Exhibition „Bruņinieku iela - Die Ritterstraße” opened for public viewing


This exhibition is dedicated to the main street of the Valmiera Old Town, around which the city has emerged. The castle ruins just next to it is the oldest evidence of the existence of this street. Only later on Bruņinieku or Knight Street appeared with the oldest buildings in Valmiera. Each and every of them has a unique story giving us an insight of how people once used to live.

The exhibition in the Exhibition Hall of the Valmiera Museum (2nd floor) will be open for public viewing until October 1. „It is a travelling exhibition which within the project framework „Hanseatic Approach to New Sustainable Alliances” will be displayed in Lübeck and other partner cities in Germany. All exhibition materials are available in Latvian and German, because the exhibition tells a lot about the Baltic German families which are closely linked with the formation of this street.  Therefore not only residents of Valmiera can learn more about this street, but also people living in Germany. Family names of those who once lived here, such as, Marschner, Erdmann, until nowadays are popular family names in Germany once again proving how closely linked we are. We hope it will motivate them to come and visit Latvia and Valmiera,” tells the senior researcher of the Valmiera Museum Liene Rokpelne, who, together with the Head of the History Division of the Valmiera Museum Ingrīda Zīriņa, is the co-author of the exhibition.

Knights, monks, servants living in the castle of the Livonian Order, representatives of the Hanseatic League cities, pharmacists, doctors, musicians, artists, even the superintendent Ferdinand and currently – employees of the Valmiera Museum – all have lived and/or worked here at some point. „So many different professions throughout centuries in such a small area. With the development of this street, also Valmiera has evolved,” emphasizes L. Rokpelne.

Until now information has been gathered and summoned only about separate buildings located on this street. However this will be the first exhibition where it all will be combined. By researching archive materials and with the help of memoirs of local residents, new, valuable information has been acquired. „Researching can be rather time consuming to find some valuable information or a paragraph about a certain building. It can take years. This time we found a new fact about the owner of the Marschner’s House. Until now we thought that this big house was built because his wife gave birth to his son, but we found out that he has never been married. The woman and the boy mentioned in documents actually were his sister-in-law and her son. Therefore, we still don’t know why he needed such a big house. Furthermore we managed to re-create several family trees, from which we now know that families who lived in the area in five generations through marriage have merged with one-another. It’s peculiar, although, it also makes research more complicated, because two brother had sons named Pierre. There were also several Johann’s, Carl’s, Oto’s etc.”

First traces of development of this territory can be traced back to the Livonian times “From 14th to 16th centuries in total 103 landtag meetings took place, out of which 32 were held in Valmiera, because it was located at the crossroads. It is a significant number. It means that it was convenient to get here from various places and messengers departing from here could around the same time reach Lübeck, Pskov, Novgorod, Riga, Tartu and Tallinn. Second reasons – two important trade routes went through Valmiera – one by land and one by the river. I think merchant spirit has always been present in local residents, therefore, we can explain why people here not only highly appreciate sport and culture, but also trade and entrepreneurship. We can see that also nowadays the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive.” It must be outlined that during the medieval times travelling was lengthy and expensive, and for this reason it was highly important to visit as many places as possible during one trip. “Commissionaires used these trips to inspect castles. It was sort of an audit of its time – to see the state of the castle, test readiness of the knights for battles and their ability to defend the city etc.”

Name of the street was given for valid reasons – knights actually have lived here and have gathered here to make important decisions. At the beginning of the 20th century the name of the street was shown in three languages simultaneously, namely, Latvian, German and Russian.

Visitors of the exhibition will have an opportunity to see not only items and documents from the collection of the Valmiera Museum, but also original documents and plans of the territory from the State Historical Archives of Latvia. Along with information about the castle, buildings which doesn’t exist anymore, the old pharmacy, buildings of the current Valmiera Museum, Marschner’s House, information about the church and the building where the Valmiera City Council is located will be available.