Talsi – the town of nine hills
Each town has its own charm, spirit and course of history. Each town has its own past, present and future. In Talsi everything is right next to you and everything is full of colours. Town’s nine hills and both lakes are keepers of hundred year old history.
Talsi through ages, even in these modern, fast-living times, have managed to combine today’s urban trends with peacefulness of a small town and the extraordinary charm of Talsi.
For once in your life you have to walk through the town to see, to understand and to breathe the air of history. You have to see the calm rhythm of a working day and the beauty of the nature.
Walk quickly down the paved streets or long staircases, then slower up a hill and then again, down the hill with a faster pace.
And so on form hill to hill, along the both lakes until you have known the story of all nine hills.
In all these centuries Talsi can be compeered to Curonian women, who are restrained, mysterious and hardworking. We see our town like this....
Total area of Town of Talsi is 7.8 km2.
Nine hills - Pilskalns, Ķēniņkalns, Leču kalns, Tiguļu kalns, Sauleskalns, Baznīckalns, Krievragkalns, Vilkmuižas kalns, Dzirnavkalns – create magical sights of buildings and nature that can only be seen in Talsi.
The town is most beautiful when cherry and apple trees blossom. Most anticipated events are: Talsi Celebrations in the first week of July, renewed day of Dižmāra Fair, which is market-day at the end of August, Rally Talsi in May, Days of Art in April and May, Days of Poetry in September, fireworks on Independence Day November 18th, torch procession of the Lāčplēsis Day (Latvian Freedom Fighter Remembrance Day), Song and Dance festival on Sauleskalns open-air stage.
Talsi has one institution of higher education (Talsi branch of School of Business Administration Turība), six comprehensive schools, school of music, school of arts and five preschool educational institutions.
Sport facilities of Talsi are: Talsi Municipality’s School of Sports, Talsi Sports Centre, sports hall, ice-hockey hall, stadiums for football and skate park. Rally Talsi has become well-known in Latvia. Talsi hosts national and European tournaments in basketball and volleyball, as well as, national tournaments in ice-hockey.
Town has two libraries – Talsi Main library and Talsi Children’s library, as well as, Talsi Peoples House, Sauleskalns open-air stage, cinema „Auseklis”, local television, Talsi Regional Museum and Latvian Museum of Agriculture Machinery, children and youth centre. Talsians very actively participate in choirs, folk dance groups, folk ensemble, amateur drama group and brass band.
Talsi has been a town of traders and still larger or smaller shops decorate the streets of the town. Also many manufacturers have successfully started their business in this small town.
Talsi is administrative centre of the whole region; here offices of the government, local government, local entrepreneurs and non-governmental organisations are located.
Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist and Seventh-Day Adventist Churches are located in Talsi, and all confessions organize many inter-faith events.
Description: in a golden field green wreath of oak leaves is held by a nature-coloured arm, which grows from green hill.
Colours of Coat of Arms: green, gold, pink and black (see appendix No.1)
In black-and-white version of Coat of Arms only outlined are visible (see appendix No.2)
The two green horizontal lines are symbolising green hills of Talsi and are separated by thin red line that symbolises Courland. (see appendix No.3)
Flag of Town of Talsi is green-red-green. Proportions of the flag are 2:1. Proportions of flag’s length and width are 2:1.
The flag is double-sided.
At the centre of the flag Talsi coat of arms is displayed. The height if coat of arms is 70% of the height of the flag.
Flag’s colours: dark green, red and colours of Talsi coat of arms.
Talsi - for the first time were mentioned in contract between elders of Curonian tribe and envoy of the Pope of Roman Catholic Church Baldwin von Alna.Historical centre of the town used to located between Lakes Talsi and Vilkmuiža, including streets of Old Town – Ūdens, Kalēju, Dzirnavas, Kalna streets and parts of Laidze and Lielā streets.
At the end of 13th century order of German knights built stone castle, around which feudal manor were constructed. In 15th century German artisans and traders settled here. During the reign of Jacob Kettler, the Duke of Courland and Semigalia, an iron oven was constructed, which led to economic development.
During the course of history Talsi have survived wars, plagues (in 1657 and 1710) and the great fire of 1733.
