Rēzekne

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This article is about the city. For the river, see Rēzekne River.
Rēzekne
City
The Rēzekne castle mound with Livonian Order castle ruins
The Rēzekne castle mound with Livonian Order castle ruins
Flag of Rēzekne
Flag
Coat of arms of Rēzekne
Coat of arms
Rēzekne is located in Latvia
Rēzekne
Rēzekne
Location in Latvia
Coordinates: 56°30′23″N 27°19′50″E / 56.50639°N 27.33056°E / 56.50639; 27.33056
Country  Latvia
First mentioned 1285
Town rights 1773
Government
 • Mayor Aleksandrs Bartaševičs
Area
 • Total 17.48 km2 (6.75 sq mi)
 • Land 16.74 km2 (6.46 sq mi)
 • Water 0.74 km2 (0.29 sq mi)
Elevation 158.2 m (519.0 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 32,328
 • Density 2,079/km2 (5,380/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal codes LV-4601
LV-4604
LV-4605
LV-4606
Calling code +371 646
Number of city council members 13
Website www.rezekne.lv

Rēzekne (Latvian: Rēzekne pronounced [ˈrɛːzekne] ( ); Latgalian Rēzne pronounced [rʲæːzʲnʲæ] or Rēzekne pronounced [ˈrʲæːzʲækʲnʲæ]; German: Rositten; Polish: Rzeżyca) is a city in the Latgalia region of eastern Latvia in Rēzekne River valley, also known by the nickname Latgales sirds (Latgalian Latgolys sirds) meaning The Heart of Latgalia. Built on seven hills, Rēzekne is situated 242 kilometres (150 miles) east of Riga, and 63 kilometres (39 miles) west of the Latvian-Russian border, at the intersection of the MoscowRiga and Warsaw – Saint Petersburg Railways. It has a population of 35,883 (2008), making it the 7th largest city in Latvia .

History[edit]

Rēzekne early 20th century

A Latgalian hill fort[1] is known to have existed at Rēzekne from the 9th to the 13th centuries, until its destruction at the hands of German crusaders of the Livonian Order. In 1285, the knights built a stone fortress on the site, which is today known as Rēzekne castle ruins, to serve as a border post on their eastern frontier.

The name Rēzekne was first documented in 1285. Throughout its early history, Rēzekne was attacked many times by Russian and Lithuanian forces. The town became part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth after the Peace of Jam Zapolski in 1582 during the Livonian War.[1] Rēzekne received Magdeburg rights from Poland in the 17th century, but fell to the Russian Empire during the Partitions of Poland. In 1773, Rēzekne received city rights.

During the 19th century, the arrival of the Moscow-Riga and Saint Petersburg-Warsaw railways transformed Rēzekne from a sleepy country town into an important city with two stations.

In the spring of 1917, the first congress of Latgalia was held in Rēzekne, in which Latgale decided to unite with the rest of Latvia. Following Latvia's declaration of independence in 1918, and the driving out of both the German and Red armies from Latvia, the city became a cultural centre for all of Latgale.

German POW march through Rēzekne 1940s

Rēzekne was heavily damaged by both Nazi and Soviet armies during World War II; after heavy air-bombing by Soviet forces in 1944, 2/3 of its original buildings were completely destroyed. Out of a pre-war population of 13,300, only 5,000 people remained in the city at the end of the war.

Rēzekne was rebuilt after the war with an emphasis on industrial development. Rēzekne had the 5th highest industrial output in the Latvian SSR, including a dairy processor, lumber mill, and electric-instrument factory. During this time, many Russians moved to the city, making up a large part of the population (48.5% in 2007).

Demographics[edit]

Based on the data provided by Latvijas Statistika, the population of Rēzekne was 10795 in the year 1897 decreasing to 9997 in 1920, while increasing again to 12620 and then to 13139 in years 1925 and 1935, respectively.[2]

Residents of Rēzekne by ethnicity
Latvians
  
47.0%
Russians
  
46.5%
Poles
  
2.5%
Belarusians
  
1.5%
Ukrainians
  
1.2%
Others
  
1.3%

In the 19th century, the population of Rēzekne was around 2/3 Jewish. As a result of the Pale of Settlement many Jews settled in Latgalia and were confined to the cities. The remainder of the population included Poles, Germans, Russians, and an extreme minority of native Latgalians. With the economic development and the arrival of the railroad, the population grew steadily, reaching 23,000 by the eve of World War I.

After Latvia's independence in 1918, the population of ethnic Latvians in the city grew substantially, but Jews still made up slightly over a quarter of the population (25.4% in 1935.) In 1939, the population was 13,000. During World War II, the Jewish population was annihilated, and most other residents were either deported to Gulag camps in Siberia, or fled westwards. As a result, the post-war population was 5,000.

As part of the Soviet Union's policy of Russification,[citation needed] many ethnic Slavs, such as Russians and Belarusians, moved to the city. By 1989, Russians accounted for the majority of the population, at 53%. After Latvia's independence in 1991, however, many people repatriated to Russia.

