Ālande river recreation facility
The Ālande river recreation facility walking trail runs through Grobiņa along the Ālande river bends for 3 km. Along the walking trail the Ālande River and tales enveloped in legends engraved in local earth, stone, and words, flow continuously, just like time. Discover these tales while you walk along the trail, using the available information stands and attraction elements.
Grobiņa's initial population is associated with the Stone Age, later on, in the early 1st mill. A.D., Grobiņa's present day territory became an area inhabited by the Western Balts – a Curonian tribe. The Curonians inhabited the territory of modern Kurzeme and parts of the territory of contemporary Lithuania by building hillforts, neighbouring with the Samogitians. The Curonians were skilled craftsmen, merchants and warriors. According to the most eloquent evidence, the Curonians were mighty seafarers, they used to sail and make raids in the waters of the Baltic Sea. Even now, in many places in Europe, along the coast of the Baltic Sea, you can find place names and street names associated with the Curonians.
Starting from the 7th century the Scandinavian settlers have established the largest settlement of Scandinavian seamen in the Curonian land beyond their homeland. The Scandinavians dwelling in Grobiņa came mostly from Gotland and the central parts of contemporary Sweden. It is worth noting that mutual relations between the local inhabitants Curonians and Scandinavians were very diverse and dynamic. Yet the two tribes were able to coexist, eventually taking over different living habits and cultural features from each other.
Due to the fact that the Scandinavian settlers continued to maintain contacts with their homeland over the centuries, contemporary Grobiņa became one of the most significant diaspora sites of that time on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea in the pre-Viking age.
Existence of Scandinavian settlements in the past is evidenced by Grobiņa Archaeological Ensemble – an authentic and very well preserved set of archaeological sites and structures, mainly from the Scandinavian settlers’ or pre-Viking age. The rich amount and diversity of materials obtained in archaeological excavations is unique! Therefore, the monuments of Grobiņa Archaeological Ensemble are included in the Latvian national UNESCO World Heritage list.
Grobiņa archaelogical ensemble consists of several archaelogical monuments of the same period: Grobiņa Medieval Castle with bastions, Grobiņa Hillfort (Skābarža Hill) and the settlement, Priediens burial mound site, Atkalni flat-grave burial site, Smukumi flat-grave burial site and Porāni (Pūrāni) burial mound site, which are located compactly in Grobiņa and its surroundings, while the Ālande river connects these historical places and events as a unifying landscape element.
Therefore, one of the starting points of the walking trail of the Ālande river recreation facility is located at the Grobiņa Medieval Castle with bastions. Construction of the Castle is being associated with the middle of the 13th century, when the Grobiņa Castle was first mentioned in historical sources as hus to Grobin in the light of the events of 1263, when the Livonian Order attacked Grobiņa and burned the Curonian wooden castle down. In 1328 the Grobiņa Castle was rebuilt on the right coast of the Ālande river on a hill, about 200 m away from the Grobiņa Hillfort or Skābarža Hill. Although for many centuries the castle has served as an important military fortification, during the war of 1795 and 1812 the castle lost its function and turned into ruins over the centuries. Only medieval castle walls, fortified bastions of the 17th century, ditches and steep slopes have survived to this day.
If you keep walking along the trail, you will see the Grobiņa Hillfort (Skābarža Hill) and the settlement, occupying a territory of 6.24 ha on the right coast of the Ālande river. The hill is covered with more than 20 horn-beeches, the slopes and edges of the plateau are well-preserved. In turn, the settlement area is mainly covered with urban development, infrastructure and farmland. In general, the Grobiņa Hillfort and the settlement hold evidence of possibly the oldest city in Latvia, which has been inhabited since the middle Iron Age and mainly associated with co-existence of the Curonians and the Scandinavian settlers from the 7th to 9th century.
The second starting point of the walking trail is the Priediens burial mound site – a huge blanket of dead souls. It conceals about 2 000 humps, and each of them may appear to be the last resting place for several people at the same time – the inhabitants of ancient Grobiņa – the Curonians, and Scandinavian settlers, who lived here in 7th-9th century. Moreover, the Priediens burial mound site holds unique evidence of co-existence of these Scandinavian settlers with the local Curonian community. Today, the territory of the ancient burial mound site is partly covered with forest and meadows and a small development. The ancient burial mound site was destroyed during World War I and World War II by digging trenches, blindages and making other types of dugouts. However, in spite of this, the best part of the ancient burial mound site has survived and is clearly visible in nature.
The Ālande river recreational facility walking trail is suitable for walking, cycling, for parents with a baby pram and for people with movement disorders. In addition, you can feel the spirit of the recreational facility while sailing on a boat along the Ālande river route.