Daugavpils Downtown

Daugavpils downtown of straight 19th century streets may be too much altered by Soviet rebuilding drive to retain that old charm it must have had, but it is nevertheless the center of the city.

A grand Stalinist Soviet cinema, now a nightclub
A grand Stalinist Soviet cinema, now a nightclub. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Finding shopping, nightlife and accommodation opportunities is the easiest here, and access to most sights beyond downtown is also trivial. Daugavpils train and bus stations are both located in the downtown. Unlike many Western cities, the main malls of Daugavpils are right at its center.

A mall in downtown Daugavpils
A mall in downtown Daugavpils. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

While many old buildings have been demolished and replaced by nondescript Soviet parks or boring new edifices, many still remain to be found while exploring Daugavpils streets. The city is especially famous for its red brick edifices where bricks are formed into ornaments to beautify facades.

Elaborate red brick building in Daugavpils downtown
Elaborate red brick building in Daugavpils downtown. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The heart of Downtown Daugavpils is the Unity Square which hosts an art deco Unity House (1937; a project of interwar Latvia), the theater and a Latvian home museum of pre-modern handicrafts.

Unity House
Unity House, still housing all the main cultural institutions of Daugavpils: theater, concert hall, library and now also tourist information. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Rigas Street, the main pedestrianized street of Daugavpils connects Unity Square to train station, offering some old facades.

Riga pedestrian street in Daugavpils
Riga pedestrian street. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Downtown Daugavpils also have multiple houses of worship from the pre-WW2 era, though they are small as the city used to be religiously fragmented. These are the St. Peter Catholic Church (1934) and Synagogue (1850). The Russian Orthodox church has been imploded by the Soviets in 1969 and only a small chapel was rebuilt in its place after independence.

St. Peter Catholic church
St. Peter Catholic Church modeled after the St. Peter Basilica in Rome, with a colonnaded circular square in front (however, it is so small it looks more of a chapel than parish church). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Two main parks of downtown Daugavpils are the Dubrovin park (laid in the 19th century and named after the mayor of the time) and Central Park (a larger one that includes sports facilities and an ice hockey hall nearby). Dubrovin park has a fountain, an old towered firefighters building and a Soviet WW2 memorial which is still welcome by primarily Russian Daugavpils residents.

World War 2 memorial in Dubrovin park
World War 2 memorial in Dubrovin park. 1944 is the date of Soviet re-occupation of Daugavpils, a tragedy to Latvians yet viewed with ethnic pride by Russians. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Daugavpils downtown also hosts a regional museum offering information on local fauna and cultural history,

To the south Daugavpils Downtown is limited by a 6 km long dike which safeguards the city from Daugava floods, a 19th-century engineering marvel.

Dike of Daugavpils
Dike of Daugavpils. It is higher than both Daugava and the homes beyond it. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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