Alsunga

Days 13 and 14 – the 449 km mark.

After departing from Kuldīga, I rode 28 km to the small township of Alsunga.  Alsunga is home to the Suiti culture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As can be seen on the sign that greets visitors as they enter Alsungas novads, the Suiti Cultural Space was placed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

So, who are the Suiti people?  Well, first and foremost, they are Latvians who inhabit a small pocket of the Kurzeme historical region in the west of Latvia.  Unlike other ethnic Latvians who are generally from a Lutheran heritage, the Suiti people are Roman Catholics.  But there is much more to the Suiti than Roman Catholicism.  They have also developed a rich culture of songs, music, and handicrafts which are unique to their way of life.  Sadly, it is a culture that could be lost if special efforts are not made to preserve it.

I arrived in Alsunga on Sunday 9th June and stayed at the Spēlmaņu Krogs guesthouse.  I was only supposed to be there for one night.  However, while in Alsunga, I was so impressed with the hospitality of the local people, I arbitrarily booked to stay on an extra night.

The owner of the guesthouse was very sympathetic to my cause, and after making a number of phone calls, he was able to get somebody to come out and unlock the Livonian Order Castle, Alsungas Pils… just for me.

It’s not everyday that castle doors get opened just for my benefit.

Yours truly, inside the Livonian Order Castle in Alsunga.
Livonian Order Castle in Alsunga

It did not stop there.  My hosts also had the local museum opened up, just for me, as well as the Church of Saint Michael – Alsungas Sv. Miķeļa Romas katoļu baznīca.  And I was taken to other places, too.  Here’s some photos:

Alsunga church

Apse Alsunga

Christ statue Alsunga

Icon Alsunga

Would you buy a used car from this man?
Me Alsunga

I also noticed that there is a very strong tradition of making beautiful handcrafted ceramics in Alsunga.  Here’s a few photos of things made by local Suiti people:

Ceramics Alsunga

Ceramics 2

Ceramics 3

Ceramics 4

Oh, if you’re ever visiting Alsunga and you’re looking for a nice little place to have a coffee, or even something a little stronger, I can thoroughly recommend the Sapņotava.  Dace Oberšate-Veisa who manages it is a very friendly and welcoming host, and the regulars are quite a friendly bunch, too.

Tējnīca Sapņotava

 

I call upon the government of the Republic of Latvia to help ensure that the Suiti culture space is preserved and protected now and into the future.

On Tuesday 11th June, I rode out of Alsunga to the coastal town of Pāvilosta, narrowly avoiding a hail storm which caused damage to property in Alsunga.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Alsunga”

  1. This is very interesting about the Suiti culture. I lived in Latvia for several years and never heard about this. What is the essence of this culture? Is it something about the ceramics made to look like carrots?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a sub-group of the Latvian people that somehow created a culture over the years that is specific to themselves. I don’t know the full story accurately, but from what I can gather, they were ruled by a Lutheran noble whose son ran off with a Roman Catholic girl from Poland. This created friction between the boss and his son. When the noble died, the son returned to Alsunga and converted the entire area to Roman Catholicism.

      Like

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