Daugavpils is a city in southeastern Latvia, located on the banks of the Daugava River, from which the city gets its name. Daugavpils literally means "Daugava Castle". It is the second largest city in the country after the capital Riga, which is located some 230 kilometres (143 miles) to its north-west. Daugavpils is located relatively close to Belarus and Lithuania (distances of 33 km (21 mi) and 25 km (16 mi) respectively), and some 120 km (75 mi) from the Latvian border with Russia. Daugavpils is a major railway junction and industrial centre and lies approximately midway between Riga and Minsk.
The city is surrounded by many lakes and nature parks. It is also known for its overwhelmingly Russian-speaking population.
Daugavpils is an important cultural centre in eastern Latvia. There are 22 primary and secondary schools, four vocational schools, and the Saules College of Art. More than 1,000 teachers and engineers graduate from Daugavpils University (formerly Daugavpils Pedagogical University) and the local branch of Riga Technical University annually. There is also one Polish school, the only in the city, on Varšavas iela (Warsaw Street). Unity House contains Daugavpils Theatre and a recreation centre.
Daugavpils Theatre was restored a couple of years ago. There is also one cinema as well as other cultural institutions. The city exhibition center offers many cultural activities.
There are also several architectural, historical, and cultural monuments in Daugavpils. The most prominent is the Daugavpils fortress dating mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries. In April 2013 the Mark Rothko Art centre was opened in fortress.
The historical centre of Daugavpils city is an architectural heritage of national importance (the construction work was carried out in the 19th century according to the project endorsed in St Petersburg in 1826). The historical centre is the greatest attraction of the city and one of the most successful examples of balancing the aspects of ancient and modern times. Daugavpils is one of the few cities in Latvia which can pride itself on a unified ensemble of both classic and eclectic styles. The cultural heritage of architectural, artistic, industrial, and historical monuments combined with the picturesque surroundings create the essence of Daugavpils’ image and endow it with a special charm.