The 19th century started with a new pace. Already at the end of 18th century Jews were allowed to settle in Talsi.
In 1863 the first elementary school was started and managed by Frīdrihs Feldmanis. In 1873 first private school, also called kreisskola from German Kreisschule, of Talsi region opened its doors. Kārlis Mīlenbahs, famous Latvian linguist, work in this school as a principle from 1881 till 1889. Studies were held in German. In 1887 a school were studies were held in Russian was opened, this school existed until the start of World War I.
In the beginning of 20th century town survived uprisings of December of 1905, terrors of punitive expeditions – approximately 60 buildings were burned down, inhabitants shot. But life in this small town continued and new houses were built.
World War I here started when in 1915 German troops took over the town and population decreased from 5000 to 1100 people. Also year 1919 was harsh, with frequent changes of power between Bolsheviks, Bermontians and Landesweher.
Russian Provisional Government granted town rights to Talsi in 1917, but peaceful life here started only in 1920. Talsi were and remained town of artisans and traders, were in each house a small shop could be found. Population of Talsi in year 1935 was 4116 people (82% Latvians, 12% Jews and 3% Germans).
From 1913, when Latvian Society House was built, Talsians started to organize drama groups, dance groups, choirs and exhibitions of local artists. In 1930’s popular sports in Talsi were football and track and field.
In autumn of 1919 first secondary school in Talsi and its surroundings was opened in former residency of Baron von Fircks. Since 1957 Talsi First Secondary School is located on Brīvības Street 28, which regained its name as Talsi Gymnasium in 1998.
During World War II Talsi were under German occupation from July 1st 1941 until surrender of Nazi Germany in May 8th 1945.
In 50’s and 60’s of 20th century was a time of recovery here in Talsi, especially under the leadership of Kārlis Grīnbergs, the chairman of Talsi Executive Committee. Construction of parks, squares and improvements of streets and pedestrian roads in such a scale was unseen in this small town.
In November of 1960 wide-screen movie theatre “Auseklis”, with 500 seats, wide halls, reading-room and café, was opened.
Also in 1960 construction on open-air stage was started, stage and decorative limestone wall was built, footpaths and stairs from Fabrika Street over to Saules Street were paved. After the reconstruction effort open-air stage has seats for 5000 people.
Until 1961 narrow-gauge railway was used for passenger transport whose last trip took place in 1967.
In 1965 metal fabricating plant “Talsi” was founded, it once was the largest and most famous business in Talsi. In 70’s and 80’s of 20th century more than 350 people worked here, it was the largest plant of such sort in the USSR. Its goods were exported to other Republics of the Soviet Union, Mongolia and England. Only 15-20% of the goods produced here stayed in Latvia.
Larger scale improvements and construction started in 1972 with demolition of Orthodox Church. In 1976 new administrative building, hotel and parking lot were reviled. In 1980 Talsi Sports Centre was opened.
During 1960 and 1980 wide-scale construction of many storey buildings on A.Pumpura, Dundaga, Rīga and Darba Streets was in progress.
Today the place that symbolises a fresh start is Hill Ķēniņkalns, which has gained a patriotic sound and meaning. Already during the time of first independent Latvian State (1918-1940) Town of Talsi ordered sculptor Kārlis Zemdega to create monument “Koklētājs”, a dedication to fallen heroes of Latvian War of Independence. In vast forests of Dundaga a huge granite stone was found and funds for the construction was raised. But only in 1995 sculptor Vilnis Titāns had the opportunity to finish the work and on November 16th, 1996 the monument was erected.
Talsians with pride show to tourist the residency of Baron von Fircks, which since December 21st, 1996 has become the Talsi Regional Museum.
The change has come to all aspects of life. Talsi have remained town of traders, there are shops one after another, larger and much more beautiful than ever before.
With the restoration of independence also the religious life has been restored. Adventist Church has been built and Catholic Church is under reconstruction.
Places to visit in Talsi
FIND THE NINE HILLS OF TALSI!
