Jelgava yesterday and today

Each city has its own story to tell, assembled by little pieces of history through time, forming the portrait and proving its strength. During the long period of its existence, Jelgava has experienced a lot and formed the foundation for its future growth. In the anticipation of the 756th birthday of Jelgava, a photo series "Jelgava yesterday and today" has been created, offering everyone a virtual and visual assessment of the changes our city has underwent in the last two decades.

Everyone is already familiar with Jelgava "today", though many have forgotten or never even experienced Jelgava "yesterday". Many streets and buildings have been reconstructed and renovated, new objects have been built and unique recreation places have been established in the last two decades, local events have gained an international dimension, and all this together forms Jelgava, which we love and are proud of. But the main value of the city is its people, and everyone has the opportunity to grow with the city and contribute to it, because together we are Jelgava!


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Strengthening and improvement of the Lielupe shore 170 meters in length began in Pilssala in 2018 with the aim to modernize Pilssala rowing base and develop water sports in the city.




First, bushes were cut, reinforced concrete slabs and stairs were dismantled, and the riverbed was cleared in the shoreline with an excavator. In this area, a five-meter-high corrugated wall, which is the main element for fortifying the river bank, has been built at a depth of about three meters, a three-meter-wide reinforced concrete staircase has been built in five places, providing access to the river and three slips for launching boats and other small floats.




Also, approximately four meters wide pedestrian walking area covered with boulders and a small parking lot for cars has been built on the bank of the Lielupe and landscaped surroundings have been established. The strengthening of the Lielupe shore section was completed in 2019.


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In order to ensure a modern study and work environment and increase the energy efficiency of the building, Jelgava City Municipality preschool educational institution "Sprīdītis" at Tērvetes Street 6 experienced significant changes in 2018–2019.




During construction, the plinth part of the building was insulated, windows and exterior doors were replaced, the basement floor and attic were insulated, a gable roof was built, heating system in the premises was restored, ventilation system was reconstructed and the lighting was modernized. In addition to increasing the energy efficiency of the building, the kindergarten also got an attractive exterior facade.




In turn, in 2020, the municipal preschool educational institution "Sprīdītis" expanded. In the former premises of the children and youth center "Junda" at Skolas Street 2, four groups of children who have reached the age of compulsory education were established.


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The reconstruction of 1.5 km long Brīvības Boulevard began in 2008. New underground communications, lighting, parking lot, new asphalt pavement and other important works were done.




Taking into account the suggestions of the residents, the location of the bus stop was changed, but for traffic safety purposes, traffic lights were built at the intersection of Lāčplēša Street and Brīvības Boulevard.




To ensure convenient access to Jelgava City Hospital, Zemgale Olympic Center and several educational institutions, reconstruction and improvement of Brīvības Boulevard was important both for the flow of public and private transport, as well as for pedestrians.




At 31A Brīvības Boulevard, repairs are currently underway and a municipal pre-school educational institution is being built. After the reconstruction of the building and the construction of its extension, it is planned to admit 160 children to the kindergarten.


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The environmental object "The Wheel of Time 100" at Lielā Street 38 in the square between Jāņa Asara and Lielā Streets was unveiled by the sculptor Kārlis Īle on May 4th, 2018, marking the 28th anniversary of the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Latvia. It symbolizes each year of the country's existence.




The interactive environmental object "The Wheel of Time 100" within a radius of 14 meters depicts the silhouettes of ten people in full height, each of them symbolizing ten years of our country. Next to each silhouette information about the most significant events of each decade can be read. The star-like paving in the square where the "holders" of Latvia are located, symbolizes the wheel of time that continues to move through the decades.




In total the silhouettes hold 100 stones, which symbolize the anniversary of Latvia's existence, but the images of people - all those who were involved in the formation of Latvia, thus emphasizing that the country is formed by each of us. Human figures are made of brushed stainless steel. The planes facing the square are polished to form a mirror image of the visitors, thus each becoming the bearer of Latvia's years and the creator of history. The side of figures facing the outside of the circle are engraved with the most important historical events of Jelgava in the context of Latvia.




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The building of municipal preschool educational institution at Ganību Street 66 began in the summer of 2013 with the aim of providing space for 280 children and 55 new jobs.




After the completion of the large-scale reconstruction, in 2015, the new kindergarten "Kāpēcīši" with 12 kindergarten groups, landscaped surroundings and two swimming pools was opened at Ganību Street 66.




An extension was built to the kindergarten building,  and two swimming pools were created - 10 x 15 meters and 4 x 5 meters in size – as well as a 90 square meter gym.




There is also a landscaped area, playgrounds for children of each group and a parking lot for 28 cars at the entrance gate.




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In 2019, in order to reduce the flood risk in the territory of Jelgava city, construction works were started in the vicinity of Būriņu Road and Sniega Street to restore the flow of the Svēte River and to reduce the flood risk in the adjacent area.




The construction work lasted for more than a year, and in March 2020, a new recreation area was opened - wooden footbridges in the Svēte floodplain meadows, which is one of the most visible benefits of this project for residents, as there is one more organized place to take walks in Jelgava.




In the meadows of the Svēte floodplain between Sniega Street, Būriņu, Vītolu and Miezītes Road, a recreation area of ​​almost 3365 square meters in size has been created. The built network of wooden footbridge paths for walks is more than 1.6 kilometers long and the footbridges are connected with three gravel paths. For pedestrian safety, wooden footbridges are equipped with handrails with fencing, and platforms have been created in several places for smoother pedestrian flow, allowing people to watch nature undisturbed.




Wooden footbridges are a popular place for recreation walks for locals and other inhabitants.


