UNDER THE WINGS OF PEGASUS AND MUSES
Those who walked this summer in the historical center of Jurmala past the concert hall “Dzintari” could not fail to notice the majestic and graceful castle – an example of wooden architecture in the spirit of late Art Nouveau. It comfortably houses a restaurant and a hotel with the beautiful name of Pegasa Pils – “Pegasus Palace”. The iron fence that encloses it moves in waves, as if warning: “…traveler, you are moving towards the sea.” Built in 1900, the building is a historically significant Latvian landmark. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, it served as a place of rest for guests of Jurmala and transferred its unique style and mission to our days. Today, magnificent weddings, anniversaries and banquets are often held here, as well as local and foreign musiciants, artists and celebrities have a rest!
In the historical center of Jurmala, at the corner of Turaidas and Juras streets, there is a land plot of over 10,000 sq. m, where German barons used to walk in the famous Lido restaurant and relax in guest houses. The entire center was owned by the Michelson dynasty. But the Soviet authorities exiled their daughter to Siberia, although the family itself remained in Riga and survived. But during the war, they disappeared into the Nazi reservation. Thus, both Stalin’s and Hitler’s “skating rink” passed through the Michelson family. But the heiress who remained in Siberia had a daughter, and then a grandson, to whom the very plot on the street passed. Juras, 60. Until the 1990s, housed a sanatorium named after Jan Fabricius, where many Soviet politics Party bosses were treated – Kosygin, Brezhnev, Andropov and others.
On September 19, 2003, after two years of research, design and restoration work, the first stage of the Pegasus Palace was opened – a restaurant, a hotel and a sauna. “Pegas Castle” is located in the historical center of Jurmala. Just 20 meters away, in the Dzintari Concert Hall, musical events take place, and just 50 meters away there are sea waves wash the golden sand of the Gulf of Riga beach. The famous Jomas Street is also within easy reach.
Here, in the very heart of the resort town, the Pegasa Pils project manager creates “Jurmala in miniature”. The existing building (late Art Nouveau of the 19th century) will be joined in a year by the second part of the castle, reconstructed and maintained in the style of architecture of the early Art Nouveau of the 17th-18th centuries. All this will be connected by a glass gallery and a building of 10-12 floors, unprecedented for these places – a symbol of modern art nouveau architecture of the 21st century, crowned with an observation deck and a swimming pool. Sounds unbelievable? By no means…
BATTLE FOR STYLE
– In the 80s, a two-story building with a protruding tower was located here. When the object was denationalized, the authorities demanded to restore it, to return its original appearance, because it is an heritage-listed building protected by the state, – the head of the Pegasa Palace project begins his story. – Here the question arose: what is this initial view, how was it in reality? I myself am a doctor of technical sciences, and this is how a stubborn scientist of the hardening of the last century began to search for the truth! He carried out scientific research on the architecture of Jurmala in the late Art Nouveau of the 19th century and convinced all the commissions that it should be restored here!
For example, I say: here is the door to the street on the second floor, where does it lead? There should be a balcony here! And there was a balcony overlooking Turaidas Street. The tower also has a door to the roof. Is it really made to walk on the roof? There should be a third floor, an attic! It’s just that it was burned or demolished in Soviet times. And there was an attic. Move on. Where did you see that in the Baltics the roof of the tower was flat? So it must be pointed! And there was a tower. Interestingly, the current building was rebuilt twice – in 1939 and 1960. But everything that was added then rotted away, and the original walls, erected back in 1900, have been preserved. Therefore, all the architectural details of the hotel that you now see – triangular windows, wooden decorative elements and everything else, were restored not because I wanted to, and such they were conceived by the architect at the end of the 19th century. We have established this through scientific research.
It took two whole years to prove, agree, design and reconstruct. In September 2001, the building passed to us, and in September 2003 we put it into operation. During this time, 21 architects have changed here! The problem is that there is no bad nation in the world, there are bad people. As soon as I had an architect with a “specialty” Latvian, Russian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Jew, and so on, we said goodbye to him. An architect should not have a nationality, he should be ar-hi-tect! To create this way and not otherwise, because this return to the origins fits into the architecture of Jurmala and Art Nouveau of the 19th century, and not because, for example, I am Russian and I want to. In Germany – German houses, in Canada – Canadian. This means that there should be Jurmala houses in Jurmala, and not Latvian, Russian or Jewish ones.
