Latgale is an old land occupying nearly one quarter of Latvia’s territory. About a third of the country’s population is concentrated in this area. Historically the name was associated with the territory stretching to the east of the River Daugava from the border of the land occupied by Livonian tribes till that of Slavic tribes. In the 16th century under the Polish rule the Old Latgale (contemporary Vidzeme and Latgale) bore the name of the Duchy of Pardaugava.
At present Latgale comprises the districts of Balvi, Daugavpils, Kraslavas, Ludzas, Preili and Rezeknes along with the two major cities of Daugavpils and Rezekne. Latgale is often (and rightly) referred to as the Land of blue lakes: Lubanas - the largest lake in Latvia (82.1 sq.m), Dridzis - the deepest lake in the Baltics (maximum depth 63 m.), and Razna - the second largest in Latvia (located near Rezekne) are all found in the region. The lake Ezezers is a unique wildlife reserve with thirty-six islands; the lake Chertok with its peculiarly coloured water is steeped in legends.
Rezekne – the town on seven hills - is a major centre of culture and education in Latvia. Various song festivals regularly take place there and once in two years Rezekne hosts the Latgale Music TV Festival. The status of a special economic area is maintained by the town due to the proximity of three states' borders.
Ludza is located 271 km. to the east of Riga close to the Russian (Pskov Oblast) and Belarusian (Vitebsk Oblast) border. Entrepreneurial activity is somewhat weak in the city which accounts for its environmental friendliness.
Balvi is a small town surrounded by greenery with a particular charm of its own. The town is located between two lakes and extends along the two banks of the Bolupite River. Supposedly, it is to the lakes Balvu and Bolupe that the town owes its name. There is another hypothesis according to which the name of the town originates from the word balva – reward. The name Balvi is equally related to the rebirth of Baal - the god of fertility, clouds, rain and storm.
Kraslava – the Kraslava District is divided by Daugava – the largest river in Latvia. The lion part of the district is located on the right bank of the river, the only exception being Kaplavas rural district. Dubna is the second largest river basin. All in all there are 273 lakes in the district and they take up 5% of the district’s territory. Saleskalns – Sun Mount – is the major point of interest in the area. Apart from being an ancient settlement it is also one of the highest points in Latgale – the hill rises 211 meters high above sea level. In pre-Christian time a pagan temple crested the top of the hill where people used to gather to celebrate Ligo – the day of summer solstice.
How to get there
One can get to Rezekne by taking the train from Riga to Moscow. A diesel train to Zilupe is another option (this train will equally stop at Ludza). The timetable is available on the Latvian railway website.
All the other towns in Latgale can be reached by bus from Riga, please consult the timetable on the bus station website.
Tourist information centres
Ludza - Baznicas 42/11, Ludza, Tel. : +371 570 72, fax : +371 570 72 02 firstname.lastname@example.org
Balvi - Berzpils 1a, Tel. : +371 452 23 56, fax: +371 452 23 56, email@example.com
Rezekne – «Untumi», Spundzani, Ozolmuizas pag., Tel. : +371 463 12 55, fax: +371 463 12 55, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Kraslava - Brivibas 13, Tel. : +371 562 22 01, fax : +371 562 22 66, firstname.lastname@example.org