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Trip Planner Europe  /  Latvia  /  Vidzeme Region  /  Ainazi


Piers & Boardwalks · Specialty Museums · History Museums
Ainaži is a harbour town in the Vidzeme region of Latvia. The town is located near the Estonian border on the site of an ancient Liv fishing village. Before 1917, it was known by its German name Haynasch (in Estonian Heinaste, in Russian, Гайнаш Gainash).Etymology"Ainaži " may be derived from the Estonian word heinastee meaning "hay-road". Other possibilities include the Livonian words aaina meaning "hay", or ainagi meaning "lonely". In the Middle Ages, the town was in German as Haynasch.HistoryAinaži existed for centuries as a Livonian fishing village. The town itself was first mentioned in 1564, and through the ages, changed hands among various barons and estates. Ainaži entered a great period of growth in the 1870s, when its history of shipbuilding and seafaring began.In the 19th century, Vidzeme and Courland were covered with vast forests of pine trees. Ainaži's strategic position on the sea and proximity to lumber made it a perfect place for ship building. In 1864 Krišjānis Valdemārs sponsored the first nautical school in Livonia (today Latvia), training young Estonian and Latvian farmers to become ship captains for free. The school stood for 50 years until it was destroyed in World War I. With the opening of the school and shipbuilding industry, Ainaži grew for the rest of the 19th century. From 1857 to 1913, over 50 seaworthy vessels were built in the town, and in 1902 a working port and railway station opened. By World War I, Ainaži was the fourth largest port in all of Latvia and chief in Vidzeme, overtaking neighboring Salacgrīva. The town also had its own windmills, fish-processing plant, and brick kiln.
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