In 1991, the population of Rēzekne was 43,156. Since then, the population has decreased to 32,295 (2011), caused by a low birth rate, an old population (the average age in Rēzekne is 40.3 years) (see ageing of Europe), and a high rate of emigration to larger cities such as Riga.

Religion[edit]

Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral

Due to Rēzekne's multi-ethnic character throughout the centuries, many religious communities have settled in the city. Ethnic differences were often distinguished on religious lines; the Germans brought Christianity to Latvia in the 13th century, as well as Lutheranism during the Reformation Period. The Polish influence over Latgalia in the 17th and 18th centuries strengthened Catholicism among the native Latgalians. Incoming populations of Russian Old Believers introduced Russian Orthodoxy, and up to the 1940s, Rēzekne had a very large Jewish population, and therefore, many synagogues.

The Catholic Cathedral "Vissvētā Jēzus Sirds" (Sacred Heart of Jesus), (built 1893-1914) dominates Rēzekne's skyline looking from the castle hill. "Vissvētā Jēzus Sirds" was built on the foundations of an older wooden church, dating from the 17th century, that burned down. The other Catholic church, "Sāpju Dievmāte" (Our Lady of Sorrows) is much newer, built from 1935-1939. Other churches include the Old Believers "Svētā Nikolaja" (St. Nicholas), Russian Orthodox "Vissvētākās Dievdzemdētājas piedzimšanas", Lutheran "Svētās Trīsvienības" (Holy Trinity), as well as a Baptist church.

The church has an active choir whose members have studied music. A majority of the members work as musicians and enjoy their Sunday singing in the church.

Sunday choir of orthodox church

Heart of Jesus Cathedral[edit]

The Cathedral was consecrated in 1901. It was built on the site of a previous wooden church which had been constructed from the funds alloted by Kraków military leader Belinskis. In 1887 the church was destroyed in the thunderstrom-caused fire. While attending the cathedral it worth paying attention to the curved wooden altars decorated by the sculptures of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, St.Teresa and others. The cathedral is famous for its depictions in stained glasses of first Livonian bishops -St.Maynard and St.Albert. Since 1995 it is the centre of Rezekne-Aglona diocese with the seat of the bishop.

Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church[edit]

Construction of the church began in 1936 (architect Pavlov). The 27 metres (89 feet) tall building was built in neo-romantic style. The church was consecrated on 6 December 1937, but the construction was finished only in 1939. Next to the church the sculpture of Virgin Fátima is located. It should be mentioned that many buildings in the city such as the Nation Palace of Latvian Society (the Culture House nowadays), the building of 6-classes elementary school (Secondary School no.3) and Red Cross Hospital (the students hostel nowadays) built in the 1930s were designed by Pavlov.

Orthodox Church of the Birth of Holy Jesus' Mother[edit]

Construction of the church dates back to 1840, though it wasn't consecrated until 1846. In 1854 was closed for reconstruction. After two-year reconstruction period the church got its modern look. Tile stoves, tiled floors, three-storey iconostasis and granite stoop decorated the church. A small stone chapel in memory of Alexander II rescue from death is situated on the left side of the church entrance. On the right there is a glass burial vault where the patron of the church, owner of the Adamova manor, General Karaulov and his wife Helen were buried.

Evangelical Lutheran Holy Trinity Church[edit]

The church from red bricks was built in the 1930s. The church was designed by the architect J.Cirulis in neo gothic style. The church was consecrated in 1938. In the summer of 1949 the Soviet authority deprived the parishioners of their church, removed its crosses and dismantled the belfry. For many years there was a rent a film company. The parish got back its property at the beginning of the 1990s and the building has undergone capital repairs (the church was reconstructed). There is an opportunity to climb the bell tower and see the Rezekne from the height of 37 metres (121 feet). The concerts of classic music and divine services take place in the church nowadays.

St.Nicholas Old-Believers' Church[edit]

The church was built in 1895, but in 1906 it was remarkably rebuilt erecting the belfry with 3 bells and as a result the building got its modern outlook. The church is famous of its bells. One of them weighs 4,832 kg (10,653 lb) and it is the biggest bell in Latvia. The bell clapper alone is 200 kg (441 lb) heavy. The museum is now opened in the premises of Rezekne Old-Believers Cemetery Commune and it reveals the daily routine and lifestyle of Latgalian old-believers. In one of the rooms the collected items reflect the church life; another has etnographical staff in it. The museum can be visited on request.

Green Synagogue[edit]

The Synagogue was built in 1845 and it is considered to be the oldest wooden buildings in Rezekne. Before World War II in Rezekne there were 11 synagogues, only one has survived until today -The Rezekne Green Synagogue. Synagogue was open until the 1990s, then it was closed due to safety reasons (its emergency condition). The State Inspection for Heritage Protection of Latvia added it in the list of the most endangered sites in 2004. Rezekne City Council by the support of Norwegian Financial Instrument is carrying out reconstruction of the building. Within the framework of the project it will be possible to create the exhibition devoted to the history of Rezekne's Jews.

