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Aleksejs, Aleksis

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History Of Salacgriva

10.03.2011 08:03

It has found its location at the estuary of the biggest and most picturesque river of Northern Vidzeme, the Salaca, where it flows into the Baltic Sea. The old version is Salismünde. There is an old tale written down by a German historian August Wilhelm Hupel about German traders how they first landed at the Salaca and traded with local people. Only then they reached the Daugava.

Already in prehistoric times this region, which is rich in forests and waters was territory inhabited by the Livs. This nation had always lived near rivers and the sea because their main occupation was fishing. Livs named themselves “kala medu” fishermen and “randulistu” a person residing at the seashore, but Latvians were called “mameed” peasants. Both Nations never had any arguments because they had their own occupations the ones had the sea, but the others the land. But the presice place of the first Liv settlement has not been dated until now. But 10 km eastwards from Salacgriva (Salacgrīva) on the right bank of the Svetupe (Svētupe) near Kuikuli (Kuiķuļi) house one can find the unique Liv Sacrifice cave (Līvu upuralas) in the Baltic. It has been the central cult place of a large territory inhabited by the Livs. The coins and different antiquities used for religious purposes found there trace back to the 14th up to the beginning of the 19th centuries.

The first written document which gives records about the Salaca is the Livonian chronicle of the 13th century. It shows the Salaca as a place lying on the crossroads of significant ancient trade routes. From here one could travel to the north to Estonia, or up the river to the Burtnieku lake (Burtnieku ezers). Therefore this was the place where different armed forces gathered and prepared for battles.

The castle mound is regarded the most ancient spot of the town. It lies in the distance of 0,5km from the sea. In 1226 only 25 years after foundation of Riga (Rīga) city bishop Albert built a stone castle here. He owned 22 castles, but this one had the acces to the whole Salaca basin from the sea, the so called Salaca gate and was the only sea port owned by the bishop.

During several centuries the owners of the castle changed. It passed now into the hands of German Order, now Russians, now Swedes and Poles. The castle suffered in many wars. At the end of the 17th century there were only ruins left. In the 17th and 18th centuries the most inhabited place was Vecsalaca estate, which gave the name to the whole district. The estate became well known under its owner baron Fersen who possessed the largest collection of art in Vidzeme. The baron had organized a seafaring museum in the castle ruins.

Salacgriva began to develop about 1870 on the territory of Vecsalaca and Stevciems estates. In this period of time due to the thriving coastal trade in the Baltic Sea Salacgriva port became an important timber and grain trading point in Northern Vidzeme. Annually about 160 sailing ships entered the port. In port roadstead about 2 km from the shore Riga – Parnu (Pärnu) traffic steamers stopped. From 1859 to 1929 18 sailing ships were built in Salacgriva, one ship in Kuivizi (Kuiviži) – former coastal fishermen village, now the territory of the town. When the czarist government built the port in Ainazi (Ainaži) in 1903, but in 1912 the railway Ainazi – Valmiera was built, the product delivery to Salacgriva decreased. It lost its opportunities to be extended as it had been expected. But nevertheless Salacgriva  with its nearest territory became the fishing centre of Vidzeme. There were other important sources of income as farming and floating timber on the Salaca.

In 1921 Salacgriva gained the rights of a small village, but in 1928 with 11th February act of the Saeima the rights of the town. In the coat of arms of the town there is the silver colour Salaca on a red background, which flows into the silver colour sea. The anchor in the middle symbolizes the sea and joins both the banks of the river. In the sitting of Town Council 61 street names were affirmed, but the only real acknowledged street was the cobbled Riga street, which passed the Town Hall, chemist’s bakery and several shops up to the river crossing. Later in the summer season it was replaced by a wooden bridge, which was made anew every spring. While crossing the bridge the drivers paid taxes up to 5 santimes. The new concrete bridge was built in 1961.

On May 13th 1928 the conferment of city rights was celebrated with a church service, festive parade, sports competitions and a party. The memories of this remarkable event are represented by the trees planted by the inhabitants on the castle mound and near the Social gathering house. In 1921 the secondary school was opened in Salacgriva, that later became the grammar school where three foreign languages were taught – English, German and Russian. It existed until 1934. The cultural and social life of the town, were organized by Lutheran parish and the Ladies’ Committee of the Fireman Society.

During the Soviet occupation in 1949 the fishermen collective farm “Brīvais Vilnis” was founded. Large building activities were performed. The originally in Ainazi envisaged fish cannery was built in Salacgriva, public buildings and dwelling houses were built, the harbour was renewed. A new industrial branch was developing fish processing.

In the second week in July celebrated Fishermen Festival has become a tradition taking place at the port and on the open air stage near the sea. In the years after regained independence a new period in the development of the town began. The year 1998 was very significant. Salacgriva was one of the first communities joining with the neighboring territory Salaca rural district. Work on building the museum began. Salacgriva had its 82nd anniversary, but enough for looking forward to the future and be aware of its past.

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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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