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PREIĻI (PRELY)

          Preiļi is on the western edge of the Central Latgale Highland (206 km from Riga and 63 km from Daugavpils). The town is located on the banks of the Preiļupe River, and the junction of five roads.
          History. Preiļi was first mentioned in written records in 1382, however several hill fortresses in the near vicinity testify that the area was inhabited at a much earlier date. The initial site of Preiļi is considered to be the oldest of these hill fortresses about 2.5 km from the current town, on the left bank of the Preiļupe.
          The growth of Preiļi was boosted by the granting of the district (15th century) to the natural von der Borh family, who were the proprietors until the mid 19th century. In the 17th – 18th centuries Dominican monks performed missionary work in Preiļi District, as did Jesuits from Daugavpils. In 1852 Preiļi was given a town charter. Around this time it had already become the main commercial centre of the region. For example, in 1865 Preiļi hosted eight annual fairs, at which the main goods for sale were iron products, agricultural products and manufactured goods. In the 1860s Preiļi became the property of the English citizen and merchant Johann Frederekss. Then in 1873 fictitious ownership of Preiļi Manor and therefore the town went over to Baron Johann von Ungern - Šternbergs, because after the Polish rebellion of 1863 the actual owner, the Polish nobleman Jan Mol, no longer had official rights to purchase real estate in Latgale. The town continued to grow in spite of the frequent ownership changes, and in 1928 Preiļi was granted a city charter.

             Places of interest. The pride of Preiļi is the manor building ensemble with its lovely landscape park, located near the city centre. The manor’s dwelling house (palace) built around the mid 19th century is the most impressive Historicist building in all of Latgale. The park’s origins go back further in time, but it gained its current appearance simultaneously with the building of the palace. A walk along the winding alleys today still gives a sense of the romance of the park created by the von der Borhs  (the park has a total area of 43 ha, of which almost a third comprises ponds and canals). On a small foothill near the gates you will find the family chapel of the Counts Borh (1817). This is a rotunda bearing light traces of Empire style – simple geometric forms are emphasized (round, cylindrical, hemispheric). This structure was used to hold religious services for the residents of the manor, while the count’s family vault is under the chapel.
          Walking down the alley which leads from the palace centre we come to the Preiļi Catholic Parish Church (1878 - 1886). This monumental, three-space basilica is built from a local material, grey field stone, whose attractive texture is enhanced by the red-brown brick edging.

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