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Coat of arms of Vidzeme

Vidzeme is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. Literally meaning "the Middle Land" it is situated in north-central Latvia north of the Daugava River. Sometimes in German it is also known as Livland- German form from Latin Livonia, though it comprises only a small part of medieval Livonia and about half (Latvian part) of Swedish Livonia.


In ancient times territory of Vidzeme was inhabitated by Latgalians and Livs (near coast of Riga gulf and in lower reaches of Daugava and Gauja rivers). Until German conquest in 13th century Daugava which now forms Vidzeme south-east border was borderline among lands of Livs and Latgalians on the right bank and Semigallians and Selonians on the left bank of the river. Most notable Latgalian state in today’s Vidzeme was Tālava.

After Livonian War part of Livonian Confederation on the right bank of Daugava river and Patrimony of Riga was ceded to Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as Duchy of Livonia (left bank formed the Duchy of Courland and Semigalia).

After Polish-Swedish War completed by Truce of Altmark in 1629 Sweden acquired Western part of Duchy of Livonia roughly until Aiviekste River since then forming Vidzeme's eastern border.

During the course of the Great Northern War Swedish Livonia was conquered by Russian Empire and acquired at the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. Instead of Livonia Russians created Riga Governorate but in 1796 Riga Governorate was renamed as the Governorate of Livonia (Latvian: Vidzemes guberņa, German: Livländisches Gouvernement , Russian: Лифляндская губерния / Liflyandskaya guberniya, Estonian: Liivimaa kubermang). After the end of World War I it was split between the newly independent countries of Latvia and Estonia.

Historical regions of Latvia, together with Latvian cultural groups.

External links

Coordinates: 57°20′N 25°37′E / 57.333°N 25.617°E / 57.333; 25.617


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Vidzeme is a region in northeastern Latvia, bordering Estonia.

  • Cesis - town with many historic attractions.
  • Ligatne - a great natural park with wildlife animals and "fairy tale" forest with characters from famous latvian fairytales.
  • Seda
  • Smiltene
  • Strenci
  • Valka - unique town on the border - that crosses the town centre - with Estonia. Due to the future plans it is close to regain the status of important cultural centre.
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