There were many troubles and disputes, but as a result, the project was approved by the Jurmala Construction Department in one day – an unheard of short time, this has never happened before! No wonder I fought for every detail, for every window. This is the historical center of Jurmala, which must be preserved, groomed and cherished. You have to love the country you live in…
But, as it turned out, that was not all. While we were compiling the “passport of colors” of the restored building, 28 tests were made and 6 more architects were replaced. We were looking for another color together with the construction department! For some reason, they did not want to allow the house to be painted in a yellow-green tone. I had to do research, and it was proved: Rastrelli’s works – the Winter Palace, Warsaw palaces, French palaces – have exactly the same color as our Pegasa Palace. This is how we proved our position.
As you can see, a total of 27 architects had a hand here. While we were reconstructing the late Art Nouveau, we had to prove and convince everyone, almost everyone, to get rid of Russification, Latvianization, and so on. There were many disputes, but we managed to convince them, based on scientific research, architectural monuments of Jurmala. We found understanding on the part of many architects, defenders of architectural monuments. Low bow to them and Latvian thanks! Now we have very good relations with both the construction department and the commission for the protection of architectural monuments. These people are truly “iron-built”, they love Jurmala very much and really want the revival of the “Mecca of tourism” of Latvia, and when you argue your position with them not with personal whims, but with real facts and logic, they go forward.
The entire architecture of the building was restored bit by bit, by understanding the concept of an unknown architect in 1900. Everything was strictly logical. Right now, there is a fireplace in the restaurant hall on the side of Juras street. When I entered the still dilapidated building and saw this place, I immediately said: here I will have a fireplace, and here a violinist will play. It just felt like this. They told me: stop this nonsense! But on September 19, we opened, on the 22nd I go into the hall, and a violinist plays near the fireplace! A cold sweat ran through me… Now this musician works for us.
…AND THE HAIR OF MEDUSA GORGON
The elegant Pegasa Palace becomes one of the symbols of Jurmala – it’s hard to pass by without looking at it. The entire first and half of the second floor is occupied by a restaurant and two banquet halls. The second also has a sauna and a conference room. In the other half of the second floor and on the third, there are 14 rooms – from simple to presidential. The creators paid great attention to the details. Climbing the real creaky wooden staircase to the second floor, you will again meet the late Art Nouveau. By the way, in order to “support the domestic manufacturer”, all the furniture was ordered from Latvian ash. In the hotel, you can go out to the balcony and watch people walking along Turaidas Street or listen to the music coming from the Dzintari Concert Hall. Even the chandeliers in the restaurant hall are not so curved by chance – these are the hair of the Gorgon Medusa, from whose body Pegasus was born.
The conference hall for 30 people is designed in the spirit of antiquity. Foreign delegations love to hold their seminars and conferences here. Foreigners simply melt at the sight of Jurmala wooden architecture. An ultra-modern sauna adjoins the hall, so if desired, it easily turns into a banquet.
The project manager affectionately calls the tower of the wooden castle “Pisan”, because it is tilted inward by 21 centimeters. When this was discovered, it was necessary to completely disassemble it and put it back together. But he decided that the masters of the 19th century did an excellent job, it is hardly worth touching our contemporaries – will they be able to restore everything? And so it will stand for another hundred or two hundred years as good as new. After all, during the reconstruction, the entire building was raised on jacks and a foundation of B-20 concrete almost a meter thick was poured, which you cannot demolish even with a bomb.
But now in Latvia there are two unique bedrooms in the Leaning Tower of Pisa. On the second floor there is the “Romantic” room: newlyweds, anniversaries and just romantics love to rent it. During the New Wave festival, by the way, Kristina Orbakaite lived in it. And on the third floor, in the “Presidential Suite”, the patron of the festival is located. The design of all rooms is completely different, but they are similar in their “toy” comfort. Every detail is thought out in them: from the bedspread on the bed to the curtains and carpets. Everywhere there is wooden furniture, either restored antique or made to order by our own Latvian craftsmen. I would like to become a guest of Jurmala to spend the night in such a bedroom. Or get married to live a little in “Romance” …
… To live under the shadow of Pegasus and the Muse, which will give you good luck for life. Here, from the windows of the bedroom in the tower, from which only 20 meters to the concert hall, you can see the historical center of the tourist “Mecca of Latvia” – Jurmala. And 50 meters away, the amber waves of the Gulf of Riga splash, on the shore of which Ligo bonfires burn on the longest summer night.
