Exploratory expeditions in Gulbene region in 2021

In 2021, we will continue to explore the natural and cultural heritage in the parishes of Gulbene region.

The project “Exploratory Expeditions” has received support in the cultural project competition “Vidzeme Culture Program 2021 supported by the State Forest and State Cultural Capital Fund” announced by the Vidzeme Planning Region.

The first expedition - on July 17 in BELAVA PARISH.

Despite the hot weather, the expedition members, together with media professionals, landscape design, ethnography and local history enthusiasts, the book "Nepārbraukušie / Nepārtraukušie" as well as the blog author https://ainavudizains.wordpress.com/ Edžus Vējiņi went to explore places and things Beļava . Under the guidance of the expert, we got acquainted with the diverse cultural and historical heritage of Beļava parish, combining traditional objects with unusual ones.

The length of the route is about 35 km.

At the beginning of the expedition, we visited the only oak in Latvia. The tradition of carving the cross was once quite widespread, which has survived for the longest time almost exclusively in Gulbene region.

"The trees of the cross are shrouded in the traditions and contradictory motivations of an unprecedented age and antiquity. When the deceased were led to the graveyard, the funeral procession stopped at the tree of the cross and cut a cross in the trunk so that the dead soul would not return home from the graveyard. The cross became the dividing line between the two worlds, the land of lingerie and the land. The second, less common motivation is the opposite. They cut the cross so that the soul would know how to find his way home during his laundry. Isn't there a stratification of the Christian religion into an ancient folk religion (paganism) that reverses the oldest indelible tradition? ” (Source: dabasretumi.lv)

We visited the old Latvian homestead "Kalnieši", where, getting to know the story of one family, we got an insight into the life of the people of Beļava parish and, consequently, the history.

Then the road led to Belava manor. It was founded around 1550 by Hans Buchholz. Built in distinct Baroque forms, the stone manor house is the oldest building in the complex, built around 1750 and is one of the oldest manor houses in the Gulbene region, which has survived to the present day.

Belava manor.

In the 1920s, the castle was rebuilt for the needs of the school, and the interior decoration elements of several rooms have been preserved - colored marble slabs in the lobby, wooden stairs, stoves, doors, built-in closets and wall panels.

Tiled stoves in the manor house.

In the basement of the vaulted manor house.

The manor complex also includes several farm and residential buildings, a pond and a large park with plantations of various species of foreign trees and shrubs.

We visited the Belava manor and park, as well as heard a story about the owner of the manor, Magdalene Elizabeth von Hallart - a European personality and the first woman to leave significant traces in the history of the Latvian nation. We learned that she played a special role in the establishment of the Hernhut movement and the Brethren's congregations, which was a decisive turning point in the Latvian national awakening in the 19th century.

The special role of Beļava in the formation of Latvian statehood is evidenced by the fact that in this area there are several houses of the Knights of the Lāčplēsis Order - near the manor - the house of Alfreds Zaķis, further along the path of the painter Voldemārs Irbe

This was followed by a trip to the highest peak of the Gulbene embankment - Kārtene castle mound, which is also one of the historical points of the Strūve geodetic circle in the territory of Latvia.

At the foot of the castle mound you can still see a building typical of Latvian folk construction - a residential barn.

Rija "Burtnieki".

Point of the geodetic arc of Struve.

Current geodetic arc - a system of geodetic points or a triangular chain measured by the triangulation method to determine the size and shape of the globe. The circle was measured between 1816 and 1855.

In 2005, the Struve Circle was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique, longest and most accurate system of geodetic surveys of its time, an outstanding testimony to the history of science and technology of its time.

View from Kārtene castle mound.

Next, the road led to the almost 20-meter-high Kartene lookout tower, which overlooks the picturesque landscape with Lake Pinteelis or Lisa.

View of Lake Pintelis or Lisa, at the bottom of which there is an archeological monument of national significance - Lake Lisa Castle.

After a break at the observation tower, we went for a walk about 1 km to "Ābeļi", listening to the story of the sunken lake castle on Lake Lisa and how the remarkable local researcher Jānis Kučers described the place.

Wall painting stencils in "Ābeļi". This craft tradition has almost completely disappeared today.

This was followed by a trip from "Ābeļi" to Vanagi, where we went on foot again from the hill to Vanagi juniper and back. This is one of the TOP junipers in Latvia. We learned to measure a tree, we listened to a story about how to look for and care for big trees.

Hawk juniper.

Next, the road led along Vecvanags and Kuzma to Lete, where there is another house related to the history of Latvia - “Vecletes” - the home of Aleksandrs Žīgurs, a knight of the Lāčplēsis Order.

Former zoo in Letes.

At the end of the expedition - after a walk through the territory of the former zoo, the participants of the expedition discovered which, in their opinion, were the most interesting objects. The tradition of carving was of the greatest interest

The second expedition - on August 14 in STRADU PARISH.

Elēna Obrumāne, a teacher at Stāķi Primary School and the creator of the local history exposition, shared her knowledge and told stories during this expedition.

Stradu parish is unusual in that other settlements - Stāķi and Šķieneri - have outgrown the place that gave the parish - Stradus. The parish was established after the Second World War from different parts of the parishes, so its formation and growth is unconventional.

The approximate length of the route is 65 km.

In the first part of the expedition we went to Stakai, first stopping at the Pastor's House, where we heard a story about the history of the Pastor's House and the Friendship School. Already in 1820 there was a rectory here, but this building was built in 1900, when it was put into operation for the use of the pastor's family.

Vecgulbene Lutheran parish historical pastoral house. The scaly cladding of the building.

Next, the road led to the cultural place that won the “Kilograms of Culture 2018” award - Šķieneri stop or Šķietura.

Shuttle stop.

