AINAZI NAVAL SCHOOL
Location: N57° 51` 55.1", E24° 21` 29.5" | Website: ainazumuzejs.lv/site/page/lv/startpage/
There is a small city called Ainazi not far from the boarder of Estonia, located by Vidzeme seacoast – a cradle of Latvian professional marine. This was the place when on the 23rd November of 1864 Ainazi local sailors founded a new type of naval school – the first naval school, where Latvian and Estonian peasants were able to learn marine sciences for free. It was done by local sailors who were inspired by shipping enthusiast Krisjanis Valdemars, and it was done by their own donated funds.
Example of Ainazi was so convincing that it received an official status in 1867, when there was a command in Russian Empire to build a wider school system after this example. 40 more naval schools were opened, out of whom 11 were located in Latvia. Studies were still for free, in mother tongue, and available for everyone. School was organising study trips on sail “Katarina.” K. Dals with his students from Ainazi naval school even participated in learning of North Sea road. Several new buildings were built for needs of Ainazi naval school. Approximately 3000 were studying in this school, and one thousand of them received a diploma of seagoing captain or steersman. The naval school was initially a naval school of I category with one preparatory and one specific class. In 1870 it became a naval school of II category, but in 1880 of III category, which gave the opportunity to prepare seagoing board heads.
The naval school was funded in a building in Ainazi, belonging to J.Veide. A special naval school building was built in 1870, but in 1902 on a land, received as a gift from Janis Veide, a new two-story school building was built. Both naval school buildings burned down during the WW II. During the 1960ies the naval school building was renewed and in 1969 Ainazi naval school museum was opened.
When the WW I started, naval school got evacuated to Russia, where it works up to 1917. But in 1918 it resumes its work in Ainazi.
Ainazi naval school museum is a memorial place for this first professional Latvian naval school and its graduates – Latvian and Estonian captains and steersman. The suggestion to reconstruct the old naval school building and make a museum in its premises was made by Latvian SSR History and revolution museum headmaster Janis Skolis. It was also supported by Ainazi and Limbazi local governments. The foundation date of the museum can be considered 18th December of 1968. Not only materials about Ainazi naval school and sailing are collected and kept in the museum, but it also popularizes the idea of Latvian sailing. Museum employees want to make sure that Latvian sailing spirit keeps on living.
150 years have passed after the foundation of Ainazi naval school, and Latvian citizens have sailed every sea, have gone into world, connected in the European Union, have joined Euro zone. The first euro collection coin of Bank of Latvia is dedicated to Ainazi naval school jubilee, letting sails of longing, trying and dreams go into all four directions of the World, at the same time inviting to remember the second part of the encouragement: “...Collect the gold in a dowry.”