Towns

Latvian towns are usually centered at a Medieval castle or a later manor, from where they were once ruled. A church, or more often churches, stand nearby.

Castle-like 19th century Cēsis palace, with ruins of Medieval castle on the right
Castle-like 19th century Cēsis palace, with ruins of Medieval castle on the right. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The largest and oldest one is typically Lutheran, while Catholic and Russian Orthodox ones are smaller and dating to 19th-20th century.

The small old town consists of single or double story wooden and brick buildings, once inhabited by the German elite and craftsmen. The towns became ethnically Latvian throughout the 19th century urbanization.

Main square of Kuldīga with old brick buildings
Main square of Kuldīga with old brick buildings. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Under Soviet occupation new boring apartment blocks were constructed in larger towns. Some of the towns have their faces altered considerably, losing their identity. However, many of the Latvia’s towns still retain their picturesque old towns.

The prettiest towns of Latvia are Kuldīga, Cēsis, Bauska, Talsi, Kandava.

Sigulda, Gulbene, Alūksne and Jēkabpils, Koknese have a few pretty locations each, mainly castles, palaces and churches.

An old Baroque church in Kraslava. Churches are typically the oldest surviving buildings in Latvian towns
An old Baroque church in Kraslava. Churches are typically the oldest surviving buildings in Latvian towns that remain in original use. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Skrunda-2 is a unique abandoned Soviet military town.

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