- What colour do you think the rock might be?
- How high do you think it is?
- Are there any rock formations near you?
This natural monument is in a beautiful valley called Amata. Zvārte Rock is famous for its pretty views and is a symbol of Latvian geology. The orange sandstone part of the rock was formed when the Amata river flowed next to it. In 1939, they changed the path of the Amata river to protect the rock.
The total length of Zvārte Rock, including the curved part, is 320 metres and the height of the cliff is 45 metres.
Many people visit this place as it is one of the most popular geo-sites in Latvia. The rock has old carvings on it, so it needs to be preserved for future generations.
Listen and answer the following questions. Or read the text below out loud.
Zvarte Rock is a very famous and beautiful sandstone rock in Latvia. Not only is the rock itself interesting, but the area around it is also full of ancient stories. You can take a hike on the Amata Trail near the rock. There you will see many different types of rocks like dolomite and sandstone. And beautiful scenery with many different plants and animals. The trail goes along the Amata river from Melturi to where it meets the Gauja river.
- Can you imagine the plants and animals living near Zvarte rock?
- Would you like to go for a hike on Amata trail?
Read the story
People who live in Zvarte know a legend about witches! They say that when it’s windy at night, witches are flying from faraway places like the forests of Ziluzi and Vilkate. They dance, eat together, and use a language that no one can understand. The biggest parties happen on New Year’s Eve and at Midsummer. Then it’s better not to go out and look down on Zvarte.
Only evil women can turn into witches. On a Saturday near Midsummer, after a whipping, they wrap themselves in a white cloth and lie on their mouths in the bushes. Then the devil comes and turns them into a witch. From then on they can live in a house or in the forest, run on the ground or fly in the air, be seen or ne invisible, and be human or not human. Witches can make thunderstorms and hailstorms, and they can make the grass die. They can tear the moon from the sky and make Amata stand still. Lord, have mercy! Witches make people sick or turn them into stone.
Young witches don’t know all this right away. The devils teach them the evil arts at the top of the Bell Tower. If the young witches do what the devils say, if they remember all the wickedness well, everything is calm. But if they resist the devils, then the river turns into whirlpools. The witches and devils fight until the first rooster crows. Then the witches jump down, find their brooms, and fly away before the third rooster crows.
During the day, a witch looks like an ordinary woman, but she has a long tail hidden under her clothes! It’s a tricky life in Zvarte…
- Watch this video about Zvārte Rock with English subtitles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoBZ4J4uud8
- Visit this page https://www.stirnubuks.lv/buks/zvartes-ieza-stirnu-buks-2020/?en and read about the geologic trail of Amata.
Extra resources for learners
- Links to 4 Elements in Arts Resource Library