History and Culture
The Iron Bridge
An object of the industrial heritage. It is a steel bridge over the Gauja River built in 1911. It used to connect the 114 km long Ainaži-Valmiera-Smiltene route (quit operating in 1971). A great place for hiking and is a part of the green cycling route.
The narrow-gauge railway line Smiltene – Valmiera – Ainaži – was dessigned in 1908. The project executor, foreman and engineer in one person was Count von Lieven, and it was sponsored by the local nobility in hope for a good profit. It was planned to transport timber, grain, meat, butter, cattle, flax and other things from Smiltene to Valmiera, and food, building materials, mineral fertilizers, agricultural tools and furniture back from Valmiera to Smiltene.
The story goes that the Count himself personally designed the line and outlined it in nature as well.
The narrow-gauge railway line Ainaži – Valmiera – Smiltene, including the railway bridge in Valmiera, was completed in 1912, and the iron bridge is the only bridge in Valmiera that has survived until nowadays. The first person to try the new rails was Count von Lieven who rode on a motor bicycle ahead of the train, and right behind him followed the engine with passengers. It should be noted that there were only two passengers on the first journey, but the return journey had already 27 passengers. Everybody could have a free ride on the first day, and it took 3 hours to get from Valmiera to Ainaži.
Unfortunately, the railway line was closed in the 70-ies, and the bridge, popularly known as Dzelzītis, together with the railway embankment, has become a favourite trail for pedestrians and cyclists.