A quiet, small town of Bauska, which has always been marked by its proximity to major trade routes, greets and welcomes travellers at Latvia`s southern border.
Pilsmiests, also known as Vairogmiests, originated in the middle of the 15th century, on the peninsula between the Musa and Memele rivers, beside the newly built Order of Livonia fortress. It was a safe residence place for the local gentry to whom the Master of the Order allotted the conquered lands. In 1518, the Master Walter von Pletenberg decreed a church was to be a built on the peninsula, which was then named St. Gertrude`s. At the time, a trading settlement was forming near the Memele ford, in a place where traders and travellers crossed the river.
After the founding of the Courland and Semigalia duchies in the second half of the 16th century, Bauska experienced the greatest growth period in its history. It became the administrative centre of the duchy, with the residence of the Duke in Bauska castle, and a significant trade centre through which the main route passed from Lithuania to Riga. By 1584 Vairogmiests had become too small and the Duke of Courland Gothard Ketler ordered the town to be relocated by the coast of the Memele. The new location had been prepared for the move and in 1573, the Holy Trinity church was built for the Latvian congregation. In 1594 the German congregations Holy Spirit church was completed and the graves of those that were resting at St Gertrude`s church, which was destined for demolition, could be moved. During this period, the main streets of the town were drawn – two along the Memele (today Riga and Pludona) and smaller streets crossing these. The town central market square boundaries were set between the two churches.
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