Salaspils is a city in Latvia, the administrative center of Salaspils region. It is a suburb of Riga, located only 18 km from the center of the capital and 16 km from Ogre. The city in its modern form was formed in connection with the construction of the adjacent Riga HPP and several industrial enterprises, while the historic Salaspils is currently flooded under the Riga HPP reservoir. City law since 1993. Salaspils is one of the newest cities in Latvia and the 12th largest city by population.

The area of ​​the city is 12 km2, it is covered by Salaspils parish. In 2020, Salaspils had a population of 17,977.

The territory of Salaspils is crossed by the railway line Riga-Daugavpils (stations Salaspils and Dole), the motorway A6, the Riga bypass A4 and A5 pass next to the city. The journey from Salaspils to Riga, regardless of the chosen mode of transport (road or rail), takes about 25 minutes. Due to the short distance and convenient traffic, daily migration is typical - a large part of Salaspils residents go to work or study in Riga every day.



Salaspils is one of the oldest settlements in Latvia. Excavations have shown that the region has been inhabited for a thousand years ago. From the 10th to the 15th century, the region was inhabited by Livonian and Baltic tribes. In 1186 Meingard, the first bishop of Riga, built Kirchholm Castle on the Martinsholm Island of the Daugava River, next to Kirchholm. Martinsholm Island (now Martinsala) is a site of the oldest Catholic cemetery in Latvia, dating back to 1197.

In 1605, the city was the site of the battle at Kirchholm, in which the forces of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth defeated the larger Swedish army. Also, the front line of the First World War, which ran here for two years, leads to great destruction. After World War I, the restored Salaspils was the center of a rural area with a population of only 306 (1943 census).

The black page in the history of Salaspils is connected with the time of the German occupation in 1941-1944. The Kurtengof death camp was established near the city. The camp received terrible fame due to the fact that, in addition to soldiers, partisans, Jews and others, there were kept, subjected to cruel violence, torture, experiments and mass murder of children aged 0 to 12-15 years. In 1967, a memorial ensemble was opened on the site of the camp (architect G. Asaris and others)

From the 1950s - 1960s Salaspils became the main center for electricity generation and scientific research. This is the site of a hydroelectric power plant on the Daugava River and a major thermoelectric power plant that supplies most of Riga with electricity. Salaspils is also home to a number of research institutes of the Latvian Academy of Sciences - the Institute of Physics (with a research nuclear reactor now shut down), the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, the Institute of Biology (which includes the National Botanical Garden) and various universities.

Industrial development has led to an increase in the population of Salaspils, up to 21 thousand people.



Salaspils concentration camp

Concentration camp "Salaspils" (concentration camp "Kurtenhof") (German Polizeigefängnis und Arbeitserziehungslager Salaspils, as well as Lager Kurtenhof) is a concentration camp created during the Second World War (1939-1945) in the territory of Latvia occupied by Nazi Germany. It existed 18 kilometers from the city of Riga near the city of Salaspils from October 1941 until the end of the summer of 1944.

The camp gained fame because of the detention of juvenile prisoners in it, who were then used to take blood for wounded German soldiers, as a result of which the children quickly died.

Camps near Salaspils
Several separate concentration camps existed in the area of ​​the Salaspils settlement. In addition to the more famous camp for political prisoners, there was also a prisoner of war camp Stalag 350 / Z nearby. The area of ​​this camp was 18.82 hectares, the prisoners of war in it lived in the open air, hiding in earthen burrows, ate the bark of trees and reached cannibalism.

Salaspils main camp also had several branches. In this regard, in the literature there are discrepancies in the assessment of the number of prisoners and victims.



Initially, the camp was created for Jews deported from Germany arriving in Latvia - for the purpose of selection and subsequent destruction. They began to build this camp in October 1941. Of the foreign Jews brought to Latvia, only those who were able to work were sent to Salaspils. Many of them died of hunger and overwork. Subsequently, Latvian Jews were also placed in Salaspils.

However, Jews constituted a minority of the prisoners in the camp. According to the historian Valdis Lumans, later Soviet prisoners of war, Latvian and other participants in the anti-Nazi resistance were imprisoned in the camp.

In the summer of 1942, some of the Jewish prisoners were returned from the camp to the Riga ghetto. Because of their malnutrition, they looked like skeletons. One of those who returned to the ghetto was the Czech Jew Karel Besen, known as the "executioner of Salaspils" - to save his life, he killed other prisoners, but so that they suffered as little as possible.