Post - industrial heritage in.

In Stakai and Šķieneri in the 20th century. The buildings of the seventies and eighties were formed around the Soviet-era "Lauktehniku", "Movable Mechanized Column" and other companies.

After passing through the once active, industrial district in Šķieneri, we went down the alley to Stāķi, to Stāķi Primary School, where an exposition of local history has been created.

Getting to know the Stāķi local history exposition.

The exposition contains more than 1000 exhibits about the economic activities and cultural and historical heritage of Stradu parish. They describe the impact of different historical eras on the lives of local people. The exposition includes tools, interior items, banknotes, textbooks, press, photos, etc.

Stak Primary School.

On the way to the park, we visited the Stāķi Sports Hall, where the youth center "Ligzda" is located.

Next, the road led to Stāķi Park, where a unique environmental object was opened in 2019 within the project “Art Park” - the Nature Living Room. It was created by artist Linda Riņķe, craftsman Arvis Rubenis, together with like-minded people and supporters.

We also visited the new nature object in Stāķi Park, which was created this summer. The object was created in cooperation with the Metal Design Department of the Latvian Academy of Arts, it was made in honor of amateur art and gives an opportunity to look at the heart from different angles.

After visiting the park and a little rest, we drove to explore Stradu.

Going further, we stopped at "Priednieki", with the kind permission of the owners, to see the building built of unusual bricks. The origin of these bricks is not clear - whether they were specially ordered or whether the owner owned a brick kiln at that time.


The building has its own story - it was built in the years before the Second World War, it was the first place where electricity was connected at that time. There was both a collective farm office with a plaque of honor and the first library in Strados (founded in 1951), a dentist, and the first kindergarten of the collective farm.

The next stop was Stradu Primary School, the history of which was told to us by Anna Vīgante, a former history teacher at Stradu Primary School and chairman of the parish council.

The school has been here for 64 years since 1944. The historical name of Stradu Primary School is the incomplete secondary school of the Cross in Vecgulbene Parish. Stradu Primary School was closed in 2008.

In 1995, the event of the European Cultural Heritage Days “Wooden Heritage in Latvia” took place on the banks of the Pededze, in the yard of Vecdziesnieki, near the birthplace of the founder of the Latvian artistic ornament Jūlijs Madernieks “Vecmadernieki”. Unfortunately, the buildings are no longer preserved.

The road led to "Mežsēti" - a deer farm, which is located on an area of about 200 hectares around the middle stream of Pededze.

Not only deer, but also ponies and dwarf goats can be found in the deer garden "Mežsētas".

We visited a wonderful place to relax by Lake Kalnis. The lake is quite popular among anglers. It has an average depth of 1.8 meters and a maximum depth of 4.9 meters. There are forests all around, where it is possible to go on longer hikes.

Monument in the place of remembrance of the national partisans "Mosses".

At the end of the expedition, everyone visited the memorial site of the national partisans "Moss", listening to a recording of the memory of the former national partisan Teodors Burķītis.

The third expedition - September 11 in LEJASCIEMA PARISH.

In an effort to capture the rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage offered by one of Latvia's largest parishes, we invited two experts this time. We explored the values and objects of nature under the guidance of Jura Zaķis , a geologist who wrote the book “Taimira - the land beyond the Arctic Circle”, “Lejasciems in the rivers and time circles”, “At the source of the Gauja”. Parish library manager and history teacher Inta Balode .

The approximate length of the route is 55 km.

We started the expedition with a tour of the Robežkalns boulder. The piece of granite rock that left Scandinavia is located on the bank of the Gauja, its volume is 12 cubic meters.

Boundary hill boulder.

Then we went to Krāči castle mound. It is located on the left bank of the Gauja near the Krāči House, 2.5 km southwest of Sinole. The castle mound was discovered and described in more detail by local researcher Jānis Kučers in 1961.

“Two fragments of spindle-turned vertebrae and disc-free, plastered and smooth pottery have been found in the castle mound, which can be attributed to m. ē. J. Kučers wrote that fragments of stone axes were also found in the castle mound, however, no such finds were found in the museum. ” (Source: latvijas-pilskalni.lv)

Further along the picturesque road we went in the direction of Sinole, stopping at Cepļakalns pine.

Cepļakalns big pine.

We stayed in Sinole for a while, listening to stories related to the history of Sinole mill, which were told to us by Maira Lukina, the head of the Lejasciems Parish Library.

Sinole watermill. They were built in 1872.

Further on, the road led to the beautiful and now, unfortunately, abandoned Māli manor. Until the autumn of 2019, the Clay Library of Lejasciems Parish was located in this building.


Mālmuiža is mentioned in historical sources already in 1429. Only the 19th century has survived from it to the present day. manor house, barn and servants' house built at the end of the 19th century. The two-storey manor house uses both brick and wood construction techniques, and the facade is decorated with decorative carvings. The interior of the building has a wooden staircase and a white tiled stove.

After visiting Mālmuiža, we went to Lejasciems, where we tried to get an insight and see the cultural and historical objects of Lejasciems in a very short time. Lejasciems was once proud of its status as the smallest city in Latvia (from 1928 to 1939, Lejasciems was a city). In 1944, a large part of the historical center of Lejasciems was destroyed, including a church designed by architect Konstantin Peksen.

When visiting Lejasciems, it is possible to get to know it without the help of a guide - there are signs with a picture and information of the building next to the Lejasciems buildings. The flower fairy path of the writer Anna Saxe has also been created in Lejasciems.

The house of the writer Tirzmaliete.

Her family moved from Tirza to Lejasciems in the spring of 1912.

The first owner of this beautiful house at Rīgas Street 3 was Pauline Anderson, the widow of Anderson, the former manager of Sinole Manor.