History and facts



Small fishermen’s houses and boats have been a characteristic part of Jūrmala’s landscape since time immemorial. And up until the 1830s, when swimming establishments began to rapidly spring up in Rīgas Jūrmala, fishing was the mainstay of the local economy. Fishermen harvested fish from the sea (Baltic herring, flounder, eelpout, ide) as well as the rivers (bream, vimba bream, pike, European eel). Their prosperity depended on luck, the weather and increasing fish populations; therefore, as several fish species began to disappear from the rivers in the early 19th century, the local fishermen supplemented their incomes by developing other economic spheres, such as vegetable and dairy farming. But, as the number of summer holidaymakers in Rīgas Jūrmala increased, providing accommodation for them became a much more lucrative and regular source of income. Fishing nevertheless remained a significant part of local life throughout the 20th century. The Fishermen’s Society of Rīgas Jūrmala was established at the beginning of the 20th century. Later, during the Soviet era, it went on to become the Uzvara fishing kolkhoz, and in 1991 the fish processing business was renamed AS Jūras līcis.

Origins of the resort town

The first swimming guests arrived in Kaugurciems in the 1730s. The first seaside spas were also opening around this time in England and France. The development of the swimming industry in Kaugurciems was halted in 1812 due to the war between Russia and France, and the spa was subsequently relocated nearer to Riga, in Dubulti. At first, holidaymakers lived in rooms rented out by the local fishermen, but, as the local transportation system was developed, in particular the opening of the railway in 1877, construction of summer homes boomed and the first sanatoriums and warm sea bath establishments were created.  The so-called Dīveļa (Duevel) Hotel was built in Dubulti in 1834, and it became a centre of local social life. The first spa house was built in 1847. At the time, Rīgas Jūrmala did not yet have its own local government, so holidaymakers formed swimming societies (Badegesellschaften) that maintained and improved swimming areas and also hired orchestras for concerts and parties as well as a doctor to tend to guests during the swimming season.

Development of the railway

Jūrmala’s development as a spa and resort town was in large part facilitated by the opening in 1877 of one of the oldest railway lines in Latvia, namely, the Riga–Tukums line. From then on, large numbers of people arrived in Jūrmala by train, and the area also became easily accessible for travellers from further reaches of the Russian Empire. Railway stops were established near existing swimming areas, which had in turn developed alongside the old fishing villages, and today Jūrmala has 14 railway stops, from Priedaine to Ķemeri. The railway stations feature an eclectic collection of architectural styles, ranging from the late-19th-century wooden station at Pumpuri to the concrete “wave” built in the 1970s at Dubulti.

The flourishing of Ķemeri SPA

In the late 18th century medical professionals turned their attention to the sulphur springs at Ķemeri, which the local residents had already long been using for therapeutic purposes. The first chemical analysis of the waters was performed in 1818. The first patients in Ķemeri stayed at the home of the local forester. Sulphur-rich water was brought from the springs in buckets and barrels; it was then heated and poured into large oak tubs for guests to bathe in. Baltic Governor-General von der Pahlen helped secure state financing and land for the construction of a rehabilitation resort in 1838, and therefore this year is considered the official founding of the Ķemeri spa. Ķemeri flourished from the late 19th century up until the First World War – establishments offering sulphur and mud baths were opened, a park was created, and a tram line connecting Ķemeri with the beach at Jaunķemeri was built. But the front line during the First World War passed through Ķemeri, and the spa was entirely destroyed. It experienced a second flourishing between the two world wars, and the new Ķemeri spa hotel built in 1936 became especially popular. During the Soviet era following the Second World War, a number of sanatoriums hosting guests year round were built in Ķemeri. Here, patients received treatments for joint, skin and gynaecological conditions as well as ailments of the nervous system.

The cultural backdrop

Jūrmala’s popularity as a resort and the significant increase in visitors also led to a blossoming of cultural life. Summer concerts had been taking place in Dubulti since the 1840s, and in 1870 concerts began in Majori as well, at Horn’s Concert Garden. It was here, in 1879, where the first concert of symphonic music in Jūrmala took place (Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor). Concerts began at the Edinburgh Spa House (nowadays known as the Dzintari Concert Hall) in 1897.

Famous people

Over the years, many well-known people from Latvia’s cultural circles –  architects, artists, musicians – have chosen Jūrmala as both home and a source of inspiration. Jūrmala is inseparably linked with the grand Latvian literary duo of Rainis and Aspazija. Maija Tabaka, one of the most prominent Latvian painters, still paints at her home in Lielupe. World-renowned pianist Vestards Šimkus, violinists Elīna Bukša, Paula Šūmane and Vineta Sareika and other Jūrmala natives regularly perform at the Dzintari Concert Hall.


Area 100km2
Inhabitants 57 371 (01.01.2016.)
Length of the beach 24 km
Distance from Riga city centre 25 km
Distance from the international airport "Riga" 15 km
Distance from Riga passenger ferry terminal 25 km

Jūrmala is the only resort city in Latvia and the first Latvian city to be admitted to the European Spas Association. It is the second largest city by territory in Latvia after Riga. Jūrmala is surrounded by water from two sides - the city's southern side borders with the coasts of the Lielupe River for 30 kilometres, but the city's northern edge - with the Gulf of Riga for 26 kilometres. ​

The beach

Jūrmala's beach, slightly over 24 km in length, is formed of fine white silica sand, which has been brought here by the coastal stream over thousands of years. The beach is a great place for resting and health strengthening: the rustling waves have a calming effect, the fresh air rich in phytoncide and ionized by the sea has a beneficial and healing effect on the respiratory tract, walking barefoot on the soft, warm sea sand massages your feet in the summer, as well as strengthens and relaxes them.


The Gulf of Riga encloses the whole of Jūrmala's 24 km - long northern side. In the south, Jurmala is bounded for 30 km by the second largest navigable Latvian river Lielupe. In the narrowest point opposite Lielupe's bend Banķis, between Majori and Dubulti, it is only 380 meters wide. Jūrmala's western territories between Sloka and Ķemeri feature lakes, swamps and wetland forests, Jurmala’s curative resources are concentrated here. The rest of Jūrmala is known as a Climatic recreational resort. The city has natural forest areas around Dzintari, Vaivari and Valteri. Particular attention is paid to environmental protection.


Jūrmala is a home to the Bulduri, Dubulti, Sloka, Ķemeri evangelical Lutheran congregations, St.Duke Vladimir and Ķemeri St. Paul and Peter's orthodox churches in Dubulti; the Majori, Sloka, Ķemeri Roman Catholic parishes, the Sloka Seventh-day Adventist church, Sloka baptist church and the Jūrmala evangelical faith Christian congregation "Dzīvais Vārds".


27 834 inhabitants are of Latvian nationality, 21 038 are Russians, 2 051 Byelorussians, 1 536 Ukrainians, 884 Poles, 604 Jews, 3 437 are of other nationalities, including unspecified nationality population (CMA data 01.01.2016 www.pmlp.gov.lv).