Legend has it that in 1670 Duke Jēkabs of Kurzeme came hunting and hunted a lynx in the forest near the Daugava. Overwhelmed by his successful hunting, he gave the town rights to the settlement near the Sala Inn, where the duke was staying, and gave it the name Jacobstadt in his honor, which we know today as Jēkabpili.
In honor of this, in the Jēkabpils Old Town Square, the city’s symbol – the lynx – welcomes the guests of the city. It is said that a wish whispered into its earpiece comes true.
The Daugava, as a trade highway, as a war road, as a border river, has brought to the city so many different layers of culture that other cities can rarely boast of. The residents of the city honor and protect this value as the uniqueness of the multinational Jēkabpils. It is significant that the domes of the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit stand out most clearly in the silhouette of the left bank, which can be seen magnificently against the background of the Daugava covered in the evening sun. The only male monastery in the Baltics is also located here.
On the other hand, on the right bank, in the Krustpils castle, the oldest values created from the 13th century under the influence of German culture, as well as the evidence of other centuries are kept until today.
The historical centers of the city, the old network of streets, have been preserved on both sides of the city.
The ancient, beautiful and valuable can be found not only in the palace and noble churches. On the left bank of the river, the shape of the city center is made more proud by the former county school building with massive columns on the main facade, built in 1820. Also the building of the former Miertiesa (now the county council), built in 1880, with a facade decorated with richly profiled window frames and cornices in the eclectic style. On both sides of the Daugava – the oldest streets can be proud of many houses built of special profiled red clay bricks, with luxurious facades, which characterize Jēkabpils. Wooden residential houses are peculiarly valuable, reflecting the building traditions of the people and the skill of trained craftsmen. There you can see both the lasting investment of Old Believer carpenters in wooden architecture, and the tradition that came from Latgale – to build a courtyard fenced with a dense fence and gates.
You can casually run past all this and not realize that energy and strength can be gained from the presence of the old town, from the close, tangible, convenient scale. Jēkabpils wakes up next to the Daugava every morning. Both sides look at each other in surprise, because something has changed again.
Like a hawk’s wings spread out for flight, the Jēkabpils region clings to both banks of the Daugava, which is both separated and divided by the wide expanse of the river’s waters, but also unites and holds it together. It does not really give back the Krustpils side to Latgale, it does not allow it to fully merge with the expanses of Selia to the coast of Jēkabpils. And the city – its nature does not really belong to any region. Because it was raised by the Daugava. belonging to Daugava. Placed at the crossroads.
Jēkabpils grew up on the banks of the Daugava – in a place where the stream of the river, having hit a cluster of picturesque islands, begins to wave and toss around in bends and bends. Ahead are wide shoals of gravel drifts and wide stone thresholds to be crossed. It is the Daugava’s largest rapid, which stretches for four kilometers and has been the greatest fear of river riders since ancient times.
Perhaps this dangerous stretch of the road was an excuse for sailors from distant lands to first land and catch their breath. They had only a glimpse of the world beyond the far bend in the river. Perhaps this is how the myth arose that the Daugava begins in the sky – in an unknown and unreachable place – but still comes to everyone who lives on its banks. Today, Jēkabpils county consists of the state capital – Jēkabpils, two towns – Aknīste and Viesīte, and 22 parishes.
The memory of the people of Jēkabpils region can be compared to a river that flows through time: the past, present and future together form the flow of time in which we live. Locals know the old saying that it is impossible to step into the same river twice, it flows and changes with us. However, it will always remain a river, and not simply a flow of water, as long as it has its own name and meaning in the consciousness of the people of Jēkabpils region who live on its banks.