On Wednesday, 10 December, Latvijas Banka is issuing a new 5 euro collector coin dedicated to the Baroque art style in Courland (Kurzeme). Latvijas Banka has intended this silver coin with gilded elements to be a reminder of Lestene Church and woodcarvings by Nicolaus Söffrens, the restoration of which is one of the most important projects in protecting the cultural heritage of Latvia.
The graphic design of the coin Baroque of Courland is created by Laimonis Šēnbergs, and Ligita Franckeviča is the author of the plaster model. The coin was struck by Mennica Polska S.A. (Poland). The obverse of the coin features a garland of acanthus leaves and the reverse bears an image of an angel, both taken from the altar of Lestene Church.
The cultural heritage of Baroque period is particularly rich in Latvia. The churches built in Courland in the 17th and 18th centuries in Latvia rank among the greatest treasures of the periods of historical styles. The largest Baroque ensemble in Courland (1704–1709) used to be located in Lestene Church. The altar, pulpit, confession and congregational benches and the organ case, all executed in one style, were the last carvings made in Söffrens's workshop.
Lestene Church was damaged by soviet artillery bombardments in February 1945. The Evangelical Lutheran congregation discontinued its activities in Lestene Church in 1961. The remnants of demolished church were taken to the Museum of Tukums in 1964, and finally the Church was turned into a drying kiln in 1967. As of 1982, partly restored fragments of the Lestene Church interior were on display at the Rundāle Palace Museum for some time. At present, the church building is under reconstruction, and its woodcarvings are being restored to be gradually taken back to Lestene.
The restoration of Lestene Church and woodcarvings by N. Söffrens is one of the most important projects in protecting the historical and cultural heritage of Latvia. Participation of each and every citizen in this project is of vital importance for accomplishing this noble project.
The coin Baroque of Courland is legal tender in the Republic of Latvia (yet hardly to be found in circulation, as collector coins in general are miniature works of art, highly admired and demanded by numismatic community and other interested parties). Its maximum mintage is limited to 10 000 coins.
As of 10 December, this new silver collector coin will be on sale at Latvijas Banka (cashier offices at K. Valdemāra iela 1B in Riga and in Liepāja Branch) and such traditional points of sale as banks and souvenir and jewellery shops. The price of the coin at Latvijas Banka's cashier offices is 51.65 euro.