12 short stories and interesting facts about Tukums

Tukums hosts the first provincial art museum in Latvia. The Tukums Art Museum was founded in December 1935 and unveiled its first exhibition already on 5th January 1936. Here, over 85 years, one of the most valuable Latvian art collections of the first half of the 20th century has been formed. It contains several hundreds of Latvian painting and sculpture pieces. While the Art Museum is not open for visitors due to Covid-19 restrictions and a permanent exposition of this collection is not set up in the town, currently, you can examine 30 pieces of work on lantern posts in the Tukums Old Town. More about the Tukums Art Museum and its collection— www.tukumamuzejs.lv/makslas-muzejs

The tower of the St. Trinity Tukums Lutheran Church is the highest spot, from which to see the town of Tukums. The town can be examined here from a height of 23.5 metres. At certain times of the day, different church hymn melodies are heard from the house of worship. In 2020, the outstanding pianist Vestards Šimkus whose roots stem from this region offered to arrange and record the melodies. A total of 19 different digital clock melodies were recorded in a recording studio. The songs selected for arrangement are melodies that suit the flow of days and weeks. More about the tower of the Tukums Lutheran Church — www.tukumabaznica.lv/?ct=tornis

The oldest industrial company in Tukums — the former brewery. The building was constructed in 1874. The substantial and noticeable building later also hosted a factory of malt, enzymes and coffee. The factory ventilation equipment shaped like a sailing ship have become an integral part of the Tukums urban landscape and these are easy to spot, as you enter the town from Riga or Jelgava along what is now the Jelgava Street. At the place which once was infused with the aroma of coffee and spirits, now, a new culture space is taking shape dedicated to the world art Tukku Magi. Address: 26 Pasta Street, Tukums. More about Tukku Magi – www.tukkumagi.org

The Swiss-style building is the most commonly photographed building in Old Tukums. It is found in the old town, in the courtyard of 10 Harmonijas Street. It was constructed in 1908 and draws attention with the wood carvings and an ornate metal fence typically seen in Swiss-style summer houses. It looks like “a fairy tale house” both in the summer and in the winter. This is a nickname given by the locals.

The small building on Brīvības Square opposite the police station is called “The Mushroom” (Sēnīte) by locals. The nickname was given to it owing to its appearance. This building appeared in the town in the 1930-ties, when it housed the petrol station of “Shell Company of Latvia Ltd. London Ltd.”.

In Tukums, you can visit the first Straw Workshop in Latvia. Here, you can check out more than 500 unique hay/straw sculptures and dolls. These are fairy tale characters made of straw forming several thematic collections, alongside large-scale sculptures. The straw workshop-museum was created in 2010. More – www.salmulietas.lv

As you enter Tukums along Jelgavas Street and cross the bridge, you are crossing River Slocene, which zigzags through the town in a section of more than nine kilometres. Today, it is only between 0.5 and 2 metres deep, but in the first part of the 14th century, the river was harnessed to create a lake that facilitated the work of the mill and later also factories. Even as late as the first part of the 20th century, the lake was the town’s pride and among the most popular places for locals to relax. As suggested by postcards, it was the lake that enhanced the popularity of the slogan “Beautiful Tukums!” (Uz Tukumu pēc smukuma). Unfortunately, in 1947, the lake was drained, but perhaps we might see it again one day!

The Livonian Order Castle Tower is a fragment of the oldest building of Tukums — the Livonian Order Castle dating to approx. late 13th cent. It is believed that the construction of the castle in Tukums started in 1277. The castle was surrounded by a 7.5 metres tall and 1.6 metres thick wall. The castle defences included a moat and its favourable location on the high river bank. Only a fragment of the wall remains from the substantial Livonian Order Castle, but the Castle Tower constructed in the 18th century has housed a prison and the Crown’s granary. Now, it hosts the Tukums Town History Museum “Castle Tower”, which relates the town’s history from the ancient times until the modern day. More about the “Castle Tower” — www.tukumamuzejs.lv/pils-tornis

The Talsi Street in Tukums is the oldest trading route from the Daugava estuary to Germany which led through Tukums as early as the 13th century. Back in the day, it was nicknamed the Mokas Street, then Talsi and Vecmokas Street, thereby suggesting the settlement to which the road would take the traveller. Buildings started appearing here in late 18th and in the 19th century. The same types of buildings are still found on the street — single or two-storey wooden buildings with gardens. Several vegetable farms of Tukums were situated at the end of the street in the 1st part of the 20th century.

The Kaive Ancestral Oak Tree (Kaives Senču ozols) is the biggest oak tree in the Baltic states. Its circumference now exceeds 10 metres. Its appearance today is not as imposing as it used to be because already in the 1920-ties a lightning struck the crown of the tree, but in 1990, a half of the oak’s branches broke off. Only one branch remains now, but the oak tree continues to grow. Researchers believe that the Kaive oak tree is about 1000 years old.

“The bridge to nowhere” (Tilts uz Nekurieni) reminds us of the past intentions to build a narrow gauge railway between Tukums and Kuldīga; its construction was started during the first Latvian independence years in the 1930-ties by the engineer P. Pavulāns. But it has remained in people’s memories as a memorial of the German war, because there were attempts by the German rule in the 1940-ties to continue it and complete but they never did. The works were interrupted by WWII, but the bridge, which had been built, still stands intact in the meadow today. It is a bridge that leads nowhere. In 2008, “The bridge to nowhere” was included on the list of European Cultural Heritage “Unusual cultural heritage in Latvia”. 

Buck’s Hill (Āža kalns) in the Rauda Forest near Tukums is 480–520 metres long and around 109 m tall (though some sources say it is 123 m tall). When asked about the origins of the name of the hill, even the oldest residents of the area only shrug and say: “It is the shape. A buck, no doubt!” Indeed! The shape of the hill resembles the side view of a body of a buck: a tail, hind, curved back, a head with horns and a nose. The drop from the Buck’s forehead down to the nose is almost terrifying. The ascent offers a small adventure, which is why the Buck’s Trail was set up here. There are several stops on the Buck’s Hill: the buck’s tail, buck’s sacrum, buck’s back, neck and forehead. Each of these has a strong underground water energy. When the sky is clear, you can see the Durbe Manor in Tukums from the hill.

More information about points of interest in the town and vicinity: www.visittukums.lv