Saldus is a city 125 km from Riga near a convenient highway. Its garden-enshrouded blocks create a picturesque, hill environment on both sides of the Ciecere River Valley.
History. In the early 13th century a Kurši castle stood by Lake Saldus. Saldus (Salden) is first mentioned in historical sources in 1253, when the territory was acquired by the Livonian Order in the division of the lands of Kurzeme. Before 1451 the Order built a castle (Frauenburg) which was part of the Kuldīga comture. A village grew up near the castle and in the 16th century a church was built. Swedish King Charles XII and his army staff spent the first winter of the Great Northern War (1701/1702) in Saldus village. As the war continued, both Saldus Castle and the village were razed to the ground.
The present city of Saldus only began to be established in the mid 19th century. Saldus gained a city charter in 1894, and in 1917 this charter was expanded. The city’s commercial life was boosted by the construction of a railway line (1929), and Saldus became a prosperous rural centre especially noted for its well-stocked markets.
Before World War I Saldus was ethnically the most Latvian city in Kurzeme. The first parade by the National Army of Latvia was held in the Saldus market square on March 10, 1919.
Places of interest. The city’s historic centre is concentrated around the old market square. The Saldus First Congregation Lutheran Church was built in the first half of the 18th century. However it took on its present architectural form much later, when it was rebuilt between 1898 and 1900as a three room basilica in accordance with a plan by the architect Vilhelms Neimanis. Several Mannerist wood carving fragments from the interior of the 16th century Lutheran church were integrated into the finishing of the transformed pulpit. The church houses the painting by the Jelgava Pastor Julius Döring "Jesus on the Cross" (1865), based on an example by Professor Jeger of Leipzig.
The Saldus Museum of History and Art is a good introduction to the life and work of Jānis Rozentāls(1866-1916), the classic Latvian painter born near Saldus. The museum is housed in the artist’s own workshop, which he designed himself and which was constructed in the late 19th century.