Jelgava, Latvia

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Jelgava, Latvia

Region: Jelgava, Latvia

Geographic Coordinates: 56.648300, 23.713900
Population: 55336
Language: Latvian

Jelgava, Also known as the Ducal City, Is a vibrant and historically rich destination located in central Latvia. Situated on the banks of the Lielupe River, Jelgava is the fourth-largest city in the country and serves as an important cultural and educational hub. With its fascinating blend of architectural wonders, Lush green spaces, And intriguing history, Jelgava offers visitors a unique travel experience. One of Jelgava’s most iconic landmarks is undoubtedly the impressive Jelgava Palace. Built in the 18th century for the Dukes of Courland, This grand Baroque-style palace stands majestically amidst beautifully landscaped gardens.

Although partially destroyed during World War II, It has been meticulously restored to its former glory and now houses both a university and several museums. For nature enthusiasts, Jelgava boasts numerous parks that provide serene retreats within the city limits. The Livonian Order Castle Park offers picturesque walking paths along with remnants of medieval castle ruins. The Pasta Island Park provides a tranquil escape with its charming river views and well-manicured lawns perfect for picnicking or leisurely strolls. History buffs will be captivated by Jelgava’s rich past.

The city was once home to one of Europe’s most prestigious universities – Academia Petrina – which attracted scholars from all over Europe during its heyday in the 17th century. Today, Visitors can explore this historical site through guided tours or visit exhibitions showcasing artifacts from that era. The Holy Trinity Church stands tall as another prominent landmark in Jelgava’s skyline. This beautiful neo-Gothic church dates back to 1577 but has undergone several reconstructions over time due to various disasters such as fires and wars. Its towering spire offers panoramic views of the cityscape from above.

Journeying outside of downtown Jelgava allows travelers to discover the serene rural landscapes that surround the city. The nearby Kemeri National Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers, Offering vast wetlands, Pristine forests, And therapeutic mineral springs. Visitors can explore the park’s numerous hiking trails or relax in one of its traditional Latvian saunas. In terms of cultural experiences, Jelgava hosts various festivals and events throughout the year. The annual Jelgava City Festival celebrates the city’s heritage with music concerts, Art exhibitions, And lively street performances.

Additionally, The city’s theater scene offers a range of performances from classical plays to contemporary productions. Overall, Jelgava is a captivating Latvian city that seamlessly blends history and natural beauty. With its stunning architectural landmarks like Jelgava Palace and Holy Trinity Church combined with its lush parks and proximity to nature reserves like Kemeri National Park, This charming destination offers something for every traveler seeking an enriching cultural experience in Latvia.

Important Landmarks

  1. Jelgava Palace: This is the main attraction in Jelgava and one of the most significant Baroque-style palaces in Latvia. It was once the residence of the Dukes of Courland and Semigallia.
  2. Holy Trinity Church: Located near Jelgava Palace, this church is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful interior decorations.
  3. Pasta Island: Situated on the Lielupe River, Pasta Island is a popular recreational area with walking paths, picnic spots, and a small beach.
  4. The Latvian Railway History Museum: This museum showcases the history of railways in Latvia through various exhibits including vintage locomotives, carriages, and photographs.
  5. The Duke Jacob’s Square: This central square is named after Duke Jacob Kettler who founded Jelgava as his residence city. It features a statue dedicated to him.
  6. St.Simeon’s and St.Anne’s Orthodox Cathedral: A beautiful Russian Orthodox cathedral with impressive architecture that stands out among other religious buildings in Jelgava.
  7. The House of Aspazija: A historic wooden building that was once home to Aspazija – one of Latvia’s most prominent poets – now converted into a museum showcasing her life and work.
  8. Victory Park (Uzvaras Parks): A large park located near Jelgava Palace where visitors can enjoy walking trails, playgrounds, sports facilities, and open-air concerts during summer months.
  9. The Latvian Agricultural Museum (Latvijas Lauksaimniecības muzejs): Located just outside of Jelgava city center, this museum offers insight into agricultural traditions with displays on farming equipment, pastoral life, and rural culture.
  10. Jurmalciems Beach: A popular sandy beach located on the coast of the Gulf of Riga, about 20 km from Jelgava. It offers a peaceful retreat and scenic views of the Baltic Sea.

