Valka ( pronunciation (help·info); German: Walk) is a city and municipality in northern Latvia, on the border with Estonia along the both banks of river Pedele.
Valka and the Estonian town Valga are twins, separated by the Estonian/Latvian border but using the slogan "One Town, Two Countries". The border dividing the Livonian town of Walk was marked out in 1920 by an international jury headed by British Colonel Stephen George Tallents. With the expansion of the Schengen Agreement and abolition of the Estonian/Latvian border in 2007, it was announced that common public bus transport would be established between Valka and Valga. Also, all border crossing-points were removed and roads and fences opened.
The town of Walk (in German) was first mentioned in 1286 and from 1419 was the seat of the Landtag of the Livonian Confederation. City rights were granted by the Polish king Stefan Batory in 1584. However, the town gained its importance only at the end of the 19th century when the Vidzeme teacher's seminary was operating here, and the important railway junction was developed. Furthermore the first narrow-gauge railway line in the territory of modern Latvia was stretched from Valka to Estonian city of Pärnu.
On November 15, 1917 the decision to proclaim the independent Republic of Latvia was made in Valka. The red-white-red flag of Latvia was raised here for the first time . On July 1, 1920 the town was divided between the newly-born Latvian and Estonian states.
There is one primary school and a gymnasium in Valka. The Institute of Latvia-Estonia provides further education.
Notable people from Valka
- Jānis Cimze (1814–1881), pedagogue, founder of Vidzeme teacher's seminary - first higher education institution in Latvia's territory
- Aigars Fadejevs (born 1975), race-walker
- Vents Armands Krauklis (born 1964), musician, politician, former mayor of Valka city (2001–2006), member of Saeima (2006-2010)
- Roberts Ķīlis (born 1968), social anthropologist, current Minister of Education and Science
- Pavel Loskutov (born 1969), Estonian long-distance runner
- Gatis Smukulis (born 1987), road bicycle racer
- Andris Vilks (born 1963), current Minister of Finance
- Valga, Estonia
- Tornio, Finland
- Haparanda, Sweden
- Aleksandrów Kujawski, Poland
- Durbuy, Belgium
- Östhammar, Sweden
- Weissenburg, Germany
- Tvrdosin, Slovakia
- Orimattila, Finland
- Frankfurt (Oder), Germany
- Narva, Estonia
- Ivangorod, Russia
- Novoye Devyatkino, Russia
- Svetogorsk, Russia
- Slubice, Poland
- Imatra, Finland
Rīgas iela (Riga Street) at Estonian border.
Apartment building from the Soviet era.