“TheCeļotājs” –
Saldus – a "Drop of Honey" in Courland
 
   
   History of Saldus
 
    
 
Saldus is a small town in the highlands of eastern Kurzeme. Location has been historically important for the development of the town. Saldus is situated at the crossroads where the roads to Riga, Liepāja, Jelgava and Kuldīga meet. 
 
The town is spared the winds from the sea, save the church tower and the crowns of the grandest trees. The buildings of Old Town are located in the valley and line the banks of the Ciecere River. The ancient Cours were attracted to this place and their first settlement was built on the castle mound at Saldus Lake. Ancient funeral pyres have been discovered in this area. 
 
Historically, the name Saldus is first mentioned in the Cours Charter in which the entire area “terra inter Schrunden et Semigallian”, the land between Skrunda and Zemgale, was given to the Livonian Knights. The name “Saldus” is also mentioned in the Charter along with other place names, the ancient castle mound at Saldus Lake. The new rulers also built a new settlement that was maned Frauenburg. Although the German name took precedence over the Latvian name for several centuries, the original was not lost to history. The stone fortress of Frauenburg is the location of the second settlement. 
 
The Fortress is most frequently mentioned in historic sources, beginning in the 17th century when it became an important center for the Duchy of Courland. Settlements developed near the castle and several industries developed, lumber mills, flax mills and a tannery. With the invasion of the Swedes, the castle was severely damaged in 1659 – 1660 and completely destroyed during the Great Northern War. After the war, the lives of many more inhabitants were lost due to the Great Plague. For a long time following these disastrous events, only the Saldus congregation and manor continued to exist. 
 
Saldus started to develop a third time in 1856, this time farther west on the left bank of the Ciecere River where land from the Saldus manor was parceled into 42 plots and sold for private development. The first of these houses still remains. It is a small one-storey house at Striķu iela 9. When the initial development was completed, the hamlet was allocated land towards Upesmuižas Mill, now Lielā iela. 
 
Saldus could only be reached by road during czarist Russian rule. After the completion of the railway line between Jelgava and Liepāja, economic development flourished in the Saldus area. The closet rail station was Vecauce 43 kilometers from Saldus. Saldus gradually became the cultural center of the area. At the time, Saldus was home to several industries, a wool-carding mill, a steam mill, tobacco and match factories and Vicinskis’ agricultural machinery plant.
 
Saldus was afforded limited city rights in 1894.
 
During World War I in a few short months, the Germans, with the assistance of local builders, completed a narrow gauge railway between Saldus and Aizpute. During the war and until its destruction in 1922, this connection was used to transport passengers. Saldus was afforded city rights during German occupation in 1914. 
 
Many inhabitants of Saldus fled the area during World War I as the area changed hands several times. The Bolsheviks occupied the territory from January to March of 1919 and the area was liberated on 10 March by the Latvian National forces by Kalpaks. After Latvia declared independence, Saldus became a center for economic and cultural life when it became a stop on the new Liepāja to Jelgava railway line in 1929. The city experienced a building boom, which attested to the diligence and well being of the inhabitants. Several significant building were completed a few years before the onset of World War II and are still of importance today, the Post Office, the Second Evangelical Lutheran Church, Saldus Regional Administration Offices and Ciecere Elementary School. 
 
In 1940 Soviet forces occupied Saldus, like the rest of Latvia. Saldus was occupied by German forces on 29 June 1941 where they remained until the end of the war. From the autumn of 1944 until the spring on 1945, Saldus was located on the front lines, or as it is known in Latvian, Kurzeme Fortress. As a result, the town and its surrounding area suffered severe damage. The German Army’s Kurzeme forces capitulated in Saldus Region, Ezere, 8 May 1945. Even more damage was sustained as a result of Soviet air raids at the end of the war. 
 
The administrative units of Latvia were charged to Soviet Regions 1 January 1950 and the small city of Saldus became the center of the region. During Soviet occupation, several public buildings were built, cultural center, sport center, two secondary schools, hospital, stored and a swimming pool. 
 
Since the renewal of Latvian independence, several culturally and historically significant buildings in the center of town have been restored. Saldus continues to be a convenient and popular market center and draws vendors from a wide area. Several new buildings have been erected including the Saint Peter and Paul’s Roman Catholic Church – ANNO 1999, Saint Gregory’s Christian Ministry School – ANNO 1995, Saldus Region Council Offices, Saldus Market Area, hotels, cafes, shops, shopping centers and manufacturers. 
 
In 2003, 750 years had passed since the first mention of Saldus in historical documents, but in the summer of 2006 commemorate 150 years since the establishment of Saldus as a significant trade center. This event has been celebrated for two years now and locals, as well as visitors, participate in the town’s festivities. 
 
 
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Revised: 07/19/2013 – 00:48:44