TIGUĻU KALNS (TIGUĻI HILL)
Tiguļu Hill is the highest point in Talsi with oak plantation in circular form which could be a renewed ancient cult site. Tiguļu Hill’s name has derived from Tiguļu farmstead which was located here until mid 19th century. Dendrological Park has around 270 sightworthy ligneous plants (White mulberry, Firethorn, Eurasian smoketree etc.)
Talsi District Museum (K. Mīlenbaha Street 19, phone: +371 29102628). It was a dwelling house for Baron von Firx of Okte called „Villa Hochheim" (19th cent.), from 1923 to 1955 Talsi Secondary school was located there.
SAULESKALNS (SUN HILL)
In ancient times Sauleskalns (Sun Hill), Ķēniņkalns (King’s Hill) and Baznīckalns (Church Hill) were connected with constructions for sun rise and sun set observation to determine calendar time.
Open-air venue, build in 1960’s and capable to accommodate 5000 spectators.
TALSU PILSKALNS (TALSI HILL FORT)
Legend tells that Talsi wooden castle sank in Talsi Lake and will rise again when someone runs around the hill fort at New Year’s Eve when midnight bells are ringing, while wearing a fur coat upside down.
It was an ancient Curonian settlement from 10th to 14th century. In historical records the name Talsi first appears in 1231. The only “heatable”" 1ms hill in Latvia thanks to Talsi counties hospital’s boiler-house which is located nearby.
BAZNĪCKALNS (CHURCH HILL)
Hill’s name derives from Dutch-type wind mill which was used there in the middle of 19th century, but was burned down in 1922.
Castle of Teutonic order was located here. A view to Vilkmuižas lake.
Ezera square. Memorial place „Circle of life, shadow of death” by sculptor Ojārs Feldbergs.
ĶĒNIŅKALNS (KING’S HILL)
The name of this hill comes from tale about Curonian king Lamekins who, according to legend, was so notable that people formed this hill with their hands in his honour. At the end of 19th century town’s park was laid out there called King’s Park (Ķēniņdārzs), but during Soviet era Festivāla square was build nearby.
Monument “Koklētājs” dedicated to Latvian freedom fighters by sculptor Kārlis Zemdega. It was planned to set up the monument at the end of 1930s. In 1996 monument after plaster impression made by author was completed by sculptor Vilnis Titāns.
Torture chambers (Fabrikas street 11). World War II prison, during Soviet period a bas-relief was carved there in memory of martyrs.
Talsi People’s House (Lielā street 19/21). Built in 1912 as Talsi Commonwealth house in place of a former pub - Plostakrogs who connected lakes Talsi and Vilkmuiža.
Sun of Talsi – ethnographic sign in facade of a house on Liela street 25.
VILKMUIŽAS KALNS (WOLF MANOR HILL)
Name probably derives from bulrush with whom the Lake Vilkmuiža is plentiful or from a landlord, who was so angry that the people considered him to be a werewolf.
The Lake Vilkmuiža – an archaeological monument - ancient Curonian cremation grave in 11-14th centuries. After archaeological research 4000 artefacts have been found. They now are located in Talsi Regional Museum.
KRIEVRAGKALNS (RUSSIAN HORN HILL)
Kupferu dzimtas kapliča, celta 19. gs. sākumā trīsstūra formas neoklasicisma stilā.
Hill’s name comes from Eastern Orthodox Church and the church owned land in its surroundings.
An administrative centre was established in place of Orthodox Church in 1970s.
Talsi Baptist church (K.Valdemara Street 34).
Talsi Seventh-day Adventist church (Krievraga Street 3).
Heinz-Kupfer family chapel build in the beginning of 19th century in form of neoclassical styles triangular-shape.
LEČU KALNS (LEČU HILL)
Hills name is derived from Leči house whose property it was until the World War II.
Monument devoted to Russian Revolution of 1905 sculptor O.Nigule and was set up in 1981. A poem “Talsi Court” by Rainis has been carved into it.
“Hand of Talsi” – landmark was set up in 1936 and is portrays city’s coat of arms
Place of “Soda priede” (Punishment pine) connected to Russian Revolution of 1905.
Museum of Latvian Agriculture (Celtnieku Street 11, telephone: +371 29142543).