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Vilani

Vilani is a town in Latvia. Geographical location 56° 33' North, 26° 57' East. Population 3961; territory: 488.9 ha (including: 11 ha waters and 89.9 ha agricultural land).

Vilani is situated in the eastern part of Rezekne district[?]. The railway line Riga-Moscow, and the motor highway Riga-Moscow, and the motorway Preili-Balvi cross Vilani. The Malta river[?] flows through the town.

The town was mentioned for the first time in 1495 with the name Wielona. In 1507, the largest estate of Latgale region became the property of de Overlak. In 1752, M. Riks, who was the ruler of Inflantija, bought the Vilani estate. He was the first landlord who very positively influenced the development of the region. The monastery and the St. Michael church in the baroque style were built under his leadership. The monks of the Bernardian Order were housed in the monastery. Because of the revolt of the Poles in 1830, the monastery had a library with 463 church books in Latin and Polish. The location on the trade road Riga-Rezekne favoured the development of Vilani. In 1839, the Vilani estate became the property of Vincent Janovskis. At the beginning of 1850s, Janovskis built a three-storied flax mill. There were only three such flax mills in Russian Empire at that time. In Vilani there was the largest leather production factory in Russia. It supplied the tsarist army with belts, bags, foot-wears, saddles and leather accessories. In the estate, there were also several small factories, for example two lime-kilns, a brick factory, mills, breweries. In 1852, Vilani was called a hamlet. There were 12 houses, the two-storied White pub once horses post station (, and several shops and bakeries. In 1862, Vilani received the official right of a hamlet. In 1924, monks and priests B. Skrinda and B. Valpirts of the Marijani Congregation arrived to Vilani. They revived the abbey, restored the monastery, adding the second floor to the building. In 1925, there were 4 schools in Vilani. When Vilani got the right of the town in February 25, 1928, it had a territory of 163 ha and 65 trade enterprises. About a half of inhabitants of Vilani was killed in World War II bay the Nazis. The town was also destroyed.

There are 58 enterprises, including 8 branch offices, now in Vilani. The woodworking enterprise, the charcoal producing producing enterprise and the printing-house “Katolu dzeive” are the largest of those. The local television was established in 1992. The Vilani hydroelectric power station, built in 1950 and renewed in 1994, is the first renewed private hydroelectric power station in Latvia.

The Vilani Catholic church, the monastery building, both built in 18th century, and the manor house of the Vilani estate with the park are the most remarkable architectural monuments of the town. The complex of the monastery buildings with the inner yard, an excellent example of the monasteries of Bernardian Order, belongs to the most unique architectural monuments of Latvian. The Vilani railway station is also an architecture monument that is worth seeing. The interior of this building in neo-eclectic traditions is well preserved.

The Lakstigalu (nightingale) island with an open-air stage, located not far from the Vilani estate, is a favourite recreation place of the inhabitants of Vilani. The Vilani museum tells about the history of Vilani from the ancient times to nowadays. Approximately 100 animals, which are living in the forests of Latgale region, are exhibited in the Vilani forest museum.

The memory plaque for the victims of totalitarian regime was unveiled in 1995, the memory plaque of the liberators of Vilani in January 11, 1920, and the memory cross of the national fighters against the Soviet regime in 1999.



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