a population of 33,906. It is situated on the Venta River and the Baltic Sea, and has an ice-free port. The city’s name literally means “castle on the Venta”, referring to the Livonian Order’s castle built alongside the Venta River.

Ventspils developed around the Livonian Order Ventspils Castle, built along the Venta River. It was chartered in 1314 and became an important mercantile city of the Hanseatic League. As part of the Duchy of Courland, Ventspils blossomed as a shipbuilding centre. 44 warships and 79 trading ships were built in the town, and it was from Ventspils that the Duke’s fleet set out to colonize Gambia and Tobago. Metal, amber, and wood-working shops also became important to the city’s development. During the Polish-Swedish War and the Great Northern War, Ventspils was destroyed, and in 1711 a plague wiped out most of the remaining inhabitants. After the Third Partition of Poland in 1795 Ventspils fell under the control of Russian Empire. It was not until about 1850 that shipbuilding and trade became important again. The port was modernized in the 1890s and connected to Moscow by rail. It became one of Imperial Russia’s most profitable ports, by 1913 turning a yearly profit of 130 million rubles. The population soared as well, growing from 7,000 in 1897, to 29,000 in 1913. During the German occupation from 1915 to 1919, the population decreased almost by half, though some returned home during the First Republic of Latvia (1918–1940). In 1939, the Red Army established a base in Ventspils. Under Soviet rule, an oil pipeline was built to Ventspils, and became the USSR’s leading port in crude oil export. Thirty kilometres (19 miles) north of Ventspils is the ex-Soviet radioastronomy installation VIRAC (Ventspils Starptautiskais radioastronomijas centrs or Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre). The existence of the Centrs was unknown to most Latvians until 1994. After independence, the Latvian government began a city-beautification process to make the city more attractive to tourists. In 2004, Ventspils was a host city for a multi-national (United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Latvia, Denmark, Finland, Norway) naval exercise called Baltic Operations XXXIII (BALTOPS). The force was led by the guided missile cruiser USS Anzio and the destroyer USS Cole. The US vessels were the first American warships to visit the port of Ventspils since Latvian independence was declared.

Ventspils is situated at the mouth of the Venta River, where it empties into the Baltic Sea, and is an important ice-free port. Large amounts of oil and other mineral resources from Russia are loaded aboard ships at Ventspils. Ventspils Airport, one of the three international airports in Latvia, is located in the city. Ventspils High Technology Park provides infrastructure and services to IT and electronics companies.

Nicholas Lutheran church © Vaido Otsar/cc-by-sa-4.0 Creative House © Ymblanter/cc-by-sa-4.0 © panoramio.com - Romāns Kolduns/cc-by-3.0 © Scotch Mist/cc-by-sa-4.0 Ventspils Castle © Algirdas/cc-by-sa-3.0 Ventspils Lighthouse © Algirdas/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Nicholas Lutheran church © Vaido Otsar/cc-by-sa-4.0
Every winter Ventspils hosts the awarding ceremony of the Latvian Radio broadcast Musical Bank and the televised national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. On the second weekend of July the Sea Festival takes place, and on the first weekend of August there is an annual city festival. Festivals Ghetto games and Vakara pastaiga are popular. There are several institutions taking responsibility for the cultural life of Ventspils, including:

  • The Theatre House “Juras varti” presents professional performing arts of various genres.
  • The Ventspils Museum is engaged in the research and the recording of the history of Ventspils. It writes the Ventspils City Chronicle, builds up the collections of the museum and carries out scientific work.
  • The Ventspils Library is a municipal, cultural, educational, and information institution.
  • The International Writers and Translators’ House is an international centre for writers and translators.

Ventspils developed rapidly as a commercial harbour in the years of growth of Duchy of Courland and Semigallia. The most active building works took place in the vicinity of the present Market Square where a number of former storehouses from the 17th century are preserved. A dwelling house at the crossing of Tirgus and Skolas Streets is one of the oldest houses of such type in Latvia (built in 1646). Next to the Market Square, in a historical school building on Skolas street, there is the Ventspils House of the Crafts (2007). The International Writers’ and Translators’ House (2006) was opened on the premises of the former City Hall (1850), on the City-Hall Square. The building is reconstructed to accommodate creative work and everyday needs of its writers. Located next to it are the recently renovated Ventspils Central Library (2006) and Evangelic-Lutheran Church of Nicholas (1835). The City-Hall Square, the Market Square and the Ostas Street Promenade are popular walking places.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Ventspils, latvia.travel – Ventspils, Wikivoyage Ventspils and Wikipedia Ventspils. 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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