Rezekne is a city of significance in the Republic of Latvia. It
is the seventh largest city in the country in terms of population.
Physiographically, the city is located in the Rēzekne River Valley.
It is likely that the city got its name directly from the river.
Rezekne is located on 7 hills. Favorable geographical position, the
city's role in industry, culture and education determine the
regional and national significance of Rēzekne. It is also called the
"heart of Latgale" - this meaning is also reflected in the coat of
arms of the city, which is based on the coat of arms of Latgale
cultural and historical district, but at its heart - a shield in the
colors of the Latvian national flag.
Rezekne is located 242 km from the state capital Riga, as well as 685 km from the Russian capital Moscow, 450 km from St. Petersburg and 860 km from the Polish capital Warsaw.
In 2020, the city had a population of 27,613. Their density is 1,579.7 / km2 (the second most densely populated city in Latvia after Riga). The population has increased about 4 times in the last hundred years, but since the 1990s there has been a declining trend. If in 1990 the city had a population of 43.2 thousand, then in 2013 their number had decreased by more than 10,000.
The winding section of the Rēzekne River with its
steep banks in the vicinity of the Rēzekne castle mound has been
inhabited since prehistoric times. Before the Livonian Crusades,
there was a Latgalian castle mound with a fortified wooden castle.
Rezekne was first mentioned in writings in 1285, under the name
"Rossitten", when the master of the Livonian Order, Vilhelms
Šurborgs, built the fortress of the Order on the Rezekne castle
mound. In 1575, there were 500 inhabitants in the vicinity of
Rēzekne Castle. During the Livonian War, the castle was destroyed
and the inhabitants were taken prisoner. After the war, Rēzekne was
part of the Livonian Duchy of Pārdaugava, later of the Inflant
Voivodeship. After the partition of Poland in 1772, Rēzekne became
part of the Russian Empire and in 1773 it acquired the rights of a
19th century the city's population grew rapidly. After the then census in 1897, there were 10,795 inhabitants in Rēzekne. This boom of the city took place thanks to the 19th century. the St. Petersburg-Warsaw highway and the St. Petersburg-Warsaw railway line. 20th century At the beginning of the 19th century, the Ventspils-Ribinska railway line was also built. As a result, Rēzekne became an important crossroads and before the First World War the population reached 23 thousand. In the first years of independence, the First Latvian Congress of Latgale took place in Rēzekne, thanks to which Latgale joined the rest of Latvia. After the withdrawal of LSPR government forces to Latgale, Rēzekne from July 1919 until the beginning of the Latgale liberation operation in January 1920 was the temporary seat of the Soviet Latvian government.
After the First World War, Rēzekne became the educational and cultural center of Latgale. In 1939, the population reached only 13 thousand, but gradually increased, mainly due to the large population and density in Rēzekne district (158,183 inhabitants in 1938). Due to the lack of land in the countryside, many young people moved to the city to enter one of Rēzekne's universities. There were mainly light and food industry companies operating in the city, as well as small metal processing, wood industry and printing industry companies, however, the main role of the city was to be the center of culture, education and clergy in Latgale. During this time, a commercial school, a new building of the teachers' institute, a post office, the current culture house (then the People's Palace), a second Catholic church, a Lutheran church, several schools, a new reinforced concrete bridge, a hotel and other public buildings were built. In 1938, a monument to Mara was erected at the expense of the people, which has become a symbol of the city.
During the Second World War, the city, as an important railway junction, was almost completely destroyed in USSR air raids. Almost 80% of all houses in the city were demolished, including blown up public buildings, such as the city board building, culture house, post office, teachers' institute, hospital, etc. Entire quarters dominated by wooden private houses burned down during the war. All bridges over the Rēzekne River were destroyed. In the post-war years, the total estimated loss was 450 million rubles. Local people were involved in the reconstruction of the city, a construction office was organized, and workers, former craftsmen and builders were even sought in the countryside.
After the war, Rēzekne was built almost completely anew. In the
first years, some of the ruined buildings were restored from the
rubble. Labor from other USSR republics was already brought in to
rebuild the city, which then remained in place - the new residents
of Rēzekne needed apartments, so they had to build new apartment
buildings. Only six years after the end of the war, internal
combustion engine repair shops were established on the other side of
the Riga-Moscow railway, which in 1963 were transformed into a
Milking Equipment Factory, which employed more than 2,000 people. In
1957, the most modern dairy canning plant in the Baltics was built
near it. All this created the conditions that more and more labor
was needed, which was again sought throughout the USSR. The workers,
in turn, needed a place to live. Thus, new apartment buildings were
built near the built factories. Thus, a completely new district of
the city was created on the other side of the railway, which was
called the Northern District. To get there, you had to cross a level
crossing. In order to make it possible to build new buildings, next
to the Dairy Cannery, the production of reinforced concrete
structures began, but in 1959 a silicate brick factory was built
near the Ančupāni mountain quarries. Thus, in the 1960s, all the
conditions were created for the successful start of the construction
of five-storey silicate brick apartment buildings (the first were
built 316 and 318 series Khrushchev), for which construction
materials were produced right in and around the city. It was a
centrally planned "hidden" assimilation of the basic nation, first
creating conditions according to the need for labor, then importing
it, thus making the national composition of the population more
diverse. Such a policy was also carried out in other cities of the
LSSR, especially in the large ones, but in Rēzekne it was
implemented most vividly. In 1972, behind the Dairy Cannery, the
electric construction tools production workshops of the XXIV
Congress of the CPSU (later the REBIR factory) were built, behind it
the tallest building in Rēzekne - the Cereal Products Combine - was
built. Along with the construction of the factories, the widest
construction of the Rezekne residential area (Northern district)
In 1981, the Northern District was connected to the rest of the city by a viaduct. Also in the Center district, blocks of multi-storey houses were built around the viaduct overpasses. Rezekne developed into a large industrial city, the number of employees in the largest factories reached 3,000.
After the collapse of the USSR and the restoration of Latvia's independence, the industrial enterprises created by the USSR, unable to withstand competition and losing the CIS market during the Russian crisis, were liquidated. The population declined sharply from 41,000 in 1991 to 32,000 in 2012.
Nevertheless, with the entry of the 21st century, the city began to recover economically, new industrial enterprises were formed and infrastructure and public buildings were reconstructed or completely rebuilt with the help of European Union funds.