COAT OF ARMS FOR THE CASTLE
At first, the project manager wanted to call his brainchild Pegass & Jūra. But once, when the restoration work was already coming to an end, right near the house our enthusiast was caught by the sleeve by a Latvian grandmother. Shedding tears and confusing Latvian and Russian words, she was glad that Jurmala was being reconstructed and restored. “Finally, Jurmala began to breathe,” the old woman said. “There used to be a Castle here, and you almost exactly recreated it!” And so the name Pils (Palace) appeared – literally the Castle.
And why the palace is “Pegasus”? It’s just that this symbol is international, it does not lean towards either Latvian or Russian flavor, so that no one would be offended. Pegasus brings inspiration and good luck, and everyone who visits the Pegasa Pils castle will be taken under their wing by Pegasus and Muse.
What is a castle without a coat of arms? And it has been designed. Against the background of the building itself, next to Pegasus, a woman is visible on the coat of arms. This is the muse on which the luck and life of every man and family depends by 80 percent! Above the main characters is a crown in which four stars are inscribed. Under the feet of a woman, her sign is Aries. And the young and perky Pegasus is destined for Scorpio. The shield framing them protects the building and its inhabitants. Green branches are visible on the shield, because Latvia is an agrarian country, as well as a traditional Latvian ornament.
The weather vane on the tower is forged as an element of the coat of arms. And the locals noticed that if on a summer day the Muse points to the sea on a weather vane, it means that the water is warm and you can go swimming. If you turn away – the water is cold, you don’t even have to go ashore.
CITY OF SUN
On the territory of the current Pegasa Pils, there was once a sanatorium named after Jan Fabricius, a hydropathic facility. The project manager wants to recreate something similar, only in a modern way it will be called SPA Resort, where there a beauty salon, bathhouse, jacuzzi, swimming pool and other delights will open.
Two more buildings are next in line – buildings in the spirit of the early Art Nouveau (XVII-XVIII centuries), as well as the third object – an example of modern architecture, but always with the same sophistication. The project of the “ancient” building, also with a turret (so that there was a real castle), is ready, and the first floor has already been erected. By the summer season of 2005, they are already hoping to receive guests here. There will be 26 more rooms and a fitness center.
They want to raise a modern new building to a height of 10-12 floors. At the top, equip an observation deck overlooking the sea, a small pool and a restaurant. The lower floors are planned to be completely given over to water relaxation. In addition, there will be a tourist center. Already, tour operators bring groups to Pegasa Pils and the manager conducts tours around it and its surroundings.
“It’s unpleasant for me to see when a whole bus of tourists is brought in, taken out to the sea in single file, brought back and taken away, as if there is nothing more to show! – the interlocutor is indignant. – And now we have developed tourist routes in the center of Jurmala with a visit to the restaurant, the “Leaning Tower of Pisa”. This is our Pegasa Pils, this is “Jurmala in miniature”, it combines three eras: the 17th-18th centuries – early art nouveau, the 19th century – late art nouveau, the 21st century – modern art nouveau. We have something to tell and show to the guests. The more information about us they take away, the more guests will come to us.
Meanwhile, the design of the 12-storey complex is in full swing. And if the situation develops normally, by the end of 2005 it is planned to start contract work, which will last for two or three years. The most difficult thing, of course, will be to obtain permission to build such a high-rise. But even here our doctor of sciences has his own thoughts.
– On our territory there are two pipes with a height of 10-12 floors. I believe that I can reconstruct the building just to this level. It’s inside the lot and doesn’t go outside, so that’s my right. The general architectural landscape will not be disturbed. Why did generations of past centuries leave their buildings to us, but we cannot? The fully rebuilt complex will have about 150 rooms and about 150-200 staff members. This is how we create jobs.
