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ĒDOLE (EDWAHLEN)

          Ēdole (20 km from Kuldīga, 9 km from Alsunga) is an ancient inhabited site whose name was mentioned as Edualia in the treaty between Alnas Balduīna and the Kurši.
          In the time of the Confederation of Livonia, Ēdole Castle was part of the Bishopric of Kurzeme and was a manor belonging to the Kurzeme cathedral capital. In 1559 King Frederick II of Denmark purchased the bishopric for his brother Magnuss. This transaction was opposed by the last cathedral dean of the bishopric, Ulrich von Ber of Hanover, who was a pretender to the bishop’s seat. In order to settle these differences, in 1561 Magnuss wrote off large tracts of land in Kurzeme, including Ēdole, to the cathedral dean as a hereditary possession. The von Ber family was the owner of Ēdole from that moment to the 20th century.
          It is believed that construction of the castle began on the upper banks of the Vanka Stream in the 14th century. The structure’s northwest wind was built first, followed by the southwest wing, after which the two were linked by a connecting fortified wall and a gate tower in the south-eastern wall. In this way an enclosed courtyard was formed. The impressive structure gained its current appearance following reconstruction in 1840, when it was extended considerably. The castle’s reconstruction was headed by Adolf von Ber, after returning home from studies in Gottingen where one of his fellow students was the later Chancellor of Germany Otto von Bismarck.
          The castle was burned down in the 1905 Revolution, but it was restored to its earlier appearance by Alexander von Ber between 1906 and 1911. Before World War I the structure gained a new farm courtyard which is divided off by a masonry wall with the Alexander Tower.

          A beautiful park (7.5 ha) encircles the castle with several dozen secular trees. Until recently the popular Rūķīšu (Elves’) oak also stood there, which is the subject of various legends about the fates of the castle’s masters.
          Built in 1648, Ēdole Lutheran Church is an important architectural and artistic monument located near the castle in the centre of Ēdole. The congregation space, broad and undivided, is richly decorated with artistically valuable wood carvings and paintings. Prominent amongst these are the Mannerist altar table and pulpit (mid 17th century), as well as the Rococo organ backcloth and noblemen’s pew with paintings in side galleries depicting scenes from the life of Jesus (second half of the 18th century). The church is home to one of the oldest organs in Latvia. The instrument was made by the Tukums organ master Kristofs Vilhelms Bravelaits in 1786.
          The later leader of the Young Latvians movement and outstanding promoter of navigation in Russia and the Baltic Krišjānis Valdemārs (1825-1891) worked in Ēdole as a secretary in 1847 and 1848. In order to popularize current social and economic issues, he founded the so-called Society for Bailing out the Sea in Ēdole, which brought together the most active segment of the local youth. The "sea bailers" held their meetings on an artificial romantic island in the middle of the Ēdole Manor mill pond, which can still be seen today.
          In 1848 Valdemārs established the first Latvian country library in Ēdole. It was under the wing of the local priest and Latvian folklore collector Kārlis Gotlībs Šmits (1794-1875) in the vestry of the Ēdole church.

 

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