JURMALA

Latvia

Jurmala, the pearl of Latvia, is the largest resort town in the Baltic. No other place has beaches with tens of kilometres of such white, fine sand.

Info Jurmala

introduction

Jūrmala is a city in Latvia, about 25 kilometres (16 miles) west of Riga. Jūrmala is a resort town stretching 32 km (20 miles) and sandwiched between the Gulf of Riga and the Lielupe River. It has a 33 km (21 miles) stretch of white-sand beach, and a population of 55,580, making it the fifth largest city in Latvia.

While Latvia was part of the Soviet Union, Jūrmala was a favorite holiday-resort and tourist destination for high-level Communist Party officials, particularly Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev. Although it has many amenities such as beach-houses and concrete hotels remain, some have fallen into disrepair. Jūrmala remains a tourist attraction with long beaches facing the Gulf of Riga and romantic wooden houses in the Art Nouveau style.

In publications dating from the Soviet period, the city name was occasionally spelled in English as Yurmala, a back-transliteration from Russian.

Tourism

Jurmala, the pearl of Latvia, is the largest resort town in the Baltic. No other place has beaches with tens of kilometres of such white, fine sand. Nowhere else do the pines on the dunes murmur so restfully. And the air is full of ozone and sea freshness. Right behind the dunes are the wooden houses so characteristic of Jurmala, with their finely divided window, verandas and rooftop structures. Beside them are contemporary buildings, blending admirably into the landscape.

Jurmala is a city on the crest of a wave. A wave of achievement, of hope, of love and success. The waves in the Gulf of Riga, with their white crest, are calm and inviting only in the summer. In the autumn storms, they grow harsh and impose their own rhythm. Just as varied as the sea is life in the different parts of the town along its whole 33 km length, between the Lielupe, one of Latvia's major rivers, and the Gulf of Riga. At the narrowest spot, a distance of only 300 metres separates the river from the sea.

The town has many hotels and guest houses, catering for widest range of tastes. There are pools with seawater and mineral water. Tennis courts and yacht clubs. Jurmala offers diverse cultural, recreation and sporting activities. Favourites are the traditional festivities — the Jomas Street Festival, and the Fishermen's Festival, both held in the middle of summer, in July. For unforgettable moments, take a summer ferry trip down the River Lielupe. The town's history, along with people well known in Latvia and the world, is seen in six museums, including one of Latvia's few open-air museums. By walking the nature trails, you can acquaint yourself at leisure with the outstanding relief, flora and fauna.

Jurmala is beautiful and interesting at any season of the year, but most visitors arrive in the summer months, from June to August. The town is gradually developing into a venue for conferences and meetings, where guests arrive throughout the year.

Certainly, every tourist and visitor is welcome, assured of a hospitable reception in Jurmala. Every moment in Jurmala provides energy and joy of life to last a long time, and all who come will long to return again and again.

History

The city of Jūrmala actually consists of a string of small resorts. From west to east, these include Ķemeri, Jaunķemeri, Sloka, Kauguri, Vaivari, Asari, Melluži, Pumpuri, Jaundubulti, Dubulti, Majori, Dzintari, Bulduri and Lielupe.

The area now comprising the city of Jūrmala was formerly part of Riga, known as Rīgas Jūrmala. Some parts of the area, like Sloka and Ķemeri, have been known as health resorts for centuries. Jūrmala was once known in German as Riga-Strand, or "Beach of Riga".

Jūrmala's reputation as a spa destination began in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Wealthy landowners began the tradition of relaxing at the seaside, and Russian army officers came here to rest after the Napoleonic Wars, returning later with their families. The peak of the Jūrmala area's development was the opening of the Riga - Tukums railway in 1877 (which still passes through Jūrmala) that gave a great boost to the numbers of visitors, and thus a boost to the development of the town as a resort. Jūrmala also gained a reputation as a health spa. The sea breeze, pine aroma, mineral springs, and sandy beach encouraged many sanatoriums to develop within the city.

In Soviet times Jūrmala was popular with the Communist officials because of its beach and sanatoriums - holidays were also given as rewards for top union members. It became one of the most popular holiday destinations in the whole Union. The spas offered facilities from mud baths to riding therapy and hiking in the woods. In summer there are many concerts.

Jūrmala gained official status as a city in 1959. The railway line became electrified and today it features the most regular train service in Latvia.

Whereas Riga has advanced rapidly to embrace and cater for growing numbers of Western tourists, Jūrmala has lagged behind. Russians are now subject to strict visa requirements and its beaches have yet to attract significant numbers of Europeans, leaving the tourist industry with a hard task on its hands. However, during the past few years, Jūrmala has started to recover. Many Russian celebrities, successful businessmen and others have been buying houses near the beach, and lots of different festivals and other activities have brought more and more people to the town each summer. At the moment, Jūrmala has almost achieved the popularity that it experienced by the Soviet elite.

The main beach at Majori and another at Bulduri now bear blue eco-flags signalling the sea is clean and safe to swim in, and the Latvian Academy of Science boasts a hotel for its members in the town. There is also the Midsummer Festival in June, celebrating the longest day of the year. The 'Jaunais Vilnis' New Wave [www] music festival showcases the latest music from all over Europe.

