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Daugavpils (Latvian pronunciation: [ˈdaʊɡaʊpils] (About this soundlisten); Latgalian: Daugpiļs [ˈdaʊkʲpʲilʲsʲ]; Russian: Даугавпилс [ˈdaʊɡəfpʲɪls]; Polish: Dyneburg; see other names) is a city in south-eastern Latvia, located on the banks of the Daugava River, from which the city gets its name. It is the second largest city in the country after the capital Riga, which is located some 230 kilometres (143 miles) to its north-west.

City from different points of view
City from different points of view
Flag of Daugavpils
Coat of arms of Daugavpils
Coat of arms
Daugavpils is located in Latvia
Location of Daugavpils in Latvia
Coordinates: 55°52′30″N 26°32′8″E / 55.87500°N 26.53556°E / 55.87500; 26.53556Coordinates: 55°52′30″N 26°32′8″E / 55.87500°N 26.53556°E / 55.87500; 26.53556
Country Latvia
Town rights1582
 • Chairman of the City CouncilAndrejs Elksniņš
 • Number of city council members15
 • City72.48 km2 (27.98 sq mi)
 • Water9.75 km2 (3.76 sq mi)
Highest elevation
139 m (456 ft)
Lowest elevation
86 m (282 ft)
 (1 January 2019)[2]
 • City91,913
 • Rank2
 • Density1,300/km2 (3,300/sq mi)
 • Urban
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
Calling code(+371) 654

Daugavpils is located relatively close to Belarus and Lithuania (distances of 33 km (21 mi) and 25 km (16 mi) respectively), and some 120 km (75 mi) from the Latvian border with Russia. Daugavpils is a major railway junction and industrial centre and lies approximately midway between Riga and Minsk, and between Warsaw and Saint Petersburg.

Daugavpils, then Dyneburg, was the capital of Polish Livonia while in Poland. Following the first partition of Poland in 1772, the city became part of the Russian Empire. To this day it maintains an overwhelmingly Russian-speaking population, with Latvians and Poles being significant minorities.


Historically, several names in various languages have identified Daugavpils. Some are still in use today.

  • Belarusian: Даўґаўпілс (Daŭgaŭpils), Дзвінск (Dzvinsk),[nb 1] historically Дынабурґ (Dynaburg)
  • Estonian: Väinalinn
  • Finnish: Väinänlinna
  • German: Dünaburg
  • Latgalian: Daugpiļs
  • Lithuanian: Daugpilis
  • Polish: Dyneburg
  • Russian: Даугавпилс, Невгин (Nevgin), Динабург (Dinaburg), Борисоглебск (Borisoglebsk 1656–67), Двинcк (Dvinsk)
  • Yiddish: דענענבורג‎ (Denenburg), Yiddish: דינאַבורג‎ (Dinaburg), Yiddish: דווינסק‎ (Dvinsk)

Chronology of name changesEdit

  • Dünaburg (1275–1656)
  • Borisoglebsk (1656–1667)
  • Dünaburg (1667–1893)
  • Dvinsk (1893–1920)
  • Daugavpils (since 1920)



The city has a moderate continental climate. Under the Köppen climate classification, Daugavpils features a humid continental climate (Dfb).

Climate data for Daugavpils
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 7.5
Average high °C (°F) −3.8
Daily mean °C (°F) −6.7
Average low °C (°F) −10.0
Record low °C (°F) −36.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 36
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 9.6 7.7 8.5 8.0 9.2 9.9 11.1 10.2 11.7 9.8 11.4 11.9 119.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 34 61 123 170 250 259 255 226 151 90 33 22 1,674
Source: NOAA[3]


Dynamics of the population of Daugavpils in 1772–2008
Saint Peter-in-Chains

As of 1 January 2011, the city had a population of 94,196. In Daugavpils 85% of the voters supported the proposal to make Russian the second state language in the 2012 referendum.[4]

Demographics of Daugavpils 2011 Census data[5]


Before the Second World War there were more than 40 synagogues in the city.[citation needed]


Daugavpils (Dvinsk) town centre at the beginning of the 20th century
Historical affiliations
Livonian Order 1275–1561

  Grand Duchy of Lithuania 1561–1569
  Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1569–1772
  Russian Empire 1772–1917
  Republic of Latvia 1920−1940
  Soviet Union 1940–1941
  Reichskommissariat Ostland 1941–1944
  Soviet Union 1944–1991

