"Latgola and Sēlija" Latgale by daugavpilietis
Latgale Travel Guide: 12 reviews and 26 photos
Daugavpils, with 113 000 residents the second largest city in Latvia, is the "metropolis" of Latgola (Latgola is the name of the region in Latgalian -- in Latvian it's Latgale, in English Latgalia or Latgallia, in Latin Lettigallia or Lethigallia, and in Polish Inflanty or Inflantia... it is the historical eastern province of Latvia) -- Rēzekne is its heart.
VT has chosen to divide Latvia by regions (rajoni) rather than provinces (apgabali) or "counties" (a not quite accurate translation of novadi), and the VT division has its drawbacks -- the regions don't really follow historical boundaries, most of which are important even today, especially here in Latgola (this province has its own dialect, which so differs from standard Latvian that it is considered a separate language by its more fervent proponents).
Latgola was part of Poland from 1562 to 1772, and besides the linguistic differences it's also heavily Catholic (most of the rest of Latvia is primarily Lutheran, whilst many of Latvia's Russians are Eastern Orthodox... there are also numerous Old Believers).
[This page is under heavy construction -- for some info on the city rather than the province, see Daugavpils, as this funky regional division demands...]
Another name for the area in history was Ducatus Ultradunensis, under Polish rule from 1566 -- this term was applied to all of what had been Livonia but not to Courland and Semigallia. The name meant "the duchy across the Daugava (Duna)," and the great river is indeed the basic dividing line.
South of the river lies Selonia -- Sēlija or Augšzeme, "the highland" (it's not so very high -- the highest point in Selonia is Egļu kalns at 220 m, near Sventes ezers -- Lake Svente -- this summit is now easily accessible to tourists, with well-marked trails and steps; the depth and breadth of the Daugava valley means that the highland offers some fantastic views).
Selonia (Sēlija in Latvian) now consists of those portions of Daugavpils, Jēkabpils and Aizkraukles rajoni that lie on the left bank of the Daugava. The highlanders speak a sub-dialect of the High Latvian spoken in Latgola. Ancient Selonia stretched into Lithuania but was subdued and Christianized by Bishop Albert in 1208. The capital of Selonia was Sēlpils (castrum Selonum), across the Daugava from Pļaviņas.
- Pros:Lakes, woods, flowers, birds...
- Cons:The tourist infrastructure is somewhat embryonic.
- In a nutshell:Latgola -- the Land of Blue Lakes
Between Daugavpils and Krāslava (the latter was considered the most beautiful spot in Latvia in the 'Thirties, and... more travel advice
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