Latgales Māra[edit]

Latgales Māra

One of the most famous statues in Latvia, known as "Latgales Māra", is found in Rēzekne. It was designed by Leons Tomašickis and first unveiled on September 8, 1939. The bronze statue commemorates the liberation of Latgale from the Bolsheviks in January 1920. The central figure, the woman, was nicknamed "Māra" after the ancient Latvian goddess of motherhood, fertility, and the earth (see: Māra), while the cross in her outstretched arm symbolizes the deep importance of Catholicism to Latgalian culture and complements the pagan symbol "Māra". The words "Vienoti Latvijai" beneath the statue (meaning "United for Latvija") symbolize Latgale's decision to reunite with the rest of Latvia during the Republic's formation in 1918, even though Latgale had been politically separated from the rest of Latvia for 300 years.

Because the statue symbolized Latgalian nationalism, the Soviets toppled it in November 1940 during the Soviet occupation of Latvia. The local residents restored it on August 22, 1943, after which the Soviet government, in June 1950, pulled it down again. The fate of the original statue is unknown. Using old photographs and blueprints, the statue was reconstructed after Latvia reachieved its independence in 1991, and unveiled on August 13, 1992. Though Latgale was greatly changed under Soviet rule, Latgales Māra still symbolizes a Catholic Latgale united with Latvia, free of foreign domination.[3]

Castle Ruins[edit]

Castle Ruins, situated on the hill by the river are the reminders of the ancient fortified residence of ancient Latgalians which existed there from the 9th to 13th centuries. At the end of the 13th century Livonian castle was built (Rozitten castle). The castle was situated in a strategically important place, so the Russians, Lithuanians, Poles were seeking to conquer the castle, but it was completely destroyed during the Polish-Swedish war (1656-1660). The model of Rezekne castle is located near the castle hill (the author- Edmunds Smans).

Latgale Culture and History Museum[edit]

The museum is the meeting place for different generations, place, where one can get positive emotions. It was opened in 1959. The museum offers exposition of the city history, art exhibitions, pedagogical activities for children. The exposition of Latgale ceramics is the unique constant exposition in Latvia that reflects Latgale ceramics in historical aspect from Neolithic Period that was a beginning of pottery craft until the achievements of present-day Latgale ceramics masters and modern development tendencies. At the moment there are about 65 thousand units in the museum stock collections.

Art House[edit]

The building with the rich woodcarvings on its façade, gorgeously decorated in eclectic style was built in the last quarter of the 19th century. It belonged to the merchant Vorobjovs, but very soon the building became the property of the city. Whilom it was used as teachers' institute as well as the school, the tuberculosis dispenser and the military registration office. Unfortunately, frequent change of owners almost totally destroyed the splendiferous inner arrangement. In the middle of the 1990s it was acquired by the Rezekne Art College. Due to the efforts of the students and the pedagogues, the Art House got back its initial outlook. In the Art House one can get acquainted with the exposition "Latgalian painting" from the reserves of the Latgale Culture History Museum.

Eastern Latvia's Center of Creative Services "Zeimuļs"[edit]

There are classes of interest and non-formal education for children and youth in "Zeimuls". The ceremonial opening of the center was held on September 1, 2012. The architect of the building is Rasa Kalnina and Maris Krumins who used Latvian etnographic signs in their design project. The main construction materials- concrete, glass, metall and wood. It is the biggest building under green roofs in the Baltic countries. The towers offer one of the most interesting views in Rezekne -the Castle Hill and Historical center of the city. "Zeimuls" -the place where young, active, and creative potential of the city meets.

The Embassy of Latgale "GORS"[edit]

The Embassy of Latgale GORS is a place where the story of Latgale is created and told. Culture heritage, ancient values and new ideas along with creativity and language can be found here and enjoyed by both the young and the old. Home to singers, dancers, amazing concert halls and art galleries, a place to relax and enjoy life at the cinema and restaurant.

Lakes[edit]

It is very easy to find a beautiful lake around the city to enjoy a nice summer day swimming in super clean waters. Kovšu is directly in the city. A half an hour bike ride takes you to Adamovas. There are many other nice lakes with different views. Rāznas and Lubāns are two other big and nice lakes which one may reach taking a bus. Rāznas is approximately 20 km (12 mi) to south of city.

Notable residents[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Rēzekne is twinned with:

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rēzekne.com. "History." Retrieved October 4, 2006.
  2. ^ Rēzekne.com. "[1]."
  3. ^ Rēzekne.com. "For united Latgale - Latgales Māra." Retrieved October 4, 2006.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°30′46″N 27°20′34″E / 56.512716°N 27.342739°E / 56.512716; 27.342739