Sights of Zemgale
Zemgale is called the region in the southern part of Latvia, which stretches south of Riga and on the left bank of the Daugava up to the border of Lithuania.
In the north of Zemgale is also part of the Kemeri National Park, famous for its healing mud, hydrogen sulfide sources and mineral waters.
Through Zemgale many rivers of Latvia – Daugava, Liepaja, Musa and Memele flow.
Having arrived in Zemgale, you get a unique opportunity to walk along the road of history, and get acquainted with the sights of Zemgale from the 9th century through the Middle Ages to the triumph of Baroque.
The history of Zemgale
Zemgale is mentioned in the 12th century. The name of the region comes from the ancient tribes of Zemgals, who inhabited this territory before the arrival of the XIII century German conquerors. The fertile lands of Zemgale were rich in crops, so there were many wealthy farms and numerous families. In Zemgale on the river Lilupe there was a large shopping center – the port of Zemgales, visited by ships from different countries and where there was a boisterous trade. Zemgale boyars with their fighting squads often invaded the territory of Lithuanians, Livs and Latgales, taking away from there a wealth of prey. In turn, the raids of Lithuanians devastated the villages of Zemgales.
By the time of the arrival of the Crusaders in Latvia, the Viestards ruled in Tervete, which was subjugated to most of the districts in Zemgale. The Viestart went on to cooperate with the Germans and called them for a joint attack on the Lithuanians. Riga bishop Albert, aware of the impossibility of seizing Zemgale by force, went to an alliance with the Viestart, but sought to undermine the unity of Zemgals from within. By the trick he managed to achieve that the prosperous Zemgales from Mezotne refused to obey the Vijestars, accepted Christianity and allowed the military unit of the Germans to settle in the castle of Mezotne. Under the fear of being excommunicated from the church and other threats, Albert secured a ban on German merchant ships visiting the Zemgale harbor. As a result, all income from trading went to Riga.
The German conquerors took almost a century to establish their power over the whole territory of Zemgale, after which it became part of Livonia, and from the middle of the 16th century Zemgale became part of Kurzeme or Kurland. At the very end of the 18th century it became the Kurland province of Russia (which also included Palanga) with its center in Matava (Jelgava).