Old Believer district of Daugavpils in Latvia


On the southern bank of Daugava the Grīva suburb was once a separate city.

Grīva is mostly built up with private family homes. While those surrounding main streets are generally new, make a few turns and you may appear at what seems to be a 19th century suburb with old wooden homes and unpaved streets.

Old wooden homes in Grīva
Old wooden homes in Grīva . ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Built as a separate town, Grīva also has petite houses of worship of all the Latgale’s main denominations. Red brick Catholic Church of Blessed Virgin Mary (~1885) is the prettiest. Orthodox church is quite elaborate and interesting for the old wooden homes and atmosphere of 19th century that surrounds it. There are also two Old Believer churches as that community was traditionally especially numerous in Grīva.

Catholic Church of Blessed Virgin Mary
Catholic Church of Blessed Virgin Mary. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Grīva Fortress is a massive 19th century military installation on the oposite bank of Daugava from the Daugavpils fortress. Both fortreses were meant to function together. Unfortunately unlike its “brother fortress” the Grīva Fortress may not be visited as it houses a prison now. But this makes it seem just more mysterious and dark. A memorial stone in front of it commemorates that a Jewish ghetto was established there under Nazi German occupation.

A small part of Grīva Fortress
A small part of Grīva Fortress. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Given that Grīva sights are relatively spread, 10-20 minutes is enough to visit each of them and much of the rest is not that interesting, it is probably best option to visit Grīva only if one has a car.

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