  Latvia 1991–present
A 1912 photo by Prokudin-Gorsky

The town's history began in 1275 when the Livonian Order built Dünaburg Castle 20 km (12 mi) up the Daugava river from where Daugavpils is now situated. In 1561 it became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and, subsequently, of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569 (see Duchy of Livonia). In 1621 Daugavpils became the capital of the newly formed Inflanty Voivodeship, which existed until the First Partition of Poland (1772). In 1577 the Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible captured and destroyed Dünaburg castle. That same year, a new castle was built 20 km (12 mi) downriver. In 1582 Daugavpils was granted Magdeburg town rights. In the 17th century, during the Russo–Swedish War initiated by Tsar Alexis of Russia, the Russians captured Daugavpils, renamed the town Borisoglebsk and controlled the region for 11 years, between 1656 and 1667. Russia returned the area to Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth following the Treaty of Andrusovo (1667). It became part of the Russian Empire after First Partition of Poland in 1772. It was an uyezd center firstly in Pskov Governorate between 1772 and 1776, Polotsk one between 1776 and 1796, Belarus one between 1796 and 1802 and finally Vitebsk between 1802 and 1917 as Dinaburg firstly, as Dvinsk later during Russian rule.

From 1784 onwards the city had a large and active Jewish population[6] among them a number of prominent figures. According to the Russian census of 1897, out of a total population of 69,700, Jews numbered 32,400 (ca. 44% percent).[7]

As part of the Russian Empire the city was called Dvinsk from 1893 to 1920. The newly independent Latvian state renamed it Daugavpils in 1920. Latvians, Poles and Soviet troops fought the Battle of Daugavpils in the area from 1919 to 1920. Daugavpils and the whole of Latvia was under the Soviet Union rule between 1940–41 and 1944–1991, while Germany occupied it between 1941 and 1944. The Nazis established the Daugavpils Ghetto where the town's Jews were forced to live. Most were murdered. During the Cold War the Lociki air-base operated 12 km (7 mi) northeast of Daugavpils itself. In the late Soviet era there was a proposal to build a hydroelectric power station on the Daugava river that was successfully opposed by the nascent environmental movement in Latvia.

On 16 April 2010 an assassin shot vice-mayor Grigorijs Ņemcovs in the center of the city. He died almost immediately and the crime remains unsolved.[8]

Jewish historyEdit

Prior to the Holocaust, Daugavpils, (called by its Jewish inhabitants Dvinsk), was home to the most prominent Jewish community in eastern Latvia. The city was already a Jewish center as early as the 1780s and by the time of the 1897 census they numbered 32,400- 44% of the overall population of the city. By 1911 they had increased to 50,000. The Jews of the town were very prosperous and ran 32 factories and there were 4000 artisans among them.

The city not only boasted a large Jewish population but a rich religious culture including 40 synagogues. The city was home to two of the most prominent rabbis of their time: Joseph Rosen (1858-1936), known as the Rogatchover Gaon (genius from Rahachow), was famed for his commentaries on the works of Maimonides and on the Talmud. Famed for his acidic wit and penetrating genius, he led the towns Hasidic Jews. His 'competitor', the leader of the local Misnagdim (non-Hasidic Jews) was the Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (1843-1926). Rabbi Meir Simcha was also renowned for his work on Maimonides (Or Somayach) as well as Bible commentary Meshech Chochma. In one famous comment he predicted that since some Jews had assimilated and viewed Berlin as their 'Jerusalem' they would suffer persecution originating in Berlin.

Another famous Jewish resident was the abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko. Born in Daugavpils in 1903 he immigrated at the age of 10 to the United States where he painted over 800 paintings in his unique style.

Jewish Daugavpils came to an end following the Nazi German invasion on June 26, 1941. Falsely claiming that the Jews had conspired to set fire to the town and that they were assisting the Soviet army, the Germans and their Latvian collaborators carried out large executions on June 28–29. During July the Jews were enslaved and forced to cut down timber. On July 7–11 Einsatzkommando 1b under Erich Ehrlinger executed many of the remaining Jews. Later in July the 14,000 remaining Jews were forced into a Ghetto along with those from nearby towns. By the end of August an additional 7000 Jews had died at the hands of the Nazis and the Latvian populace. The largest execution took place in November 1941 and was followed by plagues that decimated the few survivors. Only about 1500 Jews remained in the city. These were murdered (again with the aid of the Latvians) on May 1, 1942. When the town was liberated in 1944 only 100 survivors remained of a community of 16,000. For more on the Holocaust in Daugavpils see Daugavpils Ghetto.

Art, architecture, and cultureEdit

Ss Boris and Gleb Orthodox Cathedral – the biggest Orthodox church in Latvia
The NAF Staff band in the Daugavpils Town Festival in 2009.

Daugavpils is an important cultural centre in eastern Latvia. There are 22 primary and secondary schools, four vocational schools, and the Saules College of Art. More than 1,000 teachers and engineers graduate from the University of Daugavpils (formerly Daugavpils Pedagogical University) and the local branch of Riga Technical University annually. There is also one Polish school, the only in the city, on Varšavas iela (Warsaw Street).

