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Jelgava, Latvia, Latvia

Practiced journeyerPracticed journeyer John Watter
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The town is situated on the right bank of the river Lielupe (formerly known as Aa), on a fertile plain which rises only 12 ft. above sea level, and has probably given its German name to the town (Mitte in der Aue). At high water the plain and sometimes also the town are inundated. Jelgava is surrounded by a canal occupying the place of former fortifications. It has regular, broad streets, bordered with the mansions of the German nobility, who resided at the capital of Courland.

Jelgava is supposed to have been founded in 1266 by Conrad Mandern, grand-master of the order of the Brethren of the Sword. In 1345, when it was plundered by the Lithuanians, it was already an important town. In 1561 it became the residence of the dukes of Courland. It was capital of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth voivodship, Duchy of Courland. During the 17th century it was thrice taken by the Swedes. Imperial Russia annexed it alongside Courland in 1795 during the partitions of Poland.

The old castle (1266) of the dukes of Courland, situated on an island in the river, was destroyed by Duke Biren, who had a spacious palace erected in its place (1738-1772) by Bartolomeo Rastrelli. It was the residence (1798-1801 and 1804-1807) of the count of Provence (afterwards Louis XVIII). Other landmarks include the baroque Anna's church and handsome neoclassical structures - Villa Medema and Academia Petrina.

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