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Latvia 2027, nine cities for a queen's seat

Riga Riga Photo by Pixabay

In accordance with the calendar set out in the Annex to the Decision, in 2027 the European Capital of Culture will be given the name of one Latvian and one Portuguese city. For Latvia, this is the second opportunity to give the name of the European Capital of Culture to one of the cities. In 2014, the name was given to two European cities – the capital of Latvia – Riga and Umeå in Sweden.

In 2027, another Latvian city will be given this honour, and no fewer than nine regional centers have thrown their hats into the ring to submit their bids in June.

Applicants are invited to submit their application by 4 June 2021 5 pm at the Ministry of Culture (Kr. Valdemāra Street 11a, Riga, LV - 1364).

let's go and discover them.


 “ARTTERIES - Culture is the pulse of life”

Jūrmala (50.000 inhabitants) is a Latvian resort city (the fifth largest by population ) on the Gulf of Riga, just west of the capital, Riga. It’s known for wooden, art nouveau seaside villas, Soviet-era sanatoriums and long, sandy Jūrmala Beach. Near the beach are the Dzintari Concert Hall complex, dating from the 1930s, and Dzintari Forest Park. On the banks of winding Lielupe River, the Jūrmala City Museum tells the history of the city through thousands of objects.

The city of Jūrmala actually consists of a string of small resorts.

What to see: Ķemeri National Park is a national park west of the city of Jūrmala, Latvia. The Dzintari Forest Park  is located near the centre of Jūrmala, with 200 year old pine groves surrounding the park. Jurmala Open Air Museum located east of Bulduri celebrates the cities fishing heritage.

During the Soviet era, Jūrmala was a venue for various festivals, including the pop music festival "Jūrmala" (1986–1993).

Since 2001 Jūrmala had hosted a competition for young pop singers, "New Wave", from all over Europe. It also hosted the "Singing KiViN" event each July. Due to the ban on Russian media personalities entering Latvia, both competitions were moved from Jūrmala.[19][20]

The Jūrmala International Piano Competition, arranged by the City Council and the Latvian Piano Teachers Association in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of Latvia, for pianists of all nationalities aged 19 years and under, was established in 1994 and is held every two years in the "Dzintari" concert hall. As the International Academic Music Competition (with various categories), it reached its 11th Season in 2010.

Website here


Kuldīga is a town in western Latvia. It is the center of Kuldīga Municipality with a population of approximately 13,500.

Kuldīga is commonly known as the Nordic Venice and, due to the water that flows through it and its abundant historical architecture, it is included in UNESCO’s Latvian National Register.

For scenic walks, choose the well-maintained walking trails on either bank of the Venta River. The tidy urban environment and the pleasant atmosphere of the city make it ideal for romantic walks.

Kuldīga is a small and attractive town in Kurzeme which has always been admired and praised by poets and painters. The 'historical city centre, which developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, has still preserved the old wooden buildings which form small and narrow streets. The tradition has survived: the pulse of the town is best felt in the central square, a venue for weavers' exhibitions, traditional festivities and other events.

What to see: The Venta waterfall (Ventas rumba) is the widest waterfall in Europe. This 240 meter wide naturally formed waterfall is associated with a number of legends and historic events. In spring, one can watch the fish flying up the ledge; due to this, Kuldīga was once famous as a "place where they catch salmon in the air".

Summer is a cavalcade of festivals, including a naked collective jog over the stately Venta River bridge, and there are some of Latvia's best bars and cafes, which Covid-willing should be open again this year. Even nature gets into the groove, as every spring vimba fish jump up the Ventas rumba, Europe’s widest waterfall.

Website here


“In the idea applications, we invite you to think boldly, not to shy away from the "flight of inspiration" and imagine that there are no limits to possibilities! At the same time, in the process of generating ideas, we encourage thinking contemporary, focusing on the future and its possibilities”.

Jelgava is a city in central Latvia about 41 kilometres southwest of Riga with 55,972 inhabitants. It is the largest town in the region of Zemgale. Jelgava was the capital of the united Duchy of Courland and Semigallia and the administrative center of the Courland Governorate.

Until 1917, the city was officially referred to as Mitau. The name Jelgava is believed to be derived from the Livonian word jālgab, meaning "town on the river.

In late July 1944, the Soviet Red army launched an attack from the south in the direction of Jelgava and Tukums to encircle the German Army Group North. In late August, the German army launched a counterattack on Jelgava from the north but it failed to drive back the Soviets. Jelgava remained on the frontline until 10 October when the German army retreated to Courland. The city's historic centre, industry, rail network, and public buildings were heavily damaged by the fighting, with almost 90% of the city destroyed. Among lost buildings was famous Kurland Provincial Museum and Athenaeum.

Jelgava was rebuilt in typical Soviet style after World War II as part of the Latvian SSR. Jelgava became home to several big factories.

