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AIZPUTE (HASENPOTH)

          Aizpute, one of the oldest towns in Latvia, is located on the banks of the Tebra River, 50 km northeast of Liepāja. In the 13th century there was a Kurši castle at this spot where the land transit road from Prussia met the Tebra waterway. Not far from here, in the 13th and 14th century a stone Livonian Order and a Kursa Church with a cathedral building were constructed, each on its own shore of the Tebra. Aizpute is first mentioned as a cathedral city in a privileges proclamation of 1378 by which it was granted a city charter. In the 17th century Aizpute was a significant commercial centre with a convenient port at the outflow of the Tebra into the Saka River. In 1795 the town became the administrative centre of the district. However, with the growing role of the port of Liepāja, Aizpute gradually declined and never regained its earlier importance in the region.
           A tour of Aizpute’s top sites should start with the Order Castle (first mentioned in written records in 1341), the former administrative and commercial centre of the Aizpute district of the Kuldīga region. In its day the castle was the fortification marking the border between the lands of the Order and those of the Bishop, and also functioned as a mail station and hotel (a so-called Wegekastell). The castle is a small (43 x 39 m) structure with one wing on the eastern side. The engraving on the courtyard façade rendering (turn of the 16th -17th centuries) is an excellently crafted work of art and is unique in the region.
          Although the origins of Aizpute Lutheran Church stretch back to the cathedral capital era, reconstructions in the 18th century and the 1880s changed its dimensions beyond recognition. Nevertheless, the footprints of the Kursa Bishop’s resident church can still be seen in the southern façade of the monumental structure as well as the tower and its abutting stone walls. Of special note in the church’s interior are the gravestone of Bishop Heinrich Bazedov (1523) and Johann Lebereht Egink’s painting "Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane" (1833).
          A range of Rococo and Classicist 18th century residential houses can be seen in the historic centre of Aizpute.

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