Gulbene is a city in the northeast of Vidzeme, the center of Gulbene region, 186 km from Riga. The city is located on the banks of Krustalīce and its tributaries Asarupe. The highways P27, P35, P36, P37 and Pļaviņas-Gulbene railway intersect here, which continues as Gulbene-Alūksne railway.



In written sources, Gulbena Castle District (Gulbana) was first mentioned in the Talva Division Treaty of 1224 between the Order of the Sword Brothers and the Bishop of Riga. During the reign of Archbishop Friedrich von Pernstein of Riga in 1340, the Gulbene stone castle (Schwanenburg) was built on an old traffic road about halfway between Cesvaine and Aluksne castles. Already at the beginning of the Livonian War in 1559 after the victory in the Battle of Tirza, Gulbene Castle was occupied by the troops of Ivan IV. For some time the castle was subordinated to King Magnus of Livonia, but in 1577 it again fell into the hands of Russian troops. As elsewhere in Vidzeme, Russian troops killed or captured most of the population in the Gulbene area.

The castle destroyed by the Russians was not rebuilt after the war. After the conquest of Vidzeme, King Gustav Adolf of Sweden presented the Gulbene castle district to his general G. Horn, but after the reduction of the manors at the end of the 17th century, the manor became the property of the Swedish state. The manor of Russia, Catherine II Vecgulbene (Alt-Schwanenburg), was given to Field Marshal Burkhard Christoph von Münnich in 1763, but in 1789 the manor came into the possession of the influential Fitinghof family. In 1802, the Vecgulbene manor was bought by Johann Gottlieb von Wolf and owned by Baron Wolf until the agrarian reform in 1920. The brickyard, cheese shop, brewery and vodka distillery gave a large income to the manor.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, the city of Gulbene had not yet developed, instead it was the administrative center of Vecgulbene manor. The current location of the city was swampy and was not considered suitable for living. Even in the place of the current Gulbene station there was a thick alder. However, when the Pļaviņas-Valka narrow-gauge railway was built in 1903 and the Gulbene station was built, but near its railway repair shop, the first residential houses began to appear near the station.

During the 1905 revolution, the rebels burned down the manor house of Vecgulbene manor, and the Maliena Committee of the Latvian Social Democracy took over power in the vicinity of Gulbene. It was only from 1918 that the land of Vecgulbene manor was divided into buildings, because earlier the owners of the manor had resisted it, not wanting that with the development of the town, the manor could lose the role of the surrounding center. During the Latvian War of Independence on December 24, 1918, Vecgulbene manor was occupied by the Red Army, the Maliena District Committee settled in the manor's White Castle, and a prison was established in the basement. The Malian Revolutionary War Tribunal sentenced more than 200 people from the wider area to death. On May 31, 1919, Vecgulbeni was liberated by the 4th Valmiera Infantry Regiment of the Latvian Army together with the 1st Estonian Infantry Regiment and the Danish Volunteer Company.

Vecgulbene was granted town rights in 1921, but in 1928 it acquired the status of a city and was renamed Gulbene. In the autumn of 1928, Gulbene State Commercial and Vocational School was opened.

The city's population grew rapidly and in 1930 there were 3,574 people living in Gulbene - Latvians 86%, Russians 6%, Poles 3% and Jews 2%, of whom Lutherans 77%, Catholics 10%, Orthodox 10%, Jews 2%.

During the Second World War, the Wehrmacht line of defense stretched from Gulbene to Livani, and during the battles of August 1944, the city was partially destroyed.


Cultural and historical monuments

The complex of Vecgulbene manor (German: Alt-Schwanenburg) in the southern part of the city was formed near Gulbene medieval castle. The manor house, which has survived to the present day, was built in the 19th and 20th centuries. century, when the manor was owned by Baron Wolf.

The complex includes two castles - Gulbene White Castle (Roman style) and Gulbene Red Castle (neo-Gothic style, now part of school buildings).

Both castles were burned down in the riots of 1905, but later partially restored and rebuilt. To this day, several parts of the manor park and farm buildings established in the 19th century have been preserved - barns, stables, an arena, and a servant's house.

In 2008, the renovation of the White Castle began.