PARK OF THE PALACE AND ISLAND
The Park of Jelgava Palace was founded in 1817 on the site of the former ramparts. The park has romantic canals, bridges, several palace buildings and the Governor's Island, which makes it one of the most beautiful parks in Jelgava. Several centuries-old trees also grow in the Palace park - chestnuts, oak and grey aspen.
Map of the Jelgava Palace Park
In 1971 a wonderful tradition was established at the Latvia University of Agriculture - on the first day of study newly admitted students planted a tree in the palace park, thereby developing the park and perpetuating the beginning of their student life. A capsule was placed under the roots of the tree, in which the evidence of that time was placed, as well as the pride in their University always were expressed, the obligation to study well, to hold high the honor of their university was always emphasized. The hope was also expressed that fellow students would gather at the planted "Tree of Friendship" during the gatherings.
Since over the years there has been less and less space for new trees in the park, starting from 2012 trees are no longer planted, but instead cobblestones are placed in the pavement of the Academic Road.
Jelgava Palace is located in the southern part of the four-kilometer island. The influence of people is strongly felt here - not only students, but also young rowers, as well as drivers who cross the bridges across the Lielupe and Driksa rivers, “live” on the island. The northern part of the island, in turn, has not been touched by humans and is even wild - there is a sanctuary of national importance, where more than 20 wild horses are living.
The floodplain meadows of the Lielupe River, as a valuable biotope and an important nesting site for birds, is included in the list of valuable territories of the Latvian Nature Conservation Plan of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and in the list of objects of the CORINE biotopes project.
The Lielupe floodplain meadows are an important bird area on an international scale (IBA Important Bird Area), included in the European list of IBA Bird Life International. This area is one of the most important nesting sites for meadow birds in the country. In the sanctuary you can find about 100 species of birds, several animals of rare and protected species listed in Annexes II and IV of the European Community Directive 92/43 / EEC on the conservation of natural habitats, wild fauna and flora. The Lielupe floodplain meadows are an important nesting place for corncrake.
Birds of a number of rare and protected species can be found here: white stork, northern swan, lesser swan, marsh harrier, river tern, black tern, great snipe, oystercatcher, wood sandpiper, redshank, black-tailed godwit, ruff, spotted crake, little crake, corncrake, gray partridge, shrike, Savi's warbler, European penduline tit, bearded reedling.
Plants of a number of rare and protected species also grow in the reserve: heath spotted-orchid, Baltic marsh orchid, marsh helleborine, autumn crocus, forest tulip, snake's head fritillary, and sand leek. Bats, beavers and otters also live here. However, the most interesting for everyday guests will be a visit to the wild horses that live on the Palace Island that is several kilometers long.
In August 2007, 16 wild horses "Konik Polski" from Holland found a new place to live in Jelgava - in the nature reserve of Palace’s Island - the Lielupe floodplain meadows. Less than a year later, they became so confident that they did not hesitate to appear in the southern part of the island, where they adorn the surroundings of the Jelgava Palace with their presence. Mr. Einars Nordmanis, a graduate of the Faculty of Forestry of the Latvia University of Agriculture, looks after them every day.
The new inhabitants are the closest by origin to the extinct wild horse - the European tarpan. Animals are taken to meadows to protect the nesting sites of rare bird species from overgrowing by tall grass and shrubs.
Horse guardian Einars Nordmanis reminds to visitors of the Jelgava Palace’s Island that feeding horses and reckless approach to them can endanger both horses and people. Horses should be observed from a distance of at least 25 meters, without trying to get as close to them as possible. They are wild horses, and it is difficult for the unexperienced to predict their behavior.
Anyone can visit the Palace’s Island, but in exceptional cases it is possible to get to know the horses better only if accompanied by a horse guardian. A story about the habits of wild horses can be ordered by phone: 29841851 or 20264343.