The Tale of the Koknese Catfish

‘Once upon a time, a Catfish, thinking that life in Daugava was far too complicated, started to swim upstream and swam into the river Ogre. There he met Perch. As a newcomer, he asked: ‘How is life around here?’

Perch looked at Catfish closely and thought to himself – if a fellow this big will live in our river, it will not end well. I have to think of ways of getting him out of here. And he answered: ‘Oh, my! It is getting tougher and tougher every day. The good old times are gone! Do you think us perches were always small like this? You, Catfish are big and with a large moustache, but my father’s father was a lot longer and fatter than you! Do you see what have I become now? We are starving here and the water is dirty! If you stay here, you will become small like me.

When the Catfish heard this, he hurried back to Daugava and settled down in Koknese by the castle ruins, where Pērse flows into Daugava. He decided to stay there for the rest of his life. Now and then blissful life was interrupted by cannon shots in the castle ruins or the sound of motorboats, but it was outweighed by the nice 

music and chatty sounds coming from the park! He could sleep peacefully in winter, because he knew spring would come and the big waking festival would arrive! So much to do around here!

You will see for yourself — the best life is in Koknese!

Author: Ingrida Fridenberga


The Legend of the Koknese Castle Ruins

Once upon a time, a nobleman lived in the Koknese castle. This nobleman had a daughter who was very beautiful. Father made all her wishes come true. As the daughter was beautiful, there were plenty of men who wanted to marry her. The daughter said no to all of them, because she had fallen in love with a young and strong servant of her father’s. The daughter insisted that the servant should go to her father and ask for her hand in marriage. But the servant was too afraid. The young woman got mad, went to her father and announced that she is going to marry a servant. Even though she thought that father would agree, things turned out quite differently: her father became so angry that he was absolutely enraged.

He gave orders to throw the servant in one of the castle’s dungeons and locked his daughter up in the tower room.

The nobleman asked both of them to get these stupid ideas out of their heads, but the couple refused.

The nobleman even more angry, and ordered to take the servant to Zīle hill where the Rata ditch was located, tie the servant to the wheel and let him roll down the hill so that he would be torn into pieces. The daughter saw all this from her window and, as was not able to continue living without her loved one, jumped to her death from the tower.

Even now, around midday, an image of a beautiful young lady can be seen; she appears to be sitting on a rock and brushing her hair. When the bravest ones approach, she disappears, when they run away, she runs after them, thinking they must be her beloved servant.

Recorded by A. Urga. 1932, Koknese


Pērse girl

Nobody knew where she came from or where she was headed, only the people who lived close by noticed a girl who stayed near the Pērse waterfall quite often. She had a beautiful singing voice, her voice was heard far away, but in the evenings it carried even further, reminiscent of an echo of bells. The girl was strange, she 

avoided people and kept her distance. Nobody knew who she was or who her parent were. The girl had never been seen around there before. People started calling her the Pērse girl.

She used to make dandelion wreaths and put them in the water at the spot where Pērse flows into Daugava. When dandelions were gone she used poppies, cornflowers, then daisies, and in the fall – bright-coloured leaves. In the winter, she was often spotted on the bright Pērse bridge. All this happened the year before Daugava was flooded. In the spring, the girl was gone. The people had got used to her, so they wondered where the Pērse girl disappeared. Time went on, dandelions blossomed on the new shores of Daugava, followed by poppies and daisies, but the girl did not return. The people seemed to have forgotten about this event, when one day, not far from the place where the waterfall used to be, a girl in stone appeared. Knelt down, she was mourning her Pērse and the beautiful time she had spent there. ‘Look, our Pērse girl is back!’ – people were both happy and sad.

