That’s how waterfalls are in Latvia
Yes, we have to admit: Latvian waterfalls (there are some 70 – 100 in total) are no match to Norwegian or Venezuelan ones. In fact, Norwegians would not notice them: meh, just a small step in the river.
But, man, they are beautiful anyway! Take Dauda Falls in the central part of the country, hidden in a lush, green canyon. Or Zartapi Ravine Falls in the north-west, located in pristine forest and falling over bright red rocks colored with black algae.
But the largest and by far the best known waterfall in Latvia is Ventas Rumba.
This waterfall is located in Kuldiga town. Or rather – Kuldiga town is located at this waterfall, because ships had to disembark at this natural barrage and due to this here appeared settlement. Nearby was a hillfort of local people – Curonians, but in the Middle Ages, in 1242 right at the waterfall was built a large castle (Goldingen) of Livonian Order. Now this castle is lost, but a town developed around this castle and nowadays the centre of Kuldiga exclusively consists of historical buildings, it is one of the most beautiful historical towns in Latvia.
Ventas Rumba has formed on a layer of Devonian dolostone. Below it is a more fragile dolostone and, as the power of the stream erodes this softer layer, the harder layer forms overhangs which fall down from time from time. Thus the waterfall is slowly receding – and as the stream in the central part is more powerful, middle part has receded further upstreams than the sides of waterfall.
In order to facilitate the shipping and trade, in the middle of the 17th century the construction of bypass around the falls was started but works were not accomplished. Later ships became larger and Venta as inland waterway was not feasible anymore.
Catching the fish… in air
In flood time the level of water rises and waterfall becomes lower and sometimes it disappears altogether. This opportunity is used by fish, going up and down the river. But, when the water is not that high, fish has to leap. And not always these jumps are successful and fish falls back. Local fishermen earlier used this opportunity and installed special traps, boasting that Ventas Rumba is the only place in Europe where fish is caught in air!
Also nowadays one can come here, especially in April and look how the fish is leaping over the falls. The sight of hundreds of vimba breams (Vimba vimba) flying in the air is magnificent, but in earlier times it had to be even more impressive, when this was done by salmon or even sturgeon.
Widest waterfall in Europe
Total width of Ventas Rumba is 270 m – this is the length of the rim of waterfall during the flood time. In summer, when there is less water, falls are some 245 – 250 m wide.
There are some wide waterfalls in Europe but, it seems, none is wider than Ventas Rumba. Rhine Falls (Switzerland) are approximately 150 m wide, Gullfoss (Iceland) – some 220 m wide, Dettifoss (Iceland) – some 100 – 200 m wide.
If measured along the rim of falling water, some waterfalls might be wider. Selfoss (Iceland) has a weird shape and total length of the waterfall front here exceeds 500 m, although the stream is much narrower. The unusual Hraunfossar (Iceland) seep through lava layer as thousands of small trickles over a 900 m long front. The length of tufa barrages in Plitvice Lakes (Croatia) reaches 400 m and more, with numerous trickles of water flowing over it.
Nevertheless Ventas Rumba in flood time represents an uninterrupted, 270 m wide wall (or rather – step) of water and, most likely, no other waterfall is that wide in Europe.
|Coordinates:||56.9683 N 21.9794 E|
|Address:||Europe, Latvia, Kurzeme, at the centre of Kuldiga City|
|Width:||249 m, during the flood time – up to 270 m|
Highlights of Latvia are the rich architectural heritage in Riga City, numerous palaces, country houses and castles.
Some of the most fascinating and awe inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls, or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.
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