Strenci[dead link] (in Latvian Strenči) is a city in Valka district, northern Latvia, 25 km from the border with Estonia. Strenči lies half way between Valmiera and Valka.
City-wise equipped with all necessary attributes, including the Tourist Information Centre, but from an infrastructure point of view this place is as unpromising as Valka. Strenči was first mentioned at the end of the 17th century. The city began to expand at the end of the 19th century, due the construction of the railway. The most significant event its history was the creation of a large mental hospital, which remains the main city attraction and is perhaps the only reason why residents of other cities come here. Nevertheless, it is still pleasant to take a walk along the shore of Gauja, where the park is cut in half.
- 1 Tourist Information Centre, Rīgas iela 7, ☏ +371 64715667, email@example.com. M–F 08:30–17:00. Also has a map [formerly dead link] of the town.
The main road from Riga to Tartu in Estonia goes through Strenči centre. You can get here by bus or train from Riga.
There are plenty of buses and train connections, see 1188.lv. The train station is a little further northeast and does not leave the impression of anything being here when disembarking from the train.
Just walk or take your car. Strenči is a small place.
- 1 Strenči Mental Hospital (Strenču psihoneiroloģiskā slimnīca), Valkas iela, ☏ +371 27877410 (museum). Built at the beginning of 20th century and has a beautiful park around it. The hospital buildings are a monument of architecture as well. It was common in the Russian Empire to build psychiatric hospitals on a grand scale. It is hard to say why such a hospital was built here, but a dozen brick buildings, decorated in white and red colours form bizarre assembly. The highlight of which is the water tower, built in 1907, combined with a chimney – completely unaccustomed, although it would seem that a pre-revolutionary boiler house is more than natural. Also pay attention to the fire station folded around the boulders of the same period.
The hospital has a museum, on prior arrangement. The rest of the area of the hospital serves as a city park and is accessible to everyone – there are no fences or any other signs of a strict regime here.
- 2 Lutheran Church, Baznīcas iela 2. If you believe local information, this church was a wooden construction from 1907, and then in 1936 rebuilt in stone. From the outside it looks rather ordinary, but a closer look reveals that the shape of the building is completely uncanonical. It is a rectangular, and even extended by two chimneys above. The altar and the stained-glass windows belong to the same second half of the 1930s, pre-war period.
- 3 Bridge across the Gauja (south of the city). A narrow and reinforced concrete bridge on the road to Smiltene. It was built in 1909 and is recognized an architectural monument. The roadway is paved with cobblestone, but other parts of the bridge are still wooden.
- 1 Strenči Nature Trail, ☏ +371 64715667, firstname.lastname@example.org. The trail runs alongside the Gauja river in the Ziemeļgauja protected area.
Along Rīgas iela there are many small shops and grocery stores, but no shopping centres.
- 1 Kafejnīca Sanvik, Rīgas iela 6. M–F 10:00–18:00, Sa 09:00–16:00. In the central square, opposite the Tourist Information Centre. The only place in the city where you can eat.
- Restaurant of guest house "Strenci", Rigas iela 28a.
Probably the most unfavourable city to have a bar or pub.
- 1 Hospital Guest House, Valkas iela 11, ☏ +371 20281058, +371 26413135. Toilet, shower and kitchen are shared. €10 per 24 hr.
- 2 "Strenci" Guest house (Strenču Viesu Nams), Rīgas iela 28a, Strenči, ☏ +371 26454545, email@example.com. Place for up to 40 people. Continuously collects quite negative reviews due to the cold rooms, lack of breakfast and hot water, and internet problems. From €20 per person.
- Seda – Just 5 km northeast. Founded in 1953 in an uninhabited area, it still embodies the pomp of Communist and Stalinist shock-work aka architecture. Nearby a vast peat bogs man-made nature area can be found, and is not to be missed. Both occurrences are historically tied to each other.
- Valka – A unique town on the Estonian border, which runs through the town centre, creating Valga on the other side. It is close to regaining the status of an important cultural centre.
- Smiltene – Features a manor, some castle ruins, and a watch tower over the surrounding area. Not very interesting, but quite cosy and slightly larger than Valka, and not far from the Pskov highway.
- Valmiera – Features the only professional theatre in the region, castle ruins, a medieval church, a famous brewery, and is the start of the Gauja National Park.
- Cēsis – One of the country's oldest towns. It has an impressive castle complex of Livonian Order origin, a charming city centre with some cobblestoned streets, and historic wooden buildings.