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(tsā`sēs, –zēz), Ger. Wenden, town, central Latvia, on the Gauja River. It is a rail terminus, an agricultural market town, and a popular summer resort. Founded in 1209, Cesis was the seat of the Livonian Knights and became a member of the Hanseatic League. In 1561 it passed to Poland-Lithuania. Attacked by the forces of Ivan the Terrible in 1577, the fortress was blown up by its own garrison. Cesis was transferred to Sweden in 1629, to Russia in 1721, and to newly independent Latvia in 1918. It was the site in 1919 of a Latvian victory over a German free corps. The name of the town also occurs as Tsesis and Zehsis.



a city and the administrative center of Cēsis Raion, Latvian SSR. Cēsis is situated on the Gauja River, 90 km northeast of Riga. It has a railroad station on the Valga-Riga line.

The first reference to Cēsis dates from 1206. The city was called Kes’ in the Russian chronicles; its German name is Wenden. It belonged to the Livonian Order and was one of the residences of the master of the order. The city was a member of the Hanseatic League and traded with Russia. Cēsis was occupied by Russian troops in 1577 during the Livonian War of 1558–83. It fell under Polish control in 1582 and under Swedish control in 1629. In 1703, during the Northern War of 1700–21, Russian forces occupied the city, and it was incorporated into Russia. In 1785 it became a district capital of the Province of Livonia.

From 1919 to 1940, Cēsis was part of bourgeois Latvia; during this time it received its present name. It became part of the Latvian SSR in 1940. From July 5, 1941, to Sept. 26, 1944, the city was occupied by fascist German troops and was partially destroyed; it was rebuilt after the war.

Cēsis has a motor-vehicle repair plant, a plant producing rein-forced-concrete structural members, the Césu Alus Brewery Production Association, a branch of the Valmiera Meat-packing Plant, and a branch of a dairy combine. Educational and cultural institutions include a medical school, a music school, a museum of history and art, and the Veidenbaum People’s Amateur Theater.

Cēsis has partially retained its medieval street plan and 18th-century buildings. Areas developed in the 19th and 20th centuries follow a regular plan. Construction during the Soviet period has proceeded according to a general plan worked out in the 1960’s. A new area, Zvirbuļ Kaļns, has been built.

Outstanding examples of architecture include a Konventshaus (13th–16th centuries, destroyed in the early 18th century, now being restored), and the Romanesque-Gothic St. John’s Church (1281–83, bell tower rebuilt in the 19th century). Cēsis has monuments to V. I. Lenin (bronze, 1959) and to the Soviet liberation forces (artificial stone and copper, 1946), both by the sculptor K. Jansons.


Anspak, A. Tsesis: Putevoditel’po gorodu i ego okrestnostiam. Riga, 1960. (Translated from Latvian.)
Anspak, A. Tsesis. Riga, 1969. (Translated from Latvian.)