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The forest park Ķestermežs and the open-air stage

Address: 
Dobele

Ķestermežs is a popular recreation area for Dobele's inhabitants and guests. A leisurely stroll through it will bring the vigour of fresh air, and the picturesque Bērze river bend will please the eye. Built in the 1960s, the open-air stage there underwent major alterations in 1986 when it was given a roof and the seating area was elevated and expanded. In summer, people gather here to enjoy spectacular and musical social events.

 The name Ķestermežs comes from the name of the Dobele Lutheran parish sexton's house. Until 1887 "Ķesteri" housed one of the first schools in Dobele which offered a pre-gymnasium curriculum so that school graduates could go to institutions of secondary education. The scholl had a boarding-house to accommodate 50-60 boys from the environs of Dobele and also more remote places.

There used to be Gnomes' Hill (Rūķīšu kalns) in Ķestermežs. In 1938, on the initiative of the Dobele doctor Edgars Francmanis, a children's playground was aranged there. At the time the land was the property of the Dobele district hospital. A pavilion was built to provide the visitors with a shelter from rain. The Gnomes' Hill opening party took place on 21 May 1939. Precise information is not available but soon, presumably as the powers changed, the Gnomes' Hill gradually overgrew with shrubs.

 The huriccane of 18 June 1991 caused massive destruction in Ķestermežs. It tore along a 100 m wide track and uprooted 98 trees: pines, oaks, limes. Many of the destroyed pines had been really remarkable, over a hundred years' old.

In 2011, a paved path and a bikeway were laid running through Ķestermežs, the pedestrian overpass across the Bērze has been reconstructed, and the parking lot at the open-air stage on the left bank of the river has been asphalted.