Author: Andra Gaigala


The Koknese coin

While in Koknese, one evening Rudolfs Blaumanis went to the old castle ruins. The weather was quite autumn-like and dark, but the writer carried on. When Blaumanis arrived at the castle, he felt as if someone was calling him and asking him to go to the place where the castle used to stand. So that’s where he headed. Meanwhile, the sun was setting and shone on the ancient castle walls. Not far from the place where castle towers could have been, he saw a strange shine in the hay. It did not look like it was from the sun. When Blaumanis reached closer, he saw an unusual shiny object. He picked it up and realized it was money, so shiny that it must have been brand new! He examined the find for a good while and then put it in his pocket to bring to the Koknese manor, where he was residing. Suddenly, something strange happened – the coin radiated such heat that he couldn’t keep it in his pocket or hands and was forced to put it back quickly. Then he thought he should hide the coin, if the ghost of the castle was guarding it so carefully and forbidding anyone from taking it. That must mean it was not for the public to see. So Blaumanis hid the coin well. When he arrived back at the manor, he told others about this strange event. But did anyone believe him? The next morning, Blaumanis returned to the Koknese castle ruins to bring the coin back to the manor by any means. However, the coin was nowhere to be found, even though he knew exactly where he had put it. People later told the writer that the coin in the castle ruins appears only to the chosen ones and it means good fortune. Blaumanis thought that this place must be special and did not go back to look for the coin. After that, while in Koknese, Blaumanis was very successful with his writing process.

In memory of this event, everyone who comes to Koknese can mint their own lucky coin. People are still saying that when the sun sets, sometimes you can see something shining in the castle ruins. 

Author: Andra Gaigala


The Faun and Koknese

Once upon a time a beautiful girl named Koknese lived by the river Pērse. The strange name was given to her by her father, who worked in the woods. When Koknese was 18 years old, she went into the forest to get birch boughs on the Ligo night. It was a strange day, the forest was rustling in an unfamiliar way and Koknese had a feeling that someone was watching her. She wasn’t wrong — not far away was the ruler of the fields and forests — Faun. He had been watching the beautiful Koknese for a while now, as she was collecting flowers in the meadow or doing chores around the house. Even though he was a ruler, Faun hadn’t yet gathered the courage to speak to the girl. But then something happened, Faun came too close and Koknese noticed him. She got scared and ran out of the forest as fast as she could, leaving all the birch boughs on the trail. Realizing his mistake, the Faun gathered the birch boughs and followed Koknese. He came to the park where he lost the girl from his view. The Faun was circling around looking desperately, but found nothing. Tired and weary, he went to Pērse to quench his thirst, but that did not help and with a gulp of water still in his mouth he rushed back to the park. Finally, he thought he saw Koknese behind a tree, quickly ran forward and failed to notice a stone wall. It was too late and he crashed right into it, with only his head sticking out. The water spilled from Faun’s mouth, becoming a fountain. Even now and then, when you go up to the fountain, you can hear the Faun saying her name in the sounds of the water – Kok-ne-se...

Author: Andra Gaigala


The Curious Catfish

In Daugava, across from Koknese, a Catfish lived. As regular as they come, but very curious. When all the turns and twists in the river had been explored, he started gazing at the banks. But how much can you see from the water? Little, so very little. So the Catfish decided to come to the shore. The only remaining thing was to come out of the water, but that was not easy as the fish did not have any arms or legs. Nor had anyone given him any advice on how to do it. After some struggle, he decided to be smarter. First he spoke to Catfish fathers, then grandfathers, however they did not know how to help him. When he realized that he would need to figure this out by himself, he laid down in the deepest current to think. At night, when the moon was shining on Daugava waters, the plan was ready – he found the biggest stone that was closest to Koknese and waited for the right moment. The next night, when a full moon touched the waves, the Catfish gathered all his strength, pushed his tail against the stone and jumped out of the water. That was one big splash! After a long flight, he landed in the nearby meadow. What to do next? The night of the full moon is full of wonders, so all you need 

to do is just make a wish and dreams will come true! As soon as the Catfish reached land, his tail turned into legs and shoulders into arms. Making his first unsteady steps, the Catfish learned how to walk. However, even though miracles happen, the dream ended at the moment when the bright moon was covered by a big cloud, erasing the power of the full moon. And so the Catfish lost his ability to walk. Looking for some kind of support, he grabbed the nearest object and froze. There he stands to this day The people of Koknese say that during a full moon, the Catfish regains his ability to walk for a moment and goes towards Daugava to swim around a little bit.

