Daugavpils. Repeat after me: Daugavpils. Now guess why. This Latvian gem is the second largest city in the country, a postcard-pretty settlement surrounded by lakes and leafy parks, and an important cultural center.
Perhaps the most photographed landmark and the symbol of the city, the Daugavpils Fortress (Dinaburg Fortress) is also the heart of the local culture, arts, and education scene. It’s a unique military structure of the early 19th century, fortunately preserved in excellent condition, enough to be now used to host the Mark Rothko Art Centre with its extensive collection of original paintings by Mark Rothko, as well as a digital exposition on the artist’s biography, a collection of contemporary art, and exhibitions of the Great Children of Daugavpils. The center also features residences for artists with shared kitchen, a video hall, an archive and library, conference and seminar facilities, meeting rooms, and more.
The historical center of the city is a heritage area too, but for Daugavpils it signifies a lot more than a tourist destination. It is the pride of the locals because it features significant examples of classic and modern unified by flawless urban planning. This is where you will find the Daugavpils University, the Regional and Art Museum, the Dubrovina Park, and several other attractions. You will also notice a number of red brick buildings, which are significant. Most of them are heritage buildings, and if you stroll down Rīgas iela you will also enjoy uncluttered pedestrian squares, and pleasant shade as you observe the architectural features that make the neighborhood such a cherished Latvian treasure. They had a compelling city guide prepared for 2016 (*.pdf), which introduces the most important attractions in Latvian, Russian, and English. For example, the guide recommends that you visit the oldest ammunition factory in Northern Europe, Daugavpils Lead Shot Factory; the birthplace of actor Solomon Mikhoels at Mikhoelsa Street 4, the Rothko memorial on the banks of the Daugava river, and the Church Hill with its glorious religious landmarks: Martin Luther Cathedral (1893), Roman Catholic Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1905), SS Boris and Gleb Russian Orthodox Cathedral (1905), and the Church of the Community of Old Believers (1908–1928).
The city also takes pride in being the home of the oldest performing theater in Latvia, the Daugavpils Theatre, with a rich repertoire in Latvian, Latgalian, and Russian. Then, a visit at the Latvian House introduces you into the local folklore with exhibits featuring handicrafts, rustic tools, household items, and more. Don’t miss the Centre of Russian Culture, especially for the collection of Gzhel ceramics. You can visit the official website for more information on the main attractions of the city and we will follow up next week with a guide of best hotels to stay and best places to dine.