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History of Ainazi

10.03.2011 10:01

Ainazi existed for centuries as a Livonian fishing village. The town itself was first mentioned in 1564, and through the ages, changed hands among various barons and estates. Ainazi entered a great period of growth in the 1870s, when its history of shipbuilding and seafaring began.

In  the 19th century, Vidzeme and Kurzeme were covered with vast forests of pine trees. Ainazi's strategic position on the sea and proximity to lumber made it a perfect place for ship building. In 1864 Krisjanis Valdemars sponsored the first nautical school in Latvia, training young Estonian and Latvian farmers to become ship captains for free. The school stood for 50 years until it was destroyed in World War I. With the opening of the school and shipbuilding industry, Ainazi grew for the rest of the 19th century. From 1857 to 1913, over 50 seaworthy vessels were built in the town, and in 1902 a working port and railway station opened. By World War I, Ainazi was the fourth largest port in all of Latvia and chief in Vidzeme, overtaking neighboring Salacgriva. The town also had its own windmills, fish-processing plant, and brick kiln.

In World War I Ainazi was heavily damaged. The port was ruined and the entire shipping fleet destroyed. In February 1919, the Estonian army drove the Germans from Ainazi and subsequently occupied it. After the war, Ainazi fell into Latvian territory, even though the majority of the population was Estonian, but Estonia's troops remained stationed there until 1920 and Estonia kept the northern section "Ikla".

In the first Republic of Latvia (1918–1940) Ainazi was revitalized. The Ainazi fleet, sunken in the war, had completely barricaded the harbor and had to be removed. The harbor was then deepened, and the port was rebuilt in 1923 with new breakers. In 1930 the Ainazi lighthouse was built.

In World War II, however, Ainazi was destroyed again. The second naval academy burned down, the port was bombed, and the warehouses were plundered. Though the port was partially rebuilt in Soviet times, Ainazi was overshadowed by nearby Pärnu, and lost its fish-processing factory to Salacgriva.

After Latvia's independence was restored in 1991, a wind turbine was built in Ainazi as well as a customs house on the Estonian border. Today the building of the nautical school hosts a museum, the Ainazi  Naval school, dedicated to the history of the school and the tradition of shipbuilding along the Vidzeme coast.

 
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Salacgrīva municipality council

Smilšu street 9, Salacgrīva

Salacgrīva municipality, LV - 4033

Reg. Nr. 90000059796

PVN Reg. Nr. LV90000059796

phone - 64071973, fax - 64071993

e-mail: dome@salacgriva.lv

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