In December 1942, a dispute over control of the camp took place between the SS General Administration (WVHA) and the administration of the Ostland Reichskommissariat over the ownership of the camp. On December 1, the General Directorate of Imperial Security in Berlin asked the commander of the Security Police and SD in Riga, Rudolf Lange, if Salaspils was a concentration camp, and if so, why was it not transferred to the WVHA. Lange replied that the Salaspils camp is not a concentration camp, but an educational and labor camp, and therefore is under the control of the police. Heinrich Himmler considered this explanation unsatisfactory and called Salaspils a concentration camp, but control over it remained in Lange's hands until the end of the German occupation.

In March 1943, peasants, women and children, who were taken out of the villages of Belarus, the Pskov and Leningrad regions during punitive anti-partisan operations, began to be placed in the camp (for example, in February-April 1943, during the "Winter Magic" operation, only from the Osveisky district Vitebsk region, 14,175 residents were taken out - adults to work in Germany, children to Salaspils).

In August 1944, the surviving prisoners of the camp were taken to the Stutthof concentration camp. Before the arrival of the Soviet troops, almost all the camp barracks were burned down.

The remaining barracks were used to create a camp for German prisoners of war, held there until October 1946.

In 1967, the Salaspils Memorial Complex was created on the site of the camp.

In 2006, a birch cross was erected at the burial site of 146 German prisoners of war.

Camp arrangement
Although Salaspils was not a death camp such as Belzec or Sobibor, whose only goals were the extermination of people, and was listed as a labor camp, living conditions in it provided for mass deaths of prisoners from hunger, disease, cold and exhaustion. Despite the high mortality rate of prisoners from the above reasons, executions, hanging and other methods of murder were the usual punishment for any offense. In late 1942, Commandant Lange used gas chambers to exterminate Jews and other "racially inferior" people.

The daily ration consisted of 150-300 grams of bread, half mixed with sawdust, and a cup of soup made from vegetable waste. Working off labor service lasted up to 14 hours or more.


Salaspils castle

Salaspils medieval castle (historical name - Holm; Latin castrum Holme, German Ordensburg Kirchholm) is a former fortress on the Daugava, built on the site of an ancient Livonian settlement. Later it belonged to the Archbishopric of Riga and the Livonian Order. It was located on the ancient trade route “from the Varangians to the Greeks”.

Liv settlement
The plot measuring 250 × 600 m, where the fortress was built, was very close to the coast and at the same time, due to its location, it made it possible to control the Daugava channel and the ships passing along it, since it was between the island and the right bank that the deepest and most navigable branch of the river was located ...

During the excavations, objects of the Stone Age, early and middle period of the Iron Age, as well as jewelry dating back to the beginning of the first millennium AD, were found here. When the Germans appeared here, a large Livonian settlement was located in Golme with log cabins dug into the ground, hearths and pits for storing food.

In the Chronicle of Livonia, the settlement of Golm is mentioned in 1186, Bishop Maynard suggested that the Livs build the second stone castle after Ikskyla on an island 20 km from the mouth of the Daugava with the help of masons invited by him from Gotland in exchange for a promise to be baptized, which the Livs did not keep.

Although the construction of stone fortresses made an impression on the Livs, reports Henry of Latvia, after the completion of the construction, the Livs expelled the Germans, and after part of the Livs nevertheless accepted baptism, they “from time to time washed away their baptism in the Daugava, and tried to shake off the power of the Germans from yourself. "

Around 1195, Holm's Livs fell away from Christianity, although by that time there was a church (ecclesia) and a cemetery (cymiterium) on the island, which now makes Martinsala island the oldest Catholic cemetery in Latvia, which arose no later than 1197.

When the new Bishop Berthold arrived in the place of the deceased Maynard, he tried to establish contact with the Livs, but they, accepting the food and gifts, tried to kill the new bishop at the consecration of the cemetery, drown him in the Daugava or burn him in the church, accusing him of self-interest: “Poverty is the reason for him arrival! "

Berthold managed to escape to Germany, from where he returned with an army of crusaders and again turned to the Livs with the question of whether they wanted to accept the faith, which was refused.

The battle of the German crusaders with the Livs followed, in which Berthold was killed, after which his knights forced the Daugava Livs to be baptized. In particular, about 50 Livs were baptized in Golme. However, as soon as the Germans left the island, the Livs washed off the baptism with the verdict: "... here we drive the baptized water along with the Christian faith along the river, freeing ourselves from the accepted faith, and send it after those who leave ...". They also decided to kill any aliens that remain in their lands.

