Historical and old photos of Ventspils (german - Windau)
Ventspils vēsturiskās un senās fotogrāfijas (vāciski - Windau)

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Historical and old photos of Ventspils (german - Windau)

A small historical reference

Geography: Ventspils is a city in northwestern Latvia in the historical Courland region of Latvia, and is the sixth largest city in the country. It is situated on the Venta River and the Baltic Sea, and has an ice-free port. The city's name literally means "castle on the Venta", referring to the Livonian Order's castle built alongside the Venta River. Ventspils holds the national record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Latvia with 37.8 °C (100.0 °F) on 4 August 2014.

Date of foundation: 1290


Population: 34 377


Ventspils. Book and art store R. Lantrewitz
Book and art store R. Lantrewitz
Ventspils. Castle street, 1916
Castle street, 1916
Ventspils. Church, 1916
Church, 1916
Ventspils. Goldingen street
Goldingen street
Ventspils. Grocery store near the park, 1973
Grocery store near the park, 1973
Ventspils. In the center of Ventspils, circa 1935
In the center of Ventspils, circa 1935
Ventspils. Lutheran Church
Lutheran Church
Ventspils. Lutheran Church and Pharmacy
Lutheran Church and Pharmacy
Ventspils. Lighthouse, circa 1935
Lighthouse, circa 1935
Ventspils. Kuldigskaya street, circa 1930
Kuldigskaya street, circa 1930
Ventspils. Kuldigskaya street, circa 1935
Kuldigskaya street, circa 1935
Ventspils. Kuldigskaya street
Kuldigskaya street
Ventspils. Market
Ventspils. Marketplace
Ventspils. Merchant's house, 1904
Merchant's house, 1904
Ventspils. Old warehouse, circa 1935
Old warehouse, circa 1935
Ventspils. Port Factory, 1917
Port Factory, 1917
Ventspils. Real School, 1913
Real School, 1913
Ventspils. Sailboat 'Herald' near Vindava Castle, circa 1890
Sailboat 'Herald' near Vindava Castle, circa 1890
Ventspils. Sea pilot tower
Sea pilot tower
Ventspils. Secondary school
Secondary school
Ventspils. Stock exchange club, 1910
Stock exchange club, 1910
Ventspils. Wood- and hay market, 1908
Wood- and hay market, 1908
Ventspils. Wooden pontoon bridge on the Vindava River, 1908
Wooden pontoon bridge on the Vindava River, 1908
Ventspils. Wooden prefabricated bridge on the Vindava River, 1916
Wooden prefabricated bridge on the Vindava River, 1916


Ventspils developed around the Livonian Order Ventspils Castle, built along the Venta River. It was chartered in 1314 and became an important mercantile city of the Hanseatic League.

As part of the Duchy of Courland, Ventspils blossomed as a shipbuilding centre. 44 warships and 79 trading ships were built in the town, and it was from Ventspils that the Duke's fleet set out to colonize Gambia and Tobago. Metal, amber, and wood-working shops also became important to the city's development.

During the Polish-Swedish War and the Great Northern War, Ventspils was destroyed, and in 1711 a plague wiped out most of the remaining inhabitants. After the Third Partition of Poland in 1795 Ventspils fell under the control of Russian Empire.

It was not until about 1850 that shipbuilding and trade became important again. The port was modernized in the 1890s and connected to Moscow by rail. It became one of Imperial Russia's most profitable ports, by 1913 turning a yearly profit of 130 million rubles. The population soared as well, growing from 7,000 in 1897, to 29,000 in 1913.

During the German occupation from 1915–1919, the population decreased almost by half, though some returned home during the First Republic of Latvia (1918–1940).

In 1939, the Red Army established a base in Ventspils. Under Soviet rule, an oil pipeline was built to Ventspils, and became the USSR's leading port in crude oil export. thirty kilometres (19 miles) north of Ventspils is the ex-Soviet radioastronomy installation VIRAC (Ventspils Starptautiskais radioastronomijas centrs or Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre). The existence of the Centrs was unknown to most Latvians until 1994. After independence, the Latvian government began a city-beautification process to make the city more attractive to tourists.

In 2004, Ventspils was a host city for a multi-national (United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Latvia, Denmark, Finland, Norway) naval exercise called Baltic Operations XXXIII (BALTOPS). The force was led by the guided missile cruiser USS Anzio and the destroyer USS Cole. The US vessels were the first American warships to visit the port of Ventspils since Latvian independence was declared.


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