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Gulbene ( German : Schwanenburg)
Gulbene Coat of Arms
Gulbene (Latvia)
Red pog.svg
Basic data
State : LatviaLatvia Latvia
Landscape: Livonia ( Latvian : Vidzeme )
Administrative district : Gulbenes novads
Coordinates : 57 ° 11 '  N , 26 ° 45'  E Coordinates: 57 ° 11 '0 "  N , 26 ° 45' 0"  E
Residents : 8,057 (Jan. 1, 2016)
Area : 11.9 km²
Population density : 677 inhabitants per km²
Height : 133  m
City law: since 1928
Post Code:
ISO code:

Gulbene ( German Schwanenburg ) is a city in northeastern Latvia . In 2016 Gulbene had 8057 inhabitants.


In the time of 10./11. In the 19th century, the Latgals built a wooden castle on a hill near the Krustalīce river . The castle then developed into the center of the Tālava region .

The place was first mentioned as "Gulbana" in a certificate of division between the Brothers of the Sword and Albert von Buxthoeven , Archbishop of Riga , from 1224. In the following period, the place belonged to the Riga archbishopric and was given the German name "Schwanenburg" (lett .: Gulbis = German: swan).

In 1340, Archbishop Friedrich von Pernstein built a stone castle about 2 km from today's center of Gulbenes as a base in the fight against the Muscovites . Even so, the walls could not withstand the attacks of the Russian army in 1577 during the Livonian War . The inhabitants either fell victim to the acts of war or were taken prisoner. The castle that was destroyed in the process was not rebuilt.

During the rule of the Swedes over the area, King Gustav II Adolf gave the village of Schwanenburg to Colonel General Gustav von Hörn .

In the 18th century a school was opened in the village and the name Alt-Schwanenburg was used for the local lands. In 1802 Alt-Schwanenburg became the property of Baron Johann Gottlieb von Wolff ( Lat .: Johans Gotlībs fon Volfs, 1756-1817).

A Lutheran parish church was built on the ruins of the stone castle in 1837 and consecrated in 1843. This church was badly damaged during the Second World War. Its reconstruction has not yet been completed.

In 1928 Gulbene received city rights.

During the Second World War , the front rolled over Gulbene twice, causing the city to suffer severe damage. On July 3, 1941, the Germans took Gulbene on their campaign to the east. When they withdrew in 1944, the Germans built a defensive front along the Marienburg- Schwanenburg Line, which the Red Army overcame during the march on Dorpat . On August 28, 1944, Gulbene was again under Soviet rule. The entire station area was completely destroyed by the bombardment of the Soviet Air Force during these fighting in 1944. Thanks to the documents and drawings that have been preserved in the foundations of the station building, it was able to be rebuilt in its original beauty by German prisoners of war after 1945.


The "White Castle"

The Alt-Schwanenburg Castle (Lat .: Vecgulbene), also called “White Castle”, built in 1763 by Burkhard Christoph von Münnich , came into the possession of Otto Hermann von Vietinghoff in 1789 and was acquired in 1802 by Johann Gottlieb von Wolff . In the 1840s by his grandson Rudolf Gottlieb Magnus von Wolff (1809–1847) generously in the neo-renaissance style , the castle was expanded around 1880 by Rudolf's son Johann Heinrich Gottlieb von Wolff (1843–1897) and was considered one of the most elegant mansions from Livonia.

During the unrest in 1905 , a wing of Alt-Schwanenburg was burned down, but then rebuilt. During the Second World War , artillery bombardment almost completely destroyed the northern part of the castle, which ended with a 30 m high five-storey tower. In the still preserved southern part of the castle is the main entrance, with the portal of a parade door and a massive outside staircase, which is adorned with the coat of arms of the von Wolff family and other decorative sculptures. The farm buildings of Gut Alt-Schwanenburg have been preserved: cheese dairy, ring, orangery, servants' house, stables and cattle kitchen.

The "Red Castle"

To the east of Alt-Schwanenburg Castle is the “Red Castle”. Johann Heinrich Gottlieb von Wolff had it built for them after his marriage in 1875 to Marissa von Öttingen (1857–1883). He also dedicated the newly created park with artificial ponds, lakes, grottos, pavilions, bridges, etc. to her. While the “Red Castle” is used as a primary school today, the Alt-Schwanenburg Castle and its landscaped park are still awaiting complete restoration.


The Museum of History and Art is now located in the former winter garden of the Alt-Schwanenburger Landgut. Here exhibits on the history of the place and its surroundings are collected. A collection of glass shapes from the early 20th century is outstanding.


In 1903 a narrow-gauge railway connection (750 mm) from Stockmannshof ( Lat .: Stukmaņi, today Pļaviņas ) - Alt-Schwanenburg - Marienburg ( Lat .: Alūksne) - Walk was put into operation (see: Gulbene – Alūksne railway ). The station was built as a large transshipment and transfer station with various rail depot facilities. Gulbene owed this to Baron von Wolff, who, through higher bribery, persuaded the tsarist railway authorities to build this railway junction right here and not, as originally planned, on the Stomersee ( Lat .: Stāmeriene ). Stāmeriene, which at that time belonged to another member of the von Wolffs, only got a simple train station.

During the First World War , the line from Gulbene to Pļaviņas was converted to broad gauge (1524 mm) in 1916 and the Ieriķi - Abrene railway was opened. As a result, Gulbene developed into an important transport hub in the region. Among other things, one of the three ring locomotive sheds with a turntable that existed in Latvia was located here . In 1926, the Gulben station building was built according to plans by the architect Peteris Feders . It is one of the largest and most magnificent train station buildings in Latvia.

With a total length of 33 km, the remaining section connects the city of Alūksne with Gulbene. The 750 mm wide Gulbene – Alūksne railway is a museum railway that is also used for regular passenger transport. Regular operations were severely restricted on February 1, 2010.

Gulbenes novads

After the administrative reform of 2009, all sub-municipalities of the former Gulbene district merged to form the new district (Gulbenes novads). See also: Administrative division of Latvia


sons and daughters of the town

Personalities who have worked in the city


Web links

Commons : Gulbene  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. «Latvijas iedzīvotāju skaits pašvaldībās pagastu dalījumā"
  2. a b c d e Hans Feldmann, Heinz von zur Mühlen (ed.): Baltic historical local lexicon, part 2: Latvia (southern Livland and Courland). Böhlau, Cologne 1990, p. 566.
  3. a b Hans Feldmann, Heinz von zur Mühlen (ed.): Baltic historical local lexicon, part 2: Latvia (southern Livland and Courland). Böhlau, Cologne 1990, p. 567.
  4. Elmārs Barkāns: Gulbenes - Alūksnes mazbānītis no rītiem vairs nebrauks. In:, January 31, 2010, accessed June 30, 2018 (Latvian).