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DURBE

          The town of Durbe is located 25 km east of Liepāja, on the shores of Lake Durbe. Durbe is connected with the brightest event in the struggle of the Baltic nations for their independence in the 13th century. On July 13, 1260, this was the sight of a battle between combined Livonian and German Order forces and Zemaitians supported by Kurši who went over to them after being drafted into the German ranks. The Order was routed in this battle, with Livonian Order Master Hornhuzen, the Prussian and Livonian marshalls, over 150 knights and many baptized soldiers all killed.
          The Durbe Order Castle was built on this site threatened by the Zemaitians in the 14th century due to intensive use of the Livonian-Prussian military road, and was also used as a mail station and roadside inn. The ruins indicate that the castle’s encircling wall embraced a courtyard measuring 60 x 63 m, while the residential wing was sited at the northern wall. Durbe village was established by artisans and merchants settling near the castle. During the Duchy of Kurzeme, the lord of the manor of Durbe resided in the castle, whose duty was to ensure the protection of the castle and to represent the duke’s interests in this district.
           Durbe Lutheran Church was built and consecrated in 1651 with the assistance of Duke Jēkabs. Its overall composition is a good example of the trends in 17th century Lutheran architecture to merge the congregation and altar rooms into a single space. The abutments on the building’s outer walls are indicative of continuing Gothic traditions in Northern European architecture. The style of the wooden sculptures in the church interior indicates that they were created in the first quarter of the 18th century and are hypothetically linked with the Liepāja wood sculptor Joahim Kreicfeld (?-1721). The main interior elements – the altar and pulpit – have been markedly transformed over the years. The Mannerist chandelier (1609) hanging in the church’s congregation room is a fine monument of applied art.
          The prominent Latvian linguist and publicist Atis Kronvalds (1837-1875) studied and worked in Durbe. It is also the birthplace of the outstanding diplomat and first foreign minister of the Republic of Latvia, Zigfrīds Meierovics (1887-1925).

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