Welcome to my place . . . Jelgava

Historic sights, good food and a bicycle tour of the Latvian city

Cian Guckian in Jelgava.

Cian Guckian in Jelgava.

 

Cian Guckian from Portmarnock, Co Dublin moved to Jelgava to be with his wife, Lena Pavlova

Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Jelgava?
You have to visit the Tower of the Holy St Trinity Church. Since 1998, the tower has been included in the list of culture heritage monuments protected by the state. The first floor is where a tourist information centre is located. Here you will find information about tourism possibilities in Jelgava city, and Jelgava and Ozolnieki counties.

Jelgava Boulevard with the Holy Trinity Church Tower in the background. Photograph: iStock
Jelgava Boulevard with the Holy Trinity Church Tower in the background. Photograph: iStock

The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are ...
Spend a day at Jelgava’s city beach, which is normally crowded with locals and offers watersports.

Visit the Museum of Christmas Battles in Mangali, where the front line ran during the first World War and where the legendary Christmas Battles took place. It is a great outing for the history buff.

Do a city cycle tour. Rent a bike at Veloveikals Expert (Veloveikals Expert, Garozas iela 36, Jelgava) and you can visit all of Jelgava’s major attractions. You will pass some of Jelgava’s major sights, including Jelgava Palace, Tower of the Jelgava Holy Trinity Church, and St Simeon and St Anne Orthodox Cathedral.

St Simeon and St Anna orthodox cathedral, built in 1780.
St Simeon and St Anne Orthodox Cathedral, built in 1780.

Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Jelgava?
Hotel Jelgava (jelgava-hotel.lv) is definitely worth a visit. It is situated in the heart of Jelgava city, close to the Jelgava Palace. You will have the choice of choosing from specialities such as Latvian crepes, a great selection of mouthwatering soups, maises zupa (rye bread pudding) and potato salad, as well as more contemporary dishes, all of which are very reasonably priced.

Hercog’s (hercogs.lv) is a treat for every visitor to the city. Try some of Jelgava’s famous dishes including hercoga bura, a main course of oven baked pork prepared in a special marinade, served with caramelised sauerkraut, roasted vegetables and roots, red bilberry sauce and horseradish. After your main course, try Hercog’s tasty dessert, Charlotte’s Kiss.

Where is the best place to get a sense of Jelgava’s place in history?

It has got to be Jelgava Palace. This stunning palace was twice rebuilt almost from scratch following devastation in both world wars. With its dignified maroon and cream facade, it graces the riverbank next to the main Riga highway. During the summer months it is crowded with tourists from all over the world. Jelgava Palace was built by Rastrelli for Count Ernst Johann von Biron in 1738. It was the official residence of Louis XVIII before he became King of France.

Jelgava Palace, now home to the city’s university of agriculture.
Jelgava Palace, now home to the city’s university of agriculture.

What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Jelgava?
Red chocolate and Tervetes beer. Red chocolate, which is sugar-free and lower in calories than conventional chocolate, is produced in the city. And the famous Tervetes Alus is a very popular beer in Jelgava and it is famous all over Latvia.

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We’d love to hear from you

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