Jelgava regularly hosts an international Ice Sculpture festival, Student Folk Festival, Easter Walk, Latvian Plant Days, Business Days, Jelgava City Festival, Summer solstice in Jelgava, medicine market, International Cat Show "Jelgava Cat" , Sports Day, International Sand Sculpture Festival, Latvian Milk, Bread and Honey Festival  and Milk Packet Boat Regatta, Beginning of the School Year, Metal Festival, Azemitologa Festival, Autumn fair  "Miķeļdienas waiting".

Website here


“A place where a new star of culture is born in the European constellation. These stars are all the people of Cēsis. Every star is unique here. They shine, they illuminate, they collaborate, they tell a story! There are great stars and little ones. Along with the surrounding counties they create an entire galaxy, a star path”.

Cēsis (20.000 inhabitants) is a town in northeastern Latvia, known for its medieval castle.

Cēsis was founded in 1206 and it is the third oldest town in Latvia. According to the evidence, Cēsis was inhabited from the fourth century. It experienced a rapid growth in times of the Livonian Order, when the town became the capital of Livonia and the main centre of development of Vidzeme.

First built in the 13th century and rebuilt many times since, Cēsis Castle features wall paintings, dungeons and towers with views. Its Castle Park includes an old brewery, a cemetery and the Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Church. Also on castle grounds, the 18th-century Castle Manor House is home to the Cēsis History and Art Museum.

Since long ago Cēsis is known as the town rich with its cultural and historical heritage, art treasures and excellent cultural traditions and it has not been concealed from the eyes of travellers. The values on which the district of Cēsis bases its future is culture, education, tourism and creative entrepreneurship.

Cēsis – it is a celebration – contemporary art exhibitions during Cēsis Art Festival time, medieval activities and knights in Medieval festival, and the warm summer evening concerts on open-air stage in the Castle Park. Cēsis – one of the most beautiful towns of Latvia. In summer it tempts with the unspoiled nature of the Gauja Valley, breath of the Middle Ages and modern art, and in winter - invites us to visit the largest ski centre in the Baltics which impresses with its variety of tracks and the longest descents in the region.

Website here.


Daugavpils is a city in south-eastern Latvia, located on the banks of the Daugava River, from which the city gets its name. It is the second-largest city in the country after the capital Riga, which is located some 230 kilometres to its north-west. As of 1 January 2020, the city had a population of 82,046.

Prior to the Holocaust, Daugavpils, (called by its Jewish inhabitants Dvinsk), was home to the most prominent Jewish community in eastern Latvia.

Daugavpils is an important cultural centre in eastern Latvia. There are 22 primary and secondary schools, four vocational schools, and the Saules College of Art. More than 1,000 teachers and engineers graduate from the University of Daugavpils (formerly Daugavpils Pedagogical University) and the local branch of Riga Technical University annually. There is also a Polish gymnasium on Varšavas iela (Warsaw Street).

In 2007 the Daugavpils Theatre was restored. There is also one cinema as well as other cultural institutions. The city exhibition center offers many cultural activities.

There are also several architectural, historical, and cultural monuments in Daugavpils. The most prominent is the Daugavpils fortress dating mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries. In April 2013 the Mark Rothko Art centre was opened in the fortress.

Mark Rothko Art Centre (Latvian: Daugavpils Marka Rotko mākslas centrs – DMRAC) is a multi-functional institution of culture, arts and education, located inside the arsenal building of the Daugavpils fortress in Daugavpils, Latvia. It is a unique place in Eastern Europe, where the original paintings of Mark Rothko are located.

Website here


“If we can imagine it, we can make it happen”

Valmiera is the largest city of the historical Vidzeme region, with a total area of 19.35 square kilometres (25.000 inhabitants)

Valmiera lies at the crossroads of several important roads, 107 kilometres (66 miles) to the north-east from Riga, the capital of Latvia, and 50 km (31 mi) south of the border with Estonia. Valmiera lies on both banks of the Gauja River.

Valmiera and its surroundings have been one of the longest-inhabited regions of Latvia. Archeological evidence indicates the site was inhabited 9,000 years ago. In 1224, the land around the Gauja was captured by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, and then by the Livonian Order. This location near the Gauja trade route contributed to the growth of the settlement. Valmiera is a former member of the Hanseatic League.

Valmiera, the northern gateway to Gauja National Park, delights visitors with its beautiful nature and its cultural and historic monuments, along with hosting interesting cultural and sporting events, and providing breathtaking stories and legends.

Culture and art enthusiasts can enjoy performances in the Valmiera Drama Theatre, and art exhibitions which are available both in Valmiera Museum and Valmiera Community Centre. The art gallery known as ‘Gallery Laipa’, in its turn, provides an opportunity for everyone to express themselves in a creative way by engaging in various master classes. A popular place of recreation in Valmiera is also the ‘Gaisma’ cinema, which regularly offers the latest film premieres and the chance of watching 3D films.

