Discovering Jelgava’s Hidden Gems: A Tourist’s Perspective
The history and natural beauty of Jelgava attract tourists to visit the city. As four regions of Latvia have their characters and tradition, Jelgava also has its specialties. You can explore the city on a one-day trip while enjoying its beauty.
Jelgava is on the Lielupe River southwest of Riga, historically known as German Mitau or Russian Mitava. The Brothers of the Sword, a military and religious order, constructed the castle of Mitau there in 1226. Town status was conferred on the settlement in 1376. When the Brothers of the Sword were disbanded in 1561, it became the seat of the Courland dukes, and in the Third Partition of Poland in 1795, it was passed to Russia.
The city sustained significant damage during World War I and II in 1919 and 1944. Today, this city is a railroad hub and an industrial city that produces agricultural and other machinery, locks, linen, and processing sugar, vegetables, and other foodstuffs.
How to reach Jelgava
You can reach Latvia by plane, train, bus, car, or ferry across the Baltic Sea. The main airport of Latvia is Riga International Airport, the largest airport in Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). Riga International Airport operates flights to Riga from over 85 cities and is also the central hub of Air Baltic.
From Riga, you can get to Jelgava by bus or by train.
From Riga International Bus Station, minibusses leave every 10 -15 minutes. It takes around 50 minutes to reach the city, and the ticket price is Euro 2.30. You can get information about buses from this link.
Trains from Riga to Jelgava start at Riga Railway Station once an hour. A trip takes about 50 minutes, and the tickets cost Euro 1.90. Get details of trains from this link.
The city has comfortable and partly cloudy summers; its winters are long, freezing, snowy, windy, and mostly cloudy. The temperature varies typically from 20°F to 73°F and is rarely below 2°F or above 82°F.
The warm season is between the end of May and early September, with an average daily high temperature above 64°F. The hottest month is July, with an average high of 72°F and a low of 56°F.
The cold season starts in the middle of November and lasts till mid of March, with an average daily high temperature below 38°F. The coldest month of Jelgava is January, with an average low of 22°F and a high of 30°F.
So, if you plan to do warm weather activities here, the best time to visit is from late June to late August.
Things to see in Jelgava
The exquisite Jelgava Palace is one of the best places you must see. It’s a magnificent sight on an island between the Driksa and Lielupe rivers. Its late Baroque design sharpens the Palace’s beauty, and is also the enormous Baroque-style Palace in the Baltic states. The Palace is the most outstanding work of famous Russian court architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
The Jelgava Palace is the former residence of Courland and Zemgale dukes, and now it is the house of Latvia’s University of Agriculture with 7000 students.
Several castles have been constructed here, beginning in 1265 with a timber stronghold for the Livonian Order. But the Duke of Courland made this mansion in 1771, and when the Russian Empire arrived, it was converted into the governor’s residence. It was periodically demolished and rebuilt over the following years, with the most recent significant refurbishment being in 1961.
The museum, established in 1968, reflects the history of the Order of Livonia Castle (13th century), the building process of Jelgava Palace, and interesting facts about historical research and maintenance of the Palace.
Holy Trinity Church
The Holy Trinity Tower is the best place to have an overview of the whole city of Jelgava. Therefore, it is a main attraction of the city. Though it seems like a simple 50-meter tower, it has several interesting places to see.
The Holy Trinity Church was built in 1574, and at that time, it was the largest church in the Zemgale region. The church was destroyed during World War II. But its tower remains. The Bell Tower was restored in 2010. The top has a glass roof which can see the 360 degrees view of the city. An exhibition hall shows the region’s history, traditional clothing, and culture. Also, you can find a pretty expensive restaurant and a tourism information center inside the tower.
The Pedestrian Bridge Mitava
The pedestrian Bridge Mitava is the longest pedestrian and bicycle Bridge in Latvia, and it connects the city center of Jelgava with Pasta Island. This bridge has sightseeing platforms in which you can enjoy the surroundings. Pasta Island hosts the famous Ice and Sand Sculptures’ Festivals. This is one of the best places to visit in summer, as there are various activities in summer.