Author: Andra Gaigala


The Cellar of the Small Devil

He was a small, confused devil who wandered the world in search of happiness. He had been in many places when he heard that one can find happiness in Koknese. The small devil did not think twice and headed to Koknese. But where to look for happiness in Koknese? Anyone knows that happiness is not a flower you can pick or water you can scoop up –happiness comes when you least expect it. However, this little devil was impatient and wanted everything at once. To find happiness faster, he went through Koknese meadows, forests, swam across Daugava, but still did not find what he was looking for. Tired, he gazed into the distance. That night jack-o’-lanterns shined in the Koknese park. The little devil remembered how his grandfather used to say that happiness is alluring and bright and ran towards the lights, trying to catch them one by one. It seemed as if they were playing with him – once he caught one, it went out. Early in the morning, there was only one light remaining. He tried to catch it but it went out before his eyes. ‘If happiness can’t be caught, it can be dug out!’ – he thought to himself and started digging on the same spot where the last light went out. He was digging and digging until there was a large pit, at the bottom of which he noticed a silver ring. As soon as he pulled the ring, he lifted out a big chest with coins. ‘So this is my happiness’ – the small devil shrieked with glee. He turned the pit into a cellar and put the chest in a visible place. When people come into the cellar, the devil hides. He likes things that resemble shiny coins, that is why he often craves a shiny button or a piece of wrapped candy. When the writer Rudolfs Blaumanis went into the cellar, the devil whispered his childhood adventures into his ear. Now the devil is not only guarding his treasure chest, but also Koknese, which is his lucky place.

Author: Andra Gaigala


Eternity Oaks 

It happened a long time ago, spacious forests and meadows covered the area of Koknese. Four brothers settled down to live here. They liked the fast Daugava and the mysterious Pērse. Not far away from the place where Pērse flows into Daugava, the brothers built their houses. The houses were four low wooden cabins with small windows and small chimneys. Next to each of them, the brothers planted an oak tree. The times changed and so did the surroundings. More people came to live in Koknese. The cabins built by brothers were long gone, with new buildings in their places, but the oak trees kept thriving. Seemed like the time did not have any power over them. However, there came a day when the oaks lost their foliage – only the mighty trunks remained. When it seemed that it was over for the oaks, a sculptor noticed them. He knew what to do. To give them a second live, he made a sculpture out of the oaks. Three mighty oaks are standing stately again, only the fourth, the smallest one, is guarding their peace. As long as there are oak trees in Koknese, it will be strong and mighty. Is there an oak tree growing next to your house?

Author: Andra Gaigala



The Night Music

When Blaumanis found prototypes for the characters of Edgars and Kristīnes in the Koknese manor, he did not know that many years later something strange would happen. At midnight, when the fog swallows nearby lands, everyone can see two silhouettes, a man and a woman, going from Koknese manor to the music school. They move slowly, gliding a few centimetres above the ground. Their clothing is from another century. They both resemble lonely shadows that slide through the school entrance door. Soon thereafter the silence of the night is interrupted by piano sounds. In the moonlight it is visible that the big hall has a faint light. Edgars is dancing with Kristīne in there. As the dawn breaks, they slide through the door as quietly as before and head back to the manor. During the day everything is calm and nothing indicates the night events. Sometimes the lid of the piano is open or some object is misplaced. No-one knows where they live. Inexplicable noises and a feeling that there is someone else in the room indicate their presence in the manor. Good fortune awaits the brave ones who see them together and are not startled.

Author: Andra Gaigala

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