The story of Jelgava, Latvia is heartbreaking. Founded in 1265 by the Livonians, the city grew prosperous and by the 16th century was the seat of the Duchy of Courland. The nobility built fine mansions and churches, and the city’s beauty rivaled that of Riga. But in 1944 tragedy struck. Jelgava had the misfortune to be a major railway link for the region and was bombed almost to oblivion.
Stalin hammered the final nail in the coffin when he blew up a few more historical buildings for a scene in a Soviet film about the siege of Leningrad. And yet, glimmers of her former loveliness are still there. You have to squint a little. The old name of Jelgava, Mitau, comes from the Latvian words mīt and mainīt, meaning "to change" or "exchange".
Construction of the Jelgava Palace started in 1737 on an island between the Lielupe river and its branches, when the 14th century Livonian Order castle made place for the new building. Construction finished in 1772. It has been a residency of dukes and province governors. The palace received many famous guests, like the French King Louis XVIII and it was Anna Empress of Russia's home before ascending to the throne.
From 1941 until summer of 1944 the palace was the house of Gebietskommissar von Mitau Walter von Medem. The palace suffered heavy damage in World War II, during battles for Jelgava in the summer of 1944. Palace was almost completely destroyed during heavy shelling and street fighting. The exterior of the palace was restored between 1956 and 1964, but not the interior. The palace now houses the Latvian University of Agriculture and a Gymnasium.
Holy Trinity Church Tower Jelgava
Jelgavas Svētās Trīsvienības baznīcas tornis
Both children and adults will enjoy an interesting visit to the restored tower of the former Holy Trinity Church. The tower's contemporary history exhibitions present life stories of the first national presidents of Latvia, symbols of Jelgava, significant historical events and national costumes of Zemgale.
Take time to enjoy a panoramic view of the city from the sightseeing platform on the 9th floor of the tower, where an exhibition hall is also located.
A special atmosphere is in the tower's restaurant. The tourism information center on the ground floor provides useful resources for the regional traveler.
|Address||Akadēmijas iela 1, Jelgava|
|Telephone||+371 63 005 445|
Cathedral of St Simeon and St Anna Jelgava
Architect N. Chagin designed The St. Simeon’s and St. Anna’s Orthodox Cathedral in Jelgava. Construction took place between 1890-1892, with financial support of Russian Czar Alexander III. The altar and foundation remained from the earlier church which from 1774 according to the design of the architect F.B. Rastrelli.
The cathedral suffered during World War II and during the Soviet occupation. When Latvia regained its independence, the church returned to its Orthodox congregation and reconstruction took place between 1993-2003. There are nine bells in the bell-tower. The biggest bell weighs 830 kg.
There are regular services in the cathedral and there's a library for spiritual literature.
|Address||Raina street 5, Jelgava|
Academia Petrina Jelgava
The architect Severin Jensen built this beautiful classical-style building, known by its original name Academina Petrina, in 1775. It was built as a grammar school after a proposal of Duke Biron. Today the building is a home to the Jelgava History and Art Museum, where you can enjoy the art collection of Latvian painting classic Gederts Elias (1887-1975). In 1987 a monument to the painter appeared next to the museum.
The museum's exposition tells a story of the political, economic and cultural life in the city and district of Jelgava from the most distant past to modern days, with a special focus on Jelgava, the city reduced to ruins during World War II, the city once known in Europe as the capital of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, and later - as that of the Courland Governorate and Zemgale region.
When in the museum's yard, visitors will feel like transferred back in time to 1840's, because everything – both the decorative fencing and the driveway - has been restored to look like in those days.
The museum also offers interactive activities for visitors of different age groups.
A. Alunans Memorial Museum Jelgava
Ādolfa Alunāna memoriālais muzejs
In this house at Folizofu Street 3, the famous father of Latvian theater Adolf Alunans spent the last two years of his life (1910 - 1912). A modern interactive show about the life and creative work of Alunans is open for visitors.
It has a special romantic atmosphere preserving the aura created by this outstanding personality. The restored museum building won a silver award as "The Best Building of Latvia 2011" in the "Restoration" category.
|Address||Filozofu street 3, Jelgava|