Here the “City of the Sun” will unfold, just like Tommaso Campanella, where people work and rejoice. Generations will change, passing on the love for work and for this place.
A brief excursion into the history of Jurmala resort
Jurmala has been a favorite place for Rigans and guests of Riga at all times: just a half-hour drive from the center, a city dweller has the opportunity to escape from the oppressive heat on the shores of the cool sea, soak up the light beach sand, swim, take a walk along the quiet streets. Jurmala is dunes, freely spreading pine forests, intricate wooden buildings. And the healing effect of its natural parks was discovered in the 19th century, when the construction of sanatoriums and rest houses began in these places.
Already at the very beginning of the nineteenth century, Jurmala began to gradually turn into a resort town. Beach holidays came into fashion and began to be cultivated. The first holiday home was opened here in 1824, and a little less than a decade later the first hotel. In the 30s of the 19th century, the city began to be built up with dachas, but perhaps the most important event that influenced the resort took place in 1877, namely, the Riga-Tukums railway line began to function. The next heyday for Jurmala was the 70-80s of the 20th century. In those years, the city became a very popular and prestigious holiday destination for citizens of the entire former USSR. It has always been a resort with a slight western touch. Over the past few years, the resort has revived again, began to develop quite intensively after a lull, which, of course, cannot but rejoice.
1. In 1920, the settlements on the Riga coast were merged into a city with the name Jurmala (the status of the city was temporarily taken away in 1945, when this territory was administratively annexed to Riga, in which Jurmala was included until 1959).
1950 – a section of the Riga-Tukums electrified railway was opened, going to Dubulta, in 1951 it was extended to Sloka and Kemeri
1959 – the resort city of Jurmala was re-established, combining the Jurmala region of the city of Riga, Sloka and Kemeri, and also Priedaine settlements of the Riga region and a part of Kudra
1960 – the first document on the planning of Jurmala was developed – a scheme of the general plan of the city. The construction of multi-apartment residential buildings began in
1970-1975 – public buildings and hospitals were built:
- Dzintari Concert Hall (summer stage)
- House of Soviets (currently – the building of the City Duma)
- House of Artists
- House of creativity of writers in Dubulti
- Sanatorium “Jaunkemeri” (1970, 500 seats)
- Hotel “Jurmala” in Majori (9 floors, opened in 1974, 360 seats)
- City stadium in Lielupe
- Sleeping building (320 places) in the sanatorium “Baltija”
- complex in the sanatorium “Belarus” in Bulduri
- boarding house of the Academy of Sciences in Lielupe (220 beds)
- expanded campsite in Melluzi
1976 – an air bridge was opened for vehicles across the railway near the Dzintari station;
1981 – the newspaper “Jūrmala” begins to be published in Latvian and Russian languages
1982 – the hotel of the Academy of Sciences was built, which has a conference hall – the venue for international scientific events in Dzintari was opened the palace of games and attractions “Daile” (currently is privately owned)
September 1986 – a meeting of representatives of the public of the USA and the USSR and a conference were held in the Dzintari Concert Hall, which was broadcast in the mass media around the world for five days. The initiators of the conference are the American Chatokqua Institute and the Institute of International Relations. D. Eisenhower. Among the 250 American representatives was Susan Eisenhower and many well-known US politicians, diplomats and journalists
1988 – the Jurmala branch of the Popular Front was founded
1989 – the State Tennis Center was built in Lielupe – the venue for international sports competitions
1990 – an assessment of cultural and cultural historical heritage of Jurmala in order to ensure its preservation and care
1992 – temporary rules for the development of the city of Jurmala were issued
1995 – Jurmala City Development Plan adopted
1997 – part of the city territory included in the newly formed Ķemeri National Park
1998 – the first water amusement park was opened in Jurmala
1998 – The European Council included the historical center of Jurmala and part of the wooden buildings cities in the draft list of cultural and natural world heritage of UNESCO.
2. During the Soviet times, Jurmala received the status of an all-Union resort. At the end of the 60s, planning and construction began, which contradicted the past traditions of the nature of development, the construction of wooden summer houses and private houses, resort life, formed in the course of historical development.
