Alūksne is situated 202 km from Riga, in the north-east of Latvia, in Alūksne highland. The name of the town and the lake has originated from a Latgalian word „olūksna” – a place in a wood rich in springs. Alūksne was a part of the ancient Atzele region. In historical documents Alūksne was first mentioned in 1284 – the Pskov Chronicles I and II – under the name of „Alyst” and „Volyst”. In 1342, under the guidance of the Master of the Livonian Order, Burhard von Dreilevan, the construction of a stone castle on the picturesque island of Lake Alūksne was finished. On March 25, the Annunciation Day, the castle was consecrated. In honour of the event and the day, the place was given the name of Marienburg.
Though until 1560 Alūksne was the main and the most powerful fortification in the eastern part of the Livonian Order, during the Livonian War, in February of 1560, its Komtur Ewert Ziberg surrendered without fight to the Russian military leader, Knyaz Andrey Mikhailovich Kurbsky. Marienburg was a part of Russia from 1560 till 1583. Later the state authority changed seven times: during the time between 1583 and 1600 it was a part of Poland, from 1600 to 1602 – a part of Sweden, from 1602 to 1625 – a part of Poland, from 1625 to 1658 – a part of Sweden, from 1658 to 1661 – a part of Russia, but from 1662 to 1702 – a part of Sweden.
In 1702, during the events of the Great Northern War, Alūksne was captured by the Russian troops commanded by Boris Sheremetev. The castle was blown up, and the town near it was burnt down.
In 1721, after the signing of the peace treaty, the place became the dependency of Russia for 200 years. In 1750, the Empress of Russia, Elizabeth, presented Alūksne to her chancellor, Count Mikhail Vorontsov who sold it to the secret adviser, Baron Otto Hermann von Vietinghoff. In the second part of the nineteenth century, Alūksne became a significant trade centre, and due to the construction of the narrow gauge railway line Stukmaņi-Gulbene-Alūksne-Valka in 1903, its significance increased.
In 1807, in honour of the Russian and Swedish war-craft and heroism, Burhard von Vietinghoff built the Temple of Honour on the peninsula of Lake Alūksne.
On July 1, 2009, when 16 municipalities – Alūksne town, Alsviķi, Anna, Ilzene, Jaunalūksne, Jaunanna, Jaunlaicene, Kalncempji, Liepna, Maliena, Mālupe, Mārkalne, Pededze, Veclaicene, Zeltiņi un Ziemers rural districts united, Alūksne region was formed.
Alūksne region is situated in the north-eastern part of Latvia, and it borders on Ape, Gulbene, Balvi and Viļaka regions in Latvia, as well as the Republic of Estonia and Russian Federation.
The territory of the region covers 169726.5 ha, but the territory of the town is 1432.9 ha (according to the State Land Service information).
Alūksne town is the administrative centre of the region. It is