The architecture of this bridge gives a unique character to the city with the beautiful fountain boats parked in the water.
St. Simeon’s and St. Anna’s Orthodox Cathedral
The St. Simeon’s and St. Anna’s Orthodox Cathedral was constructed between 1890 and 1892 with Russian Czar Alexander III’s funding. It has a splendid interior which has the characteristics of an orthodox church. There are nine bells in the bell tower, and the giant bell’s weight is 830 kg.
The Orthodox congregation restored this Cathedral between 1993 and 2003 after it had suffered damage during World War II and Soviet times.
This is also a beautiful attraction that most tourists visit during their tour.
History and Art Museum of Gederts Eliass
The History and Art Museum are known by its historical name, “Academia Petrina.” It was the first highest education facility established in Latvia. This building was built in 1775 by the last Duke of Courland and Semigallia − Peter von Biron.
This building was converted to the Museum of Jelgava City in 1952, carrying the name of the great Latvian painter Ģederts Eliass. So, this museum exhibits the critical historical events of Jelgava and its region from ancient times to the present day and paintings of Ģederts Eliass.
Also, you can climb the tower and enjoy the surrounding view from the balcony.
Memorial Museum of Adolfs Alunans
The Father of the Latvian theater’s home, Adolfs Alunans, has been converted into a memorial house.
From 1910 – 1912 Adolfs Alunans lived in this house and was the first professional actor, director, playwright, publicist, and writer of couplets. In this memorial house, you can see more than a thousand original items which remind you of 20th-century romance and maintain the aura created by Ādolfs Alunāns.
Old Town Quarter
You can experience the old town which remains the old wooden buildings. The charming old buildings and the cobbled streets can be seen in the Old Town. It reflects the ancient time of the city.
Lielupe Floodplain Meadows
The Lielupe Floodplain Meadows relax you in the meadow, with a beautiful view by climbing the tower. Also, you can see wild horses that graze in the floodplains.
You can explore the following monuments in the city during your visit, which explain the history and culture of the city.
Monument of Janis Cakste
This is the monument of the first President of Latvia.
Jelgava Time Wheel
They created the 100 Time Wheel to celebrate the centennial of Latvian independence in 2018. Around the circle are ten figures with ten stones representing the 100 tough years Latvia has undergone since. They made the ten figures from reflective metal so that people could see themselves in the struggle.
This is also a worthy spot to see in the city on your visit.
Special Cuisine in Jelgava
Duke Sail (Hercoga Bura)
Make the main course by oven-baking pork marinated in a unique sauce. Serve it with roasted vegetables, red bilberry sauce, horseradish, and caramelized sauerkraut.
Make Charlotte’s Kiss (Šarlotes skūpsts) a dessert by layering egg-curd cream and jelly mousse with two juice flavors. Enhance its mild flavor by adding a mashed fruit-berry sauce.
Jelgava’s Bellini is sea buckthorn juice used for dishes like Dukes Sail and Charlotte’s Kiss.
Restaurants and Cafes in Jelgava
Try delightful cuisines from the following restaurants and cafes on your visit to this amazing city;
- Panoramic Views – This is the restaurant on the 8th floor of the Holy Trinity Tower.
Where to stay in Jelgava
These are hotels you can stay in and also some apartments where you can stay at
- Pretty Apartment
- Charme apartment
- Amazing view apartment
The City Map
This link provides you with the city map.
Explore the city of Jelgava with these facts and enjoy your trip.
- Is Jelgava worth visiting?
The many attractions and sights in Jelgava make your visit worthwhile.
- How old is Jelgava?
Jelgava is located in the Zemgale plain, formed by the end of the Ice Age in the Baltic ice lake. Therefore, it can be inferred that the water covered Jelgava 6-7 thousand years ago.
- Which country is Jelgava?
Jelgava is in the Zemgale region in Latvia, near the Baltic Sea.
- How big is Jelgava?
It is a 23.38 Square meter large city in the Zemgale region.