Let’s turn to the numbers. For example, in 1914, 70-78 thousand summer houses residents visited Jurmala, in 1940 – 40 thousand. And during Soviet times, the number of visitors to Jurmala only on weekends reached 300 – 400 thousand people. The number of seats in cafes, canteens, restaurants and buffets in Jurmala in 1974 exceeded 10 thousand. During the year, Jurmala was visited by more than 6 million people from all over the Soviet Union (keep in mind that at that time the population of Latvia was just about 2.5 million inhabitants).
The construction of sanatoriums and rest houses began, intended for various enterprises in both Latvia and many other SU republics. Silicate bricks and prefabricated reinforced concrete structures were widely used in construction. The complexes created for treatment and recreation have moved from the seasonal rhythm of work to work all year round. In Jurmala, the population rapidly increased, the construction of residential areas began. Kaugurciems has become the largest residential area in Jurmala with multi-storey buildings. Built in 1974, the Kaugurciems secondary school was designed for 1,000 students.
The construction of industrial facilities also began. Many of them were unique. For example, the Dzintars factory was the only enterprise in the USSR where sports rowing boats were built – kayaks, canoes and academic boats. In the 70s, about 6,000 boats were produced here a year.
The intensive development of industry created a danger to the environment. Lielupe especially suffered, where it was forbidden to swim, pollution of the Baltic Sea increased, which threatened the development of Jurmala as a resort.
The study of the cultural and historical heritage of Jurmala was started late – only in the 70s. During the period after the Second World War, many architecturally and historically significant buildings were irretrievably lost, as well as many valuable works of art made by artists and highly skilled craftsmen were damaged and lost.
Jurmala is a unique combination of unhurried waters of the cool Gulf of Riga, golden sandy beaches and pine forests. It is equally good to rest here in the cold season and, of course, in summer. It is noteworthy that this truly paradise is located some 20 km from the capital, which makes it easily accessible at any time. Just 20 minutes by car or train and you are there. In the winter season, peace and solitude reign in Jurmala. It’s so nice to just wander along the sea, feeling how the salty sea air fills your lungs, and the sound of water drives out all bad thoughts from your head. And if you are very lucky, and the sea wants to give you a gift, then perhaps you will even find an amber. The neighborhood of pines and the sea makes the air healing. No wonder it is in Jurmala that there are many hospitals and sanatoriums. Enjoying the bay, you can go for a walk along the quiet streets of the resort at that time, built up with amazingly beautiful wooden buildings (in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles) of the past and elegant mansions of the current elite. After such a fascinating walk, you will definitely want to warm up with a cup of fragrant hot coffee. Here it is the real rest of the soul and body! An oasis of peace and quiet.
If the time of your visit to Jurmala fell on the summer season, then get ready – the resort will appear before you in all its splendor. At your service are wonderful beaches with soft golden sand, equipped with volleyball fields and playgrounds. You can ride a catamaran or a jet ski, there are tents with soft drinks and ice cream and, of course, the sea, the amber-clear waters of which delightfully refresh the skin after sunbathing. In general, you just have to decide – just lie down enjoying the sun or choose an active holiday. By the way, Jurmala beaches meet the most stringent European requirements, as evidenced by the EU blue flag.
You will not be bored in the evening either, because life in Jurmala in the summer season does not stop for a second. In the Dzintari Concert Hall, various concerts and festivals are held throughout the season, such as: New Wave, Jurmala, KVN. There are clubs, restaurants and cafes, discos are held on the beaches. Of course, the highlight of the resort is the already famous Jomas Street. Lively and always full of people. This pedestrian street is almost entirely strewn with various small shops offering all sorts of things, restaurants always ready to provide you with a delicious lunch or dinner, many cafes where you can treat yourself to ice cream, a cocktail or a glass of cold beer while sitting in the shade.
We also recommend that you definitely visit the Livu water park, by the way, the largest in northern Europe. Its numerous attractions (more than 40) will appeal to both children and adults. The water park is open all year round.
Rest assured, there will be a lot of impressions from the rest, and the main souvenir, golden tan, will delight you for a long time, reminding you of the wonderful time spent in Jurmala. And you will certainly want to return to this hospitable city on the coast again.