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Latgale – the Land of Blue Lakes

Aug 20, 2015
Latgale – the Land of Blue Lakes

Latgale is a region rich in history in East of Latvia. The most unique characteristic of Latgale is the Latgalian dialect, which is still commonly used and has its own alphabet. Its history is as colourful as the weaver’s patterned bedspreads. A faint reminder of the ages long past are the hundred and fifty castle mounds, scattered all throughout the region. Many architectural monuments – such as cathedrals, churches, manors, farmsteads, also parks – that were built in 18th and 19th centuries are beautifully preserved until this day.

The Land of Blue Lakes acquired its name for a very obvious reason – Latgale has the largest number of lakes in Latvia, and several of these lakes are interconnected, making it a popular destination for scenic boat rides. The old valley of river Daugava, “Daugavas loki”, attracts with its many curiosities – great stones (the biggest Latvian great stone measures up to 130 m3), glens and picturesque slopes.

Latgale was a part of Kingdom of Poland up until the 16th century.  The influence of Polish rule is the most noticeable in religion; the road sides are adorned with crucifixes, religious icons and white churches. The dominating religion is Roman Catholicism, and the Aglona Basilica is one of the most important Catholic spiritual centres in Latvia. Every August it attracts many thousands of pilgrims from near and far to mark the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven.

Latgalian craftsmen have preserved the old traditions of their skill, passing it from one generation to next. The local pottery is characterised by rich colour glazing; the traditional patterns and ornaments are still used in weaving and knitting; the wickerwork is both beautiful and practical.

Latgale is an equally exciting destination for gourmets, offering a wide variety of local delicacies and specialising farms that warmly welcome all visitors. Ecotourism, too, is becoming increasingly popular, making this Land of Blue Lakes an excellent choice for a getaway from the Riga city bustle.

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