Primary Industries

  1. Food Processing: Jelgava is known for its strong food processing industry, particularly in dairy products. The city is home to several large dairy companies such as Food Union and Balticovo, which process milk and produce various dairy products.
  2. Agriculture: The surrounding region of Jelgava is characterized by fertile agricultural land, making agriculture an important industry in the area. Farms in Jelgava focus on growing crops like cereals, vegetables, fruits, and berries.
  3. Manufacturing: Jelgava has a significant manufacturing sector that includes various industries such as metalworking, machinery production, furniture manufacturing, textile production, and chemical processing.
  4. Education: With its well-established educational institutions like the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LLU), Jelgava has developed into an education hub attracting students from across Latvia and abroad.
  5. Construction: The construction industry plays a vital role in Jelgava’s economy due to ongoing infrastructure development projects within the city and its surroundings.
  6. Logistics & Transportation: Situated at a strategic location near major highways and railways connecting Riga (the capital city) with other regions of Latvia and neighboring countries like Lithuania and Estonia; logistics companies have established their presence in Jelgava to facilitate transportation services.
  7. Retail & Services: As one of the largest cities in Latvia with a growing population base, retail stores ranging from local shops to supermarkets serve consumer needs across various sectors including clothing appliances electronics groceries etc., Additionally service-oriented businesses such as banking institutions are also present to cater to financial requirements.

These are some of the major industries/businesses found within Jelgava; however it’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive as there may be other smaller-scale enterprises operating in the city.

Noteable History

  1. Jelgava Palace: The city is famous for its magnificent Baroque-style Jelgava Palace, also known as Mitau Castle. It was the residence of the Dukes of Courland and Semigallia and served as their main seat from the 17th to the 18th century.
  2. Ernst Johann von Biron: One of the most prominent figures in Jelgava’s history is Ernst Johann von Biron (1690-1772). He was a German nobleman who became Duke of Courland and Semigallia and held considerable influence in Russian politics as a favorite of Empress Anna Ivanovna.
  3. University of Jelgava: The city is home to the University of Jelgava, established in 1864 as an agricultural institute. It has played a significant role in Latvian education and research.
  4. World War I: During World War I, Jelgava witnessed several battles between German and Russian forces due to its strategic location near Riga. The city suffered extensive damage during this period.
  5. Independence Movement: After World War I, Latvia gained independence from Russia in 1918. Several notable figures from Jelgava played key roles in this movement, including Kārlis Ulmanis (1877-1942), who later became Latvia’s Prime Minister.
  6. Soviet Occupation: In 1940, following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union, Latvia was occupied by Soviet forces until 1991 when it regained independence from the USSR.
  7. Agricultural Heritage: Due to its fertile lands surrounding River Lielupe, Jelgava has long been associated with agriculture and farming traditions. The city hosts an annual agricultural exhibition called Zemnieku saimniecība (Farmer’s Estate) showcasing the latest developments in farming.
  8. Latvian War Museum: Jelgava is home to the Latvian War Museum, which preserves and exhibits artifacts related to Latvia’s military history, including weapons, uniforms, and documents.

These are just a few notable historical events and people associated with Jelgava. The city has a rich cultural heritage and continues to be an important center for education, agriculture, and historical preservation in Latvia.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Jelgava Palace: This stunning Baroque-style palace is the main attraction in Jelgava. Explore its grand halls, art exhibitions, and beautiful gardens.
  2. Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies Botanical Garden: Take a leisurely stroll through this picturesque garden, which features a wide variety of plant species from Latvia and around the world.
  3. Jelgava History and Art Museum: Learn about the history and culture of Jelgava through various exhibits showcasing archaeological finds, historical artifacts, and contemporary art.
  4. Holy Trinity Church: Visit this impressive Lutheran church with its distinctive red-brick exterior and intricate interior design.
  5. Pasta Island (Pastas Sala): Enjoy a walk or picnic on this small island located in the middle of the Lielupe River, offering scenic views of Jelgava’s skyline.
  6. Peter’s Market (Pētera Tirgus): Explore this vibrant market where you can find local produce, traditional Latvian crafts, clothing, souvenirs, and delicious street food.
  7. The Open-Air Exhibition The World for Everyone: Located near Pasta Island, this outdoor exhibition showcases sculptures created by artists from different countries around the world.
  8. Memorial Ensemble Three Stars: Pay your respects at this memorial dedicated to Latvian soldiers who died during World War I while defending their homeland.
  9. House of Aspazija: Visit the former home of one of Latvia’s most prominent poets and playwrights – Aspazija – which now serves as a museum dedicated to her life and work.
  10. Stadiona Park: Relax in this green oasis located near Jelgava Palace with walking paths, playgrounds for children, sports facilities, and a lake where you can rent paddleboats during summer months.

These are just some examples of places worth visiting in Jelgava; there are many more attractions and hidden gems to discover in this charming Latvian city.

Sports Teams

  1. FK Jelgava (Football/Soccer): FK Jelgava is a professional football club founded in 2003. They currently compete in the Latvian Higher League, which is the top tier of Latvian football. The team has had success in recent years, winning the Latvian Cup twice (in 2010 and 2015) and finishing as runners-up in the league on multiple occasions.
  2. HK Zemgale/JLSS (Ice Hockey): HK Zemgale/JLSS represents Jelgava and surrounding areas in ice hockey competitions. The team was established in 2004 and competes primarily at the lower levels of Latvian ice hockey leagues.
  3. BK Jēkabpils / Jēkabpils Lūši (Basketball): Although not based directly in Jelgava, these basketball teams have a significant following from the city’s residents due to proximity. BK Jēkabpils was founded in 1998 and has participated mainly in lower-tier basketball leagues within Latvia.
  4. VK Zemgale/VK Ogres Zemessardze (Volleyball): VK Zemgale, also known as VK Ogres Zemessardze, represents both Ogres and Jelgava regions in volleyball competitions within Latvia.