Transportation - Get In


By plane

The closest airport is located in Riga. From there, you can take minibus line 241 to Imanta railway station (10 minutes, €0.70), and continue by suburban train to Majori station in central Jurmala (15 minutes, €2).

A direct taxi ride between Jurmala and the airport should cost around €25.


By train

Jūrmala is served by suburban trains on the Riga-Tukums route, leaving approximately every 30 minutes from Riga Central Station (€2, 30 minutes). Jūrmala has several stations, but Majori is the most central.


By car

A fee of €2 is charged for entering the Jūrmala area by car. Entry is monitored with cameras and vehicles entering the area without a valid ticket will be fined €70.


By boat

Coordinates56°59.56' N; 23°55.33' E
Postal addressTīklu iela 10, Jūrmala, LV-2010, Latvia
Phone+371-26613344
E-mail[email protected]
Websitewww.jurmalasosta.lv/jahtklubs-jurmala/
VHF ChannelCh. 12
Capacity of Berth80 m bearths (pontoon), 30 boats
Depth on approach2.5 – 3.5 m
Depth alongside3.5 - 4.0 m
Neighbouring MarinasEngure 25NM Riga - Auda 4 NM
Public TransportLocal bus and train service to Riga.Airport Riga International - 14 km.
Directions for approachFrom Lielupe Safe Water buoy (57°01.5' N; 23°55.64'E) proceed along the channel marked by lateral buoys to River Lielupe estuary and then proceed to starboard in navigation Channel No.3 along the channel marked by lateral buoys. The marina berths are on starboard side of the river.
ServicesFresh water, WC, Disabled WC, Showers, Sauna, Security 24/7, Waste disposal, Grey water from holding tank disposal, Internet, Laundry, Boat and SUP rental.Sandy beach nearby

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Beaches

Jūrmala's beach is 33 km (21 mi) long, covered with white quartz sand. The shallow coastal waters are suitable and safe for children. The beach is equipped with playgrounds, small benches, football fields and volleyball courts, as well as descents for prams and wheelchairs. In Spring and Autumn amber pieces can be found on the beach.

Each region's beach has its own character. In Majori and Bulduri, where the Blue Flag flies, it is possible to rent water bicycles or relax in the beach cafe. In Dubulti and Dzintari competitions in beach football and volleyball take place, but on Pumpuri beach there is kite surfing and windsurfing.

International water sports contests, including rowing, sailing, and waterskiing that take place on the river Lielupe. In January 2012, Jūrmala hosted the 2012 Winter Swimming World Championships.

Shopping

Jomas iela features a number of boutiques and tourist-oriented shops.

Sights & Landmarks

The city is characterized by its wood architecture with gingerbread accents, cottage-style buildings, and resorts. Wood architecture is its most outstanding feature. Only Lielupe, Pumpuri, Melluži, Vaivari and Sloka have saved their wood train station buildings. Dzintari Concert Hall was built on the site of the once-famous Eidenburg amphitheater where the Eidenburg resort was opened in 1897. Now it is the most popular concert venue where international stars often perform.

The most notable recreation area was Horn Gardens, home to the first movie showing in Jūrmala and the first Latvian symphonic music performance. Majori Hotel was built next to Horn Gardens. Another historical building is Emīlija Rācene's Swimming Facility, built from 1911 to 1916 and was used as a medical institution. The sanatorium Marienbāde built in 1870 is located on the border of Dubulti and Majori and was once an expansive health and rest centre, but has experienced several fires.

Jūrmala is also the home to Latvia's only riding therapy center, the National Rehabilation Center "Vaivari". Riding was popular pastime in Jūrmala during the late 19th century, and people rode through the streets as well as on the beach. Later, riding on the beach was prohibited. Jūrmala Ethnographic Open-Air Museum houses examples of life as it once was in the fishing villages along the coast. Characteristic 19th century coastal fishing homestead includes the family home, barn, fish smoke house, sauna and other buildings. A rope-making workshop can be visited as well.

Things to do

The beaches in Jurmala are amazing, with breathtaking views of the bay as well as pine forests along the coastline. It is most famous for the amber production due to the unique landscape. There are several world renowned spas in Jurmala.

  • Livu Akvaparks24 Viestura St. The biggest water attraction in Northern Europe.
  • Dzintaru Mežaparks (Dzintari Forest Park). Contains many outdoor playground activities for children. During the winter, the park becomes the site of a cross-country skiing trail.

Festivals and events

During the Soviet era, Jūrmala was a venue for various festivals, including the pop music festival "Jūrmala" (1986–1993).

Since 2001 Jūrmala had hosted a competition for young pop singers, "New Wave", from all over Europe. It also hosted the "Singing KiViN" event each July. Due to the ban on Russian media personalities entering Latvia, both competitions were moved from Jūrmala.

The Jūrmala International Piano Competition, arranged by the City Council and the Latvian Piano Teachers Association in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of Latvia, for pianists of all nationalities aged 19 years and under, was established in 1994 and is held every two years in the "Dzintari" concert hall. As the International Academic Music Competition (with various categories), it reached its 11th Season in 2010.

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