Website here


Ogre is the principal town of Ogre Municipality in Central Latvia, 36 kilometres east of the capital Riga, situated at the confluence of the Daugava and Ogre rivers. It has been a town since 1928. The population in 2020 was 23,273. Ogre is composed of three parts: Jaunogre, Ogre, and Pārogre.

The name of the town comes from the Ogre river. The Ogre village was first mentioned in 1206, called "Oger" in German. In 1861, when a railway Riga–Daugavpils was built, Riga's residents started to build summer cottages here. In 1862 Ogre became a health resort.

The archeological excavations testify that the Livi tribes inhabited the territory of Ogre already in the 1st century BC. The region has been governed by the Germans, the Poles, the Swedes and the Russians since then.

The transformation of Ogre into an industrially developed district centre started after World War II and brought about a turning point in its development.

The cultural life is very active in Ogre Municipality, especially due to the activities of Ogre Culture Centre, which is a multi-functional cultural institution, and its affiliates - culture houses and community houses in the civil parishes. Concerts, theatre performances and other culture events are organised regularly.

 Art and music schools play important roles in the cultural life of the Municipality and significantly contribute to the development of young talents. The programme of Ogre Art School is realized in five years. Ogre Music School has been the initiator and host of international music camps for Latvian musicians while Art School regularly organizes various art exhibitions.

The city will celebrate its centenary in 2028.

Website here


“The shared vision of the program is to provide everyone with landmarks and beacons in the ever-changing world of rest and unrest. Each of the five lines of the program – “European Dream”, “Port Paradox”, “New Eyes”, “Deliberate Modesty” and “Creative Foresight” – reveals a story closely linked to Liepāja and its roots to Europe”.

 Liepāja is the 3rd largest city in Latvia and the 10th largest in the Baltic States. About 70,000 people call Liepāja their home, their place of study and work.

The city is sandwiched between the Baltic Sea and Lake Liepāja which themselves are connected by the Trade Canal.

Liepāja has historically been an industrial city as well as a closed military territory, however, over the years the city’s residential, recreational and business environment has seen ongoing improvements put in place. It has become a modern city with a global outlook, but at the same time retaining the comforts typical of a small town.

Liepāja has a rich history of culture, art and sports. There are events taking place all year long that cater to any taste – from exhibitions of local artists to performances by internationally recognized artists, from classical music concerts to grand beach festivals, from amateur sports competitions to European championships.

Featuring as the centrepiece of most events is the recently built concert hall “Great Amber”. The concert hall is home to the oldest orchestra in the Baltics – Liepāja Symphony Orchestra.

The Port of Liepāja is the third largest in Latvia by volume of shipped freight.

Besides the capital, Riga, Liepāja is the only city in Latvia to provide transportation via air, land, and sea.

Liepaja has a great foundation for creativity – more than a hundred years old professional theatre – theatre of Liepaja, and the oldest orchestra in the Baltics – Liepaja symphonic orchestra.

On average around 140 cultural events take place in Liepaja every month, which means that everyone will find something to their own liking.

Website here


Jēkabpils (20.000 inhabitants) is a city in southeastern Latvia roughly halfway between Riga and Daugavpils and spanning the Daugava River. Historic Jēkabpils lies on the left bank, in Selonia while historic Krustpils lies on the right bank, in Latgale.

A stone cross-castle — Cruczeborch (German: Kreutzburg) – was built in 1237 by the bishop of Rīga. Archeological excavations on the nearby Asote mound indicate that this place was a busy trading centre for the Latgalians, one of the Latvian tribes, and had been inhabited since 1,000 BC. An adjoining settlement already existed when Krustpils Castle was first built; it grew up around the castle as the village of Krustpils. The village was often destroyed during local wars, such as Polish-Swedish battles, but was always rebuilt afterward.

During the 17th century persecuted Old Believers from Russia settled along the Daugava river. In 1670 this settlement, gradually growing around the Sala Inn, became known as Jēkabpils (Jakobstadt in German) in honor of the Duke of Courland, Jacob Kettler, who granted Magdeburg rights to the town.

One of the Struve Geodetic Arc original station points is located in Strūves park. In Tadenava, not far from Jēkabpils itself, there is a memorial museum to the great Latvian poet Rainis. Nearby are also the castle of Justine and Dignāja. The highest point of Selonia — Ormaņkalns is in the vicinity of Klauce. Between Nereta and Aknīste there is a museum "Riekstiņi" commemorating the famous Latvian writer Jānis Jaunsudrabiņš.

Website here


Serafino Paternoster

Ecocnews Founder, Journalist, repentant jazz guitarist, music critic and film lover.

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