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Transformation of Sporta Street


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In 2014, with the aim of creating a modern and safe public transport system to ensure the connection of various modes of transport, the city of Jelgava started to improve several sections of streets,,including the reconstruction of Sporta Street in the section from Pasta Street, while the section from Pasta Street to Zemgale Prospekt was rebuilt entirely. During the reconstruction, a parking lot for 240 cars and a landscaped area was also created.


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It is important to note that in the section of Sporta Street from Zemgale Prospekts to Pasta Street, a soil research was carried out using manual labor in order to find archaeological objects that would allow to record the formation time of the archaeological layer. Archaeological objects that were found have been cleared of overgrowth, numbered and their description has been prepared. After the completion of the works, all of the found objects have been handed over to the Ģederts Eliass Jelgava History and Art Museum.


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Changes of Lielupe Bridge


In the old Jelgava engravings and postcards, a floating raft bridge over the Lielupe can be seen, which was attached to piles driven into the river. In order not to carry the ice raft bridge, it was used only during the warm season and was removed every year before the onset of winter.


During World War I, in the summer of 1915, when the Tsar's troops retreated from Jelgava in the direction of Riga, the floating Lielupe bridge was demolished and burned in order to prevent the advancing parts of the attacking 8th German Army.

The first permanent bridge over the Lielupe in Jelgava was opened 105 years ago on March 1st, 1916, during the German occupation. It was built by the 8th German Army bomb disposal unit soldiers. The bridge was made out of wood and was called the Paprica Bridge.


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A reinforced concrete vault bridge over the Lielupe river in Jelgava was built in the mid-1950s. Its length is 146.6 meters. When the Lielupe bridge was reconstructed in 2001, traffic over the river was organized over a pontoon bridge. Along with the Lielupe Bridge, the Driksa Bridge has also been renovated.


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The building of the Jelgava State Gymnasium was designed by architect Valdis Zēbauers and completed in 1939. The school building was damaged during World War II along with about 95 percent of the city, however the school building was later restored.


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As the school had not undergone major renovations before its reconstruction, it kept its architectural look of the 1930s. It was decided to preserve as much as possible during the reconstruction - to restore where possible and to re-create it other places by analogy.


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The reconstruction of Jelgava State Gymnasium was completed in 2019. The large-scale construction work lasted two and a half years, and new piping and utilities were built for the school - heating, gas, electricity, sewerage and water supply - which had not been changed since the building was renovated after the Second World War.


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The building has a new roof and windows, a renovated facade painted in the gray tones, typical to the functional architecture of the 1930s, a landscaped area and a stadium. Within the framework of the reconstruction of the historical building, an ergonomic school environment has been created, information and communication technology solutions have been introduced, and the sports infrastructure has been improved.


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In 2020 the reconstructed building of Jelgava State Gymnasium, won the 3rd place in the competition "The best building of the year in Latvia 2019" in the nomination "Reconstruction".


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Jelgava State Gymnasium sports stadium - a place of recreation, sports and sports activities for rezidents


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At the end of 2018, large-scale construction works were performed at the Jelgava State Gymnasium Stadium, as a result of which two streetball courts, a volleyball court, two long jump pits, a ball-throwing sector, two folk ball fields, a ball-throwing sector, a high-jumping sector and a fitness area with eight devices were installed in the 6511.10 square meter stadium. 


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A new metal fence has been installed around the stadium and 30-meter-high spotlights have been installed so that the stadium can be used in the evenings.


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Street Vecpilsētas 14 - a three-storey wooden building, which is an architectural monument of national significance and one of the oldest and most valuable wooden houses in Jelgava




When the construction works started in 2018, the building was in a state of emergency, but as a result of the renovation, the facility has retained an overview on the various interior decorations, which indicates the development of historical style trends in the interior and lifestyle, tastes and material possibilities of the building's historical occupants.


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In 2020, the building No. 14 on Vecpilsētas Street was recognized as the best building in the nomination "Restoration" in the competition "The Best Building of the Year in Latvia 2019" and in the competition "Latvian Construction Annual Award 2019".


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Building on Zemgales prospekts 7 - the place where the Creative House "Junda" and the children's and youth library "Zinitis" are located


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The building was built in 1888 for the donation of Jelgava publisher Gustav Adolf Reir to the city according to the project of architect Aleksandrs Johann Friedrich Baumanis as a shelter for the widows of merchants, and its extension, built in 1973, has experienced extensive changes.


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The construction work lasted for more than two years, creating a modern and up-to-date environment - the house has a new roof, windows, doors, restored facade, as well as two of the facade information boards on the older part of the building in which engraved gratitude to the builders. There are benches, a basketball hoop, a rock climbing wall in the yard, and there are bicycle parking spaces around the whole building, including one fenced and locked.


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Jelgava Holy Trinity Church tower - one of the most visited tourist attractions in Jelgava


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In November 2010, after an extensive reconstruction, the tower of the Holy Trinity Church was restored in a new form and opened its doors to visitors. 


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During the first days of opening, 3726 atendees got acquainted with the expositions of the tower, but during the first year, the exposition and viewing area was visited by an impressive number of 39,965 people from different parts of Latvia and the world.


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Interesting facts:

  • The church tower is the oldest building that has survived in Jelgava.
  • The total height of the tower is 50 meters.
  • The glass platform, from which you can enjoy the panorama of Jelgava, is located at a height of 37 meters.
  • The central area of the historical Holy Trinity Church in Jelgava is decorated with a sculpture fountain "Trinity", which symbolizes the core of the highest values of the Christian faith - the unity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.