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[TURIBA, LATVIA] Visiting Livonian Cultural Space in Latvia

On August 4, 2020 the project team of Turiba University visited the Livonian Cultural space as part of project dissemination and valorisation events. This place was selected because one of our modules is about Livonian Cultural space.

Historically, Livs (Livonians) inhabited the sea coast and the mouth of the Daugava. They were great fishermen and sailors. Livs were the first to meet those who came to Latvia by sea. That is why in the Middle Ages Latvia was called Livonia.

The project team visited the places included in the module on Livonian Cultural Space in order to see the cultural heritage and if it is correctly depicted in the module created. The itinerary was as follows: Pavilosta – Kolka – Mikeltornis – Mazirbe – Slitere.

Pavilosta is a port city in the west of Latvia at the mouth of the Saka River in the Baltic Sea, 240 km from Riga. We had a short project dissemination at Pavilosta Tourism Information centre. Afterwards, we proceeded to Kolka, an ancient Livonian village in Kurzeme. The first information about Cape Kolka (Tumisnis) dates back to Viking times and is mentioned in the inscription on the Mervala rune stone. Mikeltornis, also Mikelbaka, or in Liv, Pize (Pisa) is a village on the Baltic coast. The village has the highest lighthouse in Latvia – Mikelbaka, a Lutheran church built in 1893, Pize Liv Cemetery. In turn, Slitere is a village in Dundaga Parish, Dundaga District. Slitere National Park and the Slitere lighthouse and a museum, built in 1850, are located there.

But, our main destination was Mazirbe where we visited the Livonian Cultural Centre and had a lively discussion with the administrator of the Centre about the project, specifically about the module on Livonians. Mazirbe is the largest Livonian village on the Baltic Sea coast of Kurzeme, the centre of the state-protected Livonian cultural and historical territory.

Moreover, we had another meeting in Mazirbe at ethnographic museum Branki. The museum owner provided us with a unique opportunity to look into the past by visiting the historic Branki household. This household provides an opportunity to enjoy historical Livonian dishes and to see a collection of ancient Livonian items. The museum owner was very professional and told us several legends and stories connected with the history of the region which we incorporated in the tasks of our module.

To conclude, although nowadays there are only a few Livs, they are still active members of the cultural society and work in several music ensembles. Today, only 170 people consider themselves Livs, and the Liv language is spoken much less. Some of the Livonian folk songs are included in our module created as well.

Eliza Liena Laksa

Turiba University project team member