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Liepaja (Latvia)

Twin City since 1993

General information

The City of Liepaja is twinned with Darmstadt since 1993. Liepaja (in German Libau) developed out of the tiny fisher village of Liva, created where the river with the same name empties into the Baltic. The place was first mentioned in historic sources from the year 1253, as a harbour in possession of the German Order of Knights. On the 18th of March 1625, Liepaja received the rights of a town and accepted as its coat of arms a lime tree and a lion. Liepaja is located in a beautiful area, 213 kilometres away from the capital of Riga in the south-western part of Latvia, on a promontory between the Baltic and the Lake Liepaja. Today the town counts 86,000 inhabitants and is the third largest city of Latvia.

The town's growth has ever been marked by the port and the permanent competition with other seaports in Latvia (Ventspils and Riga). The destruction by wars and fires influenced the town's development just as much as the frequent changes of governments in Latvia, until far into the 20th century. During the period of Soviet occupation, Liepaja lost its international importance as a port. But the town has an ice-free harbour, and today it can offer one of the most attractive transit routes for freighters from West to East.

The townscape is mainly characterized by the buildings of the German architect Max Paul Bertschy (1872-1902), a disciple of Schinkel. He produced the plans for some important buildings in the city, such as the Town Hall, the Museum for Art and History, an the Trinity Church.
The Protestant Trinity Church was built in the time between 1742 and 1758 and is one of the most significant buildings of late Baroque. The interior design even includes elements of Rococo. There is also the biggest mechanical organ in Europe, very impressive in its enormous sound.

The city is distinguished by a vibrant business life, and it also looks back on a long tradition of manufacturing and trade. Both textile and food industry and businesses of metal and wood-processing are established here.

Liepaja is a town where music and culture are at home. The public is being entertained by a professional drama theatre, by puppet theatres, symphonic orchestras and the festival of pop music "Amber of Liepaja". Many Darmstadt music groups have already participated in international contests at Liepaja.

The town has a very special charm for its combination of historical buildings and the wonderful location directly on the Baltic. Since the 18th century, Liepaja has been well-known as a popular spa. Something for everybody is offered here, be it education or recreation at the town’s white sandy beach.