These are just a few examples of sports teams with connections to Jelgava, Latvia. It’s worth noting that smaller or amateur clubs may exist for various other sports disciplines as well within the city’s sporting community.

Cultural Events

  1. Jelgava City Festival: This annual festival takes place in August and celebrates the city’s history, culture, and traditions. It includes various performances, concerts, exhibitions, food stalls, and fireworks.
  2. Latvian Song Festival: Held every five years in different cities across Latvia, the Latvian Song Festival is a significant event for Latvians. It features large-scale choir performances of traditional Latvian songs and dances.
  3. Jelgava Palace Park Summer Festival: This summer festival offers a variety of cultural events such as open-air concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibitions, workshops, and outdoor movie screenings.
  4. Jelgava Baroque Music Festival: Dedicated to promoting Baroque music heritage in Latvia and Europe, this festival showcases concerts performed by local musicians as well as international guests.
  5. Autumn Chamber Music Days: Organized by the Academy of Music (JVLMA) in collaboration with other institutions in Jelgava, this festival presents chamber music concerts featuring both classical compositions and contemporary works.
  6. Christmas Market: During the holiday season (December), Jelgava hosts a Christmas market where visitors can enjoy festive decorations while shopping for handmade crafts or tasting traditional foods like gingerbread cookies or mulled wine.
  7. International Ice Sculpture Festival: Held annually during winter months (usually January), this event features stunning ice sculptures created by talented artists from around the world. Visitors can admire these frozen artworks while enjoying live music performances on ice stages.

Please note that some events may vary from year to year or have specific dates that are subject to change; therefore it is advisable to check official websites or local sources for up-to-date information before planning your visit to any specific event or festival in Jelgava.


  1. Grey Peas with Bacon (Pelēkie zirņi ar speķi): This traditional Latvian dish consists of boiled grey peas served with fried bacon, often accompanied by pickles or sauerkraut.
  2. Rye Bread Soup (Rupjmaizes zupa): A hearty soup made from rye bread, usually combined with onions, potatoes, carrots, and sometimes meat.
  3. Jelgava Cheese (Jelgavas siers): A locally produced cheese famous for its distinct taste and texture. It is often enjoyed on its own or used as an ingredient in various dishes.
  4. Restaurant Lido: Located near the Jelgava Palace, this popular restaurant offers a wide selection of Latvian cuisine including traditional dishes like grey peas with bacon and rye bread soup.
  5. Restaurant Pūteļkrogs: Situated in a charming wooden building, this restaurant serves traditional Latvian food along with international options. It is known for its cozy atmosphere and friendly service.
  6. Café Kafijas nams: This café is renowned for its delicious pastries and cakes along with a variety of coffee options. It’s an ideal spot to relax while enjoying some sweet treats.
  7. Brewery Alus darbnīca Labietis: For beer enthusiasts, Labietis Brewery offers a unique experience to taste craft beers brewed on-site using local ingredients infused with innovative flavors.

Parks and Recreation

  1. Jelgava Palace Park: This park surrounds the historic Jelgava Palace and offers beautiful gardens, walking paths, and a lake. It’s a great place for a leisurely stroll or picnic.
  2. Pasta Island: Located on the Lielupe River, Pasta Island is a popular spot for outdoor activities such as cycling, jogging, and picnicking. It also has children’s playgrounds and sports fields.
  3. Zemgale Olympic Center: This sports complex offers various recreational activities including swimming pools, ice skating rinks, tennis courts, basketball courts, and fitness facilities.
  4. Lielupe Riverside Promenade: A scenic promenade along the banks of the Lielupe River that provides a great setting for walking or cycling while enjoying views of nature.
  5. Akademijas Garden: Situated near Jelgava University campus, this garden features beautiful flowerbeds and green spaces ideal for relaxation or outdoor study sessions.
  6. Zemgales Olympic Center Beach: During summer months (typically from June to August), locals can enjoy sunbathing and swimming at the artificial beach located within the Zemgale Olympic Center complex.
  7. Adazi Forest Park: Although not directly in Jelgava but nearby (approximately 20 km away), Adazi Forest Park is an excellent option for nature lovers offering hiking trails amidst lush forests with picnic areas available as well.

These are just some examples of public parks and recreational activities in Jelgava; there may be other smaller parks or cultural events taking place throughout the year as well.


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