Daugavpils Theatre was restored a couple of years ago.[when?] There is also one cinema as well as other cultural institutions. The city exhibition center offers many cultural activities.

There are also several architectural, historical, and cultural monuments in Daugavpils. The most prominent is the Daugavpils fortress dating mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries. In April 2013 the Mark Rothko Art centre was opened in fortress.

Historical centreEdit

The historical centre of Daugavpils city is an architectural heritage of national importance (the construction work was carried out in the 19th century according to the project endorsed in St Petersburg in 1826). The historical centre is the greatest attraction of the city and one of the most successful examples of balancing the aspects of ancient and modern times. Daugavpils is one of the few cities in Latvia which can pride itself on a unified ensemble of both classic and eclectic styles. The cultural heritage of architectural, artistic, industrial, and historical monuments combined with the picturesque surroundings create the essence of Daugavpils’ image and endow it with a special charm.

Polish language gymnasium.

Red brick buildingsEdit

Daugavpils is exceptionally rich in red brick buildings. This style was developed by many outstanding architects. In Daugavpils this variety of eclecticism is most widely represented in the buildings designed by Wilhelm Neumann, an architect of German origin who was the chief architect of the city from 1878 to 1895. Bright examples of brick architecture are the buildings at 1/3 Saules Street and at 8 Muzeja Street. The shape-forming techniques typical of eclecticism that were applied in the façades of these buildings even many decades later make one appreciate and admire the striking accuracy of detail.


Daugavpils rail bridge.

Daugavpils satiksme AS oversees the city's autobus and tram networks.

The city's railway station is the terminus of the Riga–Daugavpils Railway. There is a train connection to Vilnius during the weekends.

Daugavpils International Airport is located 12 km (7 mi) northeast of Daugavpils, near the village of Lociki. The airport was denationalized in 1993 and since 2005 there exists an ongoing project to redevelop the former military facility to allow both international and domestic passenger traffic, as well as international and domestic cargo transport and charter flights.[9][10]


Daugavpils City Hall

The head of the city government is the mayor of Daugavpils or, literally, 'Council Chairman' (domes priekšsēdētājs). The incumbent since January 2019 is Andrejs Elksniņš from Harmony, albeit coalition talks are still ongoing. It is his second term in office, after his initial term was ended after the coalition broke apart in September 2017 less than a month following the 2017 municipal elections and he was succeded by Rihards Eigims [lv] of the Latvian Green Party (elected on the "Our Party" electoral list). "Our Party" governed in coalition with the Latgale Party [lv] of the previous mayor Jānis Lāčplēsis. Eigims was previously mayor from 2001–2003 as leader of the Light of Latgale party and briefly in 2009 as a member of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party.

The Council consists of 15 members who are elected every four years. The most recent election was in 2017.


During the Soviet time, the city was well industrialised with a number of prominent large manufacturing units. However, nowadays only a few of those have remained still working. The city council is trying to attract new investments and thus created a number of free industrial zones around the whole city that might be interesting due to the strategically efficient geographical position of the city close to the Russian, Belarusian and Lithuanian borders.


Daugavpils Olympic Centre

The football clubs FC Daugava and BFC Daugavpils play at Celtnieks Stadium in Daugavpils. Both teams plays in the Latvian Higher League. There is also a hockey team called DHK Latgale, which currently plays in the Latvian Hockey League.

The Speedway Grand Prix of Latvia is currently held at the Latvijas Spīdveja Centrs with America's triple World Champion Greg Hancock being the most successful rider in Latvia winning the GP in 2009, 2009 and 2013. Lokomotiv Daugavpils is a Motorcycle speedway team based in Daugavpils who currently race in the Polish First League (2nd division).

In 2008 the construction of the Daugavpils Multifunctional Sports Complex was started and was completed in October 2009.

Notable residentsEdit

Twin towns — sister citiesEdit

Daugavpils is twinned with:[11]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ In Taraškievica it is spelled Дзьвінск (Dźvinsk).


  1. ^ "Population on 1 January by age groups and sex - functional urban areas". Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  2. ^ "Latvijas iedzīvotāju skaits pašvaldībās 01.01.2012. (PDF)" (PDF) (in Latvian). Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  3. ^ "Daugavpils Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  4. ^, [1], 18.02.2012
  6. ^ "Jewish families of Dvinsk". Retrieved 2008-07-12.
  7. ^ Joshua D. Zimmerman, Poles, Jews, and the politics of nationality, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2004, ISBN 0-299-19464-7, Google Print, p.16
  8. ^ "Nošauts Daugavpils vicemērs Grigorijs Ņemcovs" (in Latvian). 2010-04-16. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  9. ^ "Daugavpils |". Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  10. ^ "Daugavpils |". Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  11. ^ "Sadraudzības pilsētas". (in Latvian). Daugavpils. Retrieved 2019-08-30.

External linksEdit