With the arrival of the new Bishop Albert in Livonia, who also tried unsuccessfully to take the Livonian Holm, the Germans showed themselves to be a serious military force.

In 1202-1203. Holm was attacked by Semigallians, who managed to burn down the village and the church, but after a long siege (castrum diu inpugnantes) they could not take the fortress. After that, a garrison of German crossbowmen appeared in Holm.

In 1203, Prince Vladimir of Polotsk, seeking to regain control over Livonia, set out on a campaign against Riga. He captured the castle of Ixskul and tried to take Holm by storm, but the German crossbowmen successfully held the defensive, which is why the Polotsk people did not dare to cross the Dvina under fire and retreated.

In 1206, the Bishop of Riga, Albert von Buxgewden, tried to conclude peace with Vladimir. He sent an embassy to Vladimir headed by Theodoric. At the same time, ambassadors from the Livs came to Vladimir, who complained that "the bishop and his supporters are a great burden for them, and the burden of faith is intolerable." Henry of Latvia writes in his chronicle that the Livonian speeches were full of "curses and bile", and they "more incited the prince to start a war than to conclude peace." As a result, Vladimir decided to gather an army for a large campaign against Riga.

In the same year 1206, Ako, the leader of the Livs, who "incited the prince of Polotsk to war with the Rigans, having gathered the Lithuanians, summoned his relatives from Turaida and all of Livonia to war," organized an unsuccessful uprising against the crusaders (the Battle of Holme). Bishop Albert received Ako's cut off head in Riga as a sign of victory over Holm's Livs.

After the division of the Livonian lands, the castle passed into the control of Albert and was renamed into "Church Island" (German Kirchholm or Martinsholm). A vogt was appointed to manage the volost.

During the civil war in Livonia in 1298, the castle belonging to the archbishop was destroyed by the Livonian Order. Subsequently, the order rebuilt on the right bank of the Daugava a new stone castle with the Church of St. George, first mentioned in 1380 as Neue-Kirchholm ("New Church Island").


In 1452, the Salaspils Treaty was signed in the castle, stating that Riga has two feudal lords - the Archbishop of Riga and the Livonian Order.

On August 28, 1577, during the Livonian War, the castle was burned down, and on September 4 its masonry was blown up so that the troops of Tsar Ivan IV, approaching Riga, could not use it as a springboard for an offensive. After that, the castle was no longer rebuilt, but in Salaspils to protect Riga from the east, "Swedish fortifications" (trenches) were built.

The island became known as Martinsala after the church in the name of St. Martin, built next to the castle. This name has been found in literature since the 17th century.

The ruins of the fortress wall about 30 m long and 1.8 m thick, as well as the foundation of the castle tower on the bank of the Daugava River, survived until the First World War. In 1907, the castle's protective moat was filled up, and the walls were damaged by artillery fire during the war. During the construction of the Riga hydroelectric power station, the remains of the ruins appeared on the territory of the reservoir and were flooded.

The castle was built on the right steep bank of the Daugava from dolomite squares measuring 16-24 cm by 30-50 cm, the height of the walls was about 10 meters. It was a 40 x 40 m square structure with a 17 x 19 m wide courtyard.

The moat defended the castle along the perimeter, the entrance was made through a bridge on the west side. At the gate of the castle, on the side of the river, was its oldest defensive tower.

Preparing for war with the Grand Duchy of Moscow, at the turn of the 15th-16th centuries, the Livonian Order fortified the castle with two new towers in the northwestern (21.5 m in diameter, 6.5 m thick) and northeastern (18 m in diameter) corners fortress wall. On the eastern side, a 50.4 × 30 m frontal wall was built with a gate tower 14 m in diameter.


How to get here

Salaspils is crossed by the A6 motorway, and not far from the city are the A4 and A5 Riga bypass roads.

Railway transport
Salaspils railway station is located on the electrified section of the Riga - Krustpils line. In addition to electric trains, diesel trains to Daugavpils, Zilupe and Krustpils also stop here.

Bus service
Salaspils has a developed bus connection with Riga and adjacent settlements. There are no intra-city routes.

Salaspils - Daugavas muzejs
Salaspils - Silava - TEC-2
Salaspils - Silava - Saurieši
Salaspils - Saulkalne
Riga - Saurieši - Salaspils
Riga - Salaspils
Riga - Salaspils - Silava
Riga - Salaspils - Dienvidu iela
Riga - Salaspils - Apakšstacija
Riga - Salaspils - Miera iela
Riga - Salaspils - Fizikas institūts
Rīga - Salaspils - Briežu iela
Riga - Salaspils - Saulkalne