History of Rēzekne

Rezekne is a city in the heart of Latgale first mentioned in the manuscripts as Rositten (German) is 1285, and later on given various names: Rzezycu (Polish), Rezicu (Russian) and even Rezne, Razne (Latgalian).

A favourite place of residence of ancient Latgalians in the 9th to 12th centuries at the hill on the bank of the river became a residence of the Livonian Vogt in the end of the 13th century when the Master of the Livonian Order built the order castle Rositten here. The castle served as the main supporting fort in the 14th century during the war with Russians and Lithuanians.

After the collapse of the Livonian Order (1561), Rezekne became part of the Polish Infantry and

was destructed as a result of the Polish-Swedish war so that in the beginning of the 18th century only castle ruins reminded of former splendour.

Business activities resumed in Rezekne in the end of the 18th century, a year after Latgale had become part of the Russian Empire (1773) and Rezekne turned into the capital of district. In 1778, Empress Catherine II approved the plan of the city of Rezekne, and active construction commenced.

After the St.-Petersburg – Warsaw highway (1836) and railway (1861) were built, the rhythm of life in the distant provincial city changed. Many residents of Rezekne started going to St.-Petersburg and other cities to make money, while thanks to convenient communication and picturesque surroundings, Rezekne became a favourite place of holiday-makers from St.-Petersburg. The population grew rapidly mostly as a result of inflow of Jewish merchants and their families. This is evidenced by the number of sacred buildings that date back to the beginning of the 20th century: 11 Synagogues, 2 Orthodox churches, 2 Catholic churches, a Lutheran church and Old Believers’ prayer hall.

In the spring 1917, the historical First Latgale Congress arranged in Rezekne adopted a decision on separation of Latgale from Vitebsk province and unification with other Latvian


During the period of the First Independent State of Latvia (1918-1939), Rezekne rapidly developed and turned into the centre of Latgalian culture and education. Then existing name of the city – Rezekne – was approved in 1920. Latvian, Russian, Polish and Jewish gymnasiums, commercial school and trade school, teachers institute as well as the Latgale theatre worked in the city.

During the World War II, Rezekne was severely damaged and public and residential buildings were for the most part destroyed. After the War, Rezekne developed as an important industrial hub, the Canned Dairy Integrated Plant, Milking Equipment Plant, Electric Tool Plant, etc. were built, and in the end of the 20th century, Rezekne became the largest industrial city in Latvia.

Today, Rezekne is the centre of spiritual life, education and culture in Latgale, the seventh largest Latvian city and the largest border town in the Eastern European Union.