Latgale Vidzeme Zemgale
Kurzeme occupies the South-eastern region of Latvia. Bound by the sea to the north and west, the region is known for its many fishing villages nestled among pines, massive forests and large ice-free ports, such as Ventspils, an important commercial city that helped shape the region.
For a comparatively small region, Kurzeme’s coastal landscape is remarkably varied. In places there are high sand dunes, elsewhere grassy fields that stretch to the sea - wonderful landscapes for exploring whilst on vacation. Here its possible to walk along beaches for kilometres without meeting a single soul. Kolka Horn, Kurzeme’s northern-most point, is well worth a visit. A shoal 1-2 metres deep and 6 kilometres long separates the Baltic Sea from the Gulf of Riga.
On windy days, waves from the open sea meet those of the gulf in an enthralling spectacle. The Kurzeme coastline is still home to Livs, ancient founders of Latvia. Their fight for survival today is a subject of international scientific study. Of the 182 registered Livs, only about 10 still speak the Livi language - the least number of people to speak a native language in Europe. Their 14 remaining villages are a must see.
The city of Venstpils is a bustling ice-free port, the largest in the Baltics. Its well-kept streets and neatly painted buildings will delight the visitor curious to see Latvia’s past in the present. There is also much to see in Liepaja, in southern Kurzeme. One third of the city is occupied by the Karaosta, once the naval base for powerful Russian warships during the Soviet Occupation. For 50 years it was a closed zone for Westerners. This, along with the bunkers and fortifications built during the Tsarist reign offer interesting and almost spooky viewing. Liepaja is also a musicians' city.
The largest church organ in Europe can be found in St. Trinity’s Church, which hosts many concerts. Liepaja also hosts the annual rock concert "Liepajas Dzintars" (Liepaja Amber). Kurzeme has many small towns worth visiting. Talsi, the town of nine hills, offers splendid views from the banks of its two lakes. One of the most picturesque towns, Kandava is located on the shore of the Abava River. In 1996 the World Foundation for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage included Abava River Valley in a list of 100 unique and endangered
areas of cultural significance. Kuldiga is considered to be the most beautiful example of a 16th-17th century town. Nearby is Ventas Rumba - a series of rapids that have carved one of the widest waterfalls in Europe - 270 metres wide! Kurzeme is easily reachable from Riga and can be toured in a day. Those who remain longer will experience a truly unique view of life.