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VARAKĻĀNI (WARKLAND)

           44 km west of Rēzekne is the typical Latgale small town of Varakļāni (which gained a town charter in 1928). From 1583 the Varakļāni district belonged to the family of Count von der Borh. The prospects of the town radically improved in the last quarter of the 18th century when the son of the Polish Great Chancellor and the son-in-law of Governor General of Vidzeme Count George Braun, Mihail Jan von der Borh (1751 - 1811), who was well known for his great achievements as a scientist and statesman, moved to Varakļāni and began ambitious construction works. This erudite, spiritually sophisticated Polish aristocrat believed that “art must be sublime; it must encourage virtue and the desire to live a useful life.” The Classicist ideals were closest to his heart, and Count von der Borh realized these in creating the Varakļāni Manor residential building ensemble and park (1783 - 1789). He realized his creative ambitions with the assistance of the Italian architect and garden designer Vinzenzo Mazotti (1756 - 1798). In recent years the castle has experienced a rebirth. An interesting museum has been established inside it and rediscovered 18th century frescoes which are awaiting restoration.
           On a small foothill in the centre of Varakļāni you will find a miniature “Pantheon” – the Count von der Borh family chapel (1814). In the early 19th century this type of rotunda was widespread throughout Latgale.
          Not far from Varakļāni Manor is the local Catholic parish church (mid 19th century), which was consecrated in honour of the “Ascension of the Virgin Mary” in 1857. The building of this respectable Historicist church was financed by Count Carol von der Borh. According to unconfirmed information, the church’s marble altars may have been fashioned in Italy.

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