From the history of Jelgava - Mitava

A small and blissful land… It reflects its own history like a drop of amber.

Like every country Latvia has its own special fate, its own guardian angel, a special divine intention about it and its people.

The city of Jelgava that we now want to tell about, in the past – Mitava, is situated on the banks of River Lielupe (earlier called Buļļupe), within 45 km from the Latvian capital - Riga. Latvian people have lived here for centuries. This land, situated on the course of an ancient trading route “from the varyags (Scandinavians) to the Greeks”, was a place of active trade between Slavs and Western Europe.

The fortified settlement of Mitava was founded in 1226. In 1561 Mitava became the residence of the dukes of Courland.

After Courland was annexed to Russia in 1795, Mitava became the central town of the Governorate of Courland.

Russians have lived in Mitava since times immemorial and formed a substantial part of the population of the duchy along with Germans, Jews, Latvians and the Polish people.

Many notable people left their mark in the history of the town.

In 1697 Russian Tsar Peter I spent several weeks in the Mitava castle. In 1701 the castle was taken by Carl XII, the king of Sweden. Ludwig XVIII lived in Mitava from 1805 until 1807, but in 1812 the Marshal of France MacDonald made it his main wartime residence. His army besieged Riga but was unable to take it.

The famous architect Rastrelli built magnificent palace of Rundale. Wagner and Schumann gave concerts in its beautiful rooms. Even today visitors are impressed by the opulence of the palace.

The visible milestones of the history are simple.

The spiritual milestones of this land, blessed since ancient times by ardent prayers of the orthodox Christians, are hidden.

But the human soul is Christian and it is able to trace the most important in the historical way of the people and it rejoices, seeing cupolas of the orthodox churches of Latvia.

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