Daugavpils Fortress – A Neoclassical Fortification in Latvia

by Arūnas
Daugavpils cietoksnis

Daugavpils Fortress (Latvian: Daugavpils cietoksnis) is an early 19th-century Neoclassical fortification in Latvia, and the last bastion-type fortress to be built in the world. Its territory comprises 35 individual historical monuments.

Interesting historical facts about Daugavpils Fortress:

  • Plans for the fortress were validated in 1772 by Russian Tsar Alexander I, and construction started in 1810 in anticipation of Napoleon’s Army attack on the Russian Empire. 
  • In the years 1914 and 1917, the 5th army headquarter of the Imperial Russian Army was located here – the First World War brought the fortress at war.
  • During World War II, Nazis arranged a Jewish ghetto and a camp for Soviet prisoners of war in the fortress territory.
  • From 1948 to 1993, Daugavpils Military School of aviation engineers was housed here.

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Daugavpils Fortress Architecture

The fortress was constructed according to the project of the Latvian engineer Georgs Heinrihs Hekels. All facades of the buildings exemplify the Empire style (the second phase of Neoclassicism), with the exception of the Neo-Gothic Nicholas Gate and the Water Lifting House.

The Nicholas Gate was built from 1824 to 1827, and has lateral chambers on both sides of the central passageway – in tsarist time they were used as guard and prisoners rooms. They are now fitted with modern lighting enabling to use them as exhibition halls.

In order to prevent the enemy from reaching the main rampart of the fortress, its walls were separated from the external fortifications with the help of a moat.

In the years 1840 and 1844, the impressive two-story building of the engineer arsenal was built in the Empire style. It has preserved its ramps going to the second floor of the building from the yard. The arsenal was used to make and repair armament supplies.

To support the citadel’s needs, a considerable number of various warehouses were built in the fortress territory. Some of them were used for powder magazines, others to store the fortress food supplies.

Nowadays, nine old cannons can be found here: five of them are from cast-iron, while four made from steel. They were manufactured in the second half of the 19th century in the cities of Perm and Obukhov (Russia).

Daugavpils Fortress is an architectural and urban monument of national significance and a special protected area under Latvian law.

Address: Nikolaja iela 5, Daugavpils, LV-5401, Latvia

Official website: Dinaburgas cietoksnis

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