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The district of Madona is situated in the east of Latvia. Its western part consists of the Central Vidzemes Height with the highest hill of Latvia, the Gaizins (311.5 m above sea level). The district of Madona has 8 of the 10 highest points in Latvia (hills and summits). One-hundred and eighty-nine lakes with an area of over 1 ha are located in the eastern and southern areas. The surroundings of the Lake Lubana are well known in Europe as an historical place since the discovery of about 300 stone age dwellings. The oldest were inhabited 8000 years ago. Ornaments of amber were made there around the year 3000 B.C.
During the Livonian period (13th - 16th century), the region belonged to the archbishop of Riga. In the 17th century, it was the border district of Swedish Livonia and its Polish part. This division gave rise to the ethnographic differences between the Vidzeme (Livonian) and Latgale. Up until World War II, the dairy business became highly important economically. Currently the largest dairy enterprises are in Cesvaine and Lazdona. Forest occupies 46% of the district, so timber cutting and woodworking are of great importance. The largest enterprise is the ‘Holzwerke Lubana SIA’.
Agriculture not only contributes to the economy, but it is also a tradition, and 63% of the land is fertile. The two most important areas of farming are dairy cattle and the cultivation of commercial crops like barley, rye, wheat, and oats.
There are 35 educational establishments in the Madona district (grammar schools, primary schools, middle schools, private schools and schools of agriculture) and 17 kindergartens.
The people can sing, dance, play music, act and participate in folklore groups in a large number of amateur artistic groups.
The district has art schools in Ergli and Lubana, and music schools in Ergli, Cesvaine and Varaklani. The Madona Art School was founded in 1975 as the first school of its kind in the country.
The traditions of Madona and its vicinity are:
Song and Dance Festivals for all ages, Theatre days, Little Singer Festival Calisi(Chicken), Singing families event, Spiets(Swarm), Pop Music Festival Sinepes un Medus (Mustard and Honey), sports events and other competitions.
|The Madona Museum of
Local History and Art, provides information about the past and present. Exhibitions and
meetings regularly take place there. The original houses of the writer R. Blaumanis of Braki and the Jurjani brothers (musicians of Mengeli), are now museums in memory of them.
In 1996 the reunion of the whole Jurjani family took place there.
Skiers can enjoy the snow in the region of Madona even when it has thawed elsewhere in Latvia. Nearly the whole of Madona is suitable for skiing, and Latvian championships are organised here.
The Madona district has co-operation agreements with Anikscai (Lithuania), Rapla (Estonia), Weye (Germany), Coulaines (France) and friendly contacts with Chinon (France) and Nurmijarve (Finland).
The convenient geographical situation of the district of Madona, its rich historical and cultural heritage, landscapes and scenery and the clean air, makes Madona an ideal area for tourism.
The following places are very good for walking or cycling:
Madona, Cesvaine, Ergli, Teici forest reserve, Vestiena and Kalsnava.
The palace of the mineralogist Count M. Borch in Varaklani, Cesvaine Estate and Church, the grave monument of the first Latvian army commander O. Kalpaks at Visagala Cemetery. The museums in Braki and Mengeli, and the museum of the operatic singer Janis Zabers. You can also meet interesting artists, essay writers and craftsmen.
There is a tourism Bureau in Madona.
There are also two large state protected forest areas in Teici, which, with its 19,047 ha, is the largest protected marsh in the Baltic, and Krustkalni. There are a number of smaller protected features and parks in the Gaizins, the Nesaules hill, the islets in the Kala lake and the Jumurdas lake.
The snowy Vidzeme in the vicinity of the
An important geological feature is the Bolenu spring (not far from the Gaizins), one of the Latvian Holy springs. There are interesting and active people in Madona, changeable landscapes and contrasting weather.
The towns emblem is the Cock, which always wakes everyone up for the new day and new work.
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