Madona and Madona district – a place where you are always welcomed
City of Madona covers approximately 10.41 km2 and about 7646 people live there (as of 01.01.2021); approximately 87% of them are Latvians, but the rest are foreigners.
Madona is the administrative center of Madona district. The district was founded in 2009 and it incorporates the City of Madona and 14 municipalities. This is the third largest district in Latvia and the largest in Vidzeme region. The district covers approximately 2153.4 km2 and about 24,728 people live there (as of 01.01.2021).
The distance between Riga and Madona is 166 km.
The Madona Manor (from the German word Madohn or Modohn) or Biržu Manor most likely was established in the 17th century. The narrow-gauge railway line constructed at the turn of 19th and 20the century connecting Stukmaņi (Pļaviņas) and Valka affected the further development of the city and had a positive impact on the local population. A regular traffic was implemented in 1903, placing one of the stations also in Madona. Therefore, Madona became a local center.
In the spring of 1921, Madona had more than one thousand inhabitants and received rights to become an individual village. In 1923, the first architectural plan was developed for Madona; furthermore, names were allocated to the central streets. But on June 7, 1926 Madona became a city, thus proving that it is one of the latest cities in Latvia.
Tourism in Madona
In the eyes of visitors the city seems special due to its picturesque landscape. Interestingly enough, Madona is one of the highest places in Latvia – it is located 122-193 meters above sea level.
Madona is also one of the most popular winter recreational regions in Latvia, thus we have a saying that Madona is the winter capital of Latvia. That is based on both hilly terrain and natural steadiness of snow. During winters snow in Madona is deeper and remains one month longer than elsewhere in Latvia.
The city is characterized by a pronounced peace in contrast to the bustle of big cities; it is blessed with green parks, colorful greenery and refreshing fountains. A stroll through the city from the Gathering Square (Saieta laukums) to the Madona Regional Studies and Art Museum will be a true enjoyment for everyone regardless of the season; although, you may also choose to take a stroll through our parks or wide and clean streets. We highly recommend everyone to watch advertisements by local companies and learn something from the information posted on the environment screen, to pass through the Love Ravine, to rest next to one of the highest fountains in Latvia and to appreciate magnitude of the most ancient stone buildings. As a contrast, you can also experience modern and renovated buildings – House of Culture, Musical School and educational institutions. As a peculiar trend or feature of the city’s architecture, several buildings have upper story extensions built on the extant foundations, thus combining certain lightness in appearance and modernism with practicability and functionality of use. Don’t miss the Madona Regional Studies and Art Museum! Step inside to take look at the 4 to 5 different exhibitions displayed at the same time. That will also give you a chance to buy something nice at the Tourist Information Center established within the museum to remember your trip to Madona or to acquire a new guide for your future trips to other Latvian cities.
When travelling with a car, we recommend visiting several of our most significant active recreation sites, for example, City of Madona Sports Center, a multifunctional building used for various sporting and cultural events, and Kart Circuit suitable for practicing, competitions and recreation as it allows one to pay for a kart and experience the true flow of adrenalin. It is worth visiting Sports and Recreational Base “Smeceres sils” with well-established ski runs developed in line with the requirements mandatory for international competitions. Furthermore, the base offers other sporting and entertainment options both in winter and summer. The accommodation and premises for events are also available at the base.
Madona covers a small enough area for everyone to be capable to go or run around it. A magnificent and well-light ring road beloved by pedestrians, cyclists, Nordic walkers and runners goes all around Madona. Since the city has a hilly landscape, if you choose to take the ring road and travel around it, you will enjoy an attractive panorama over the city when reach the highest point.
Madona district composed of two different areas (Central Vidzeme Upland and Lubāns Plain) has several impressive natural sites of Latvian significance. In Madona district, there is Gaiziņkalns, the highest mountain in Latvia (312 meters above sea level), which has an active alpine and cross-country skiing offer during winters and well-maintained trails for strolls in summers.
In Madona district, there is also a part of Lake Lubāns, the largest lake in Latvia (14 km long and 9 km wide) which also serves as one of the most popular bird-watching spots in Latvia; during migration periods there are about 20,000 waterfowls in the area. In addition to the Tourist Information Center in Madona, there is also the Information Center of Lubāns Wetland established next to the Lake Lubāns. The Information Center has wide recreation and entertainment offer, including on-site events, picnics with fresh fishes from Lake Lubāns, and tourist advice on other activities in Madona district.
The district also has two protected nature reserves (Krustkalnu un Teiču) and a dendrological garden, Kalsnava Arboretum, located within the area of the Latvian State Forests and especially beloved by tourists; every year it gathers hundreds of people during the Peony Festival (in the middle of June).
Culinary tourism is becoming more and more popular. There are several great farms in Madona district capable of truly treating you with tasty dishes and memorable moments, as they welcome tourist groups and hold unique tasting events. The menu includes products most specific to Madona district: homemade bread, berries, products derived therefrom, medical herbal teas, processed dairy products, homemade wines, goat cheese, picnics with fresh fishes from Lake Lubāns, as well as other country-side goods.
In Madona district, there are several hospitable lakeside accommodations and resting places ready to welcome you for a good night’s sleep, as well as saunas with special sauna-related traditions. The district offers everyone to visit farms with different farm animals, to attend wide variety of creative workshops, to try your skills at the meadows golf or to simulate several hunting situations at a shooting range.
Madona district is rich with memorial places – museums of several important persons (A. Burovs, A. Čaks, O. Kalpaks, A. Bieziņš, Doku Atis, A. Eglītis).
It is impossible to speak about tourism in Madona district without mentioning culture and art events as they gather hundreds and thousands of people every year: Museum Nights (in the middle of May), Madona City Festival (at the beginning of June); Festival of Fire Sculptures (before Midsummer Festival), Festival of Popular Music “Golden Hit” (at the end of July), Festival of Latvian Music (at the end of July), Festival “Sounds of the Lake” (in the middle of August), event for singing and musical families “Swarm” (November), etc.
Our annual and highly popular entertainment and sporting events also play an important community role: “Auto traks”, a motorized driving up the Gaiziņš (at the beginning of February); Big Carnival of Gaiziņš (at the beginning of March); Madona District Cycling Day (at the end of May); Aviation Festival (at the beginning of July); world championship stages and Latvian cups in motoracing, kart racing etc. competitions. Since we are one of the central Latvian regions for winter sports, every year the Sports and Recreational Base “Smeceres sils” holds Scandinavian cup in cross-country skiing and world cup stage in ski-orienteering.
Please find more detailed information on the aforementioned and several other recreational options at our webpage under the following sections: Sights, Accommodation, Public Catering, Skiing, Active Tourism and Routes.
Have a thrilling holiday, new revelations, memorable adventures and beautiful memories about your experiences and everything that was witnessed and enjoyed in Madona district!
We work for you to feel welcome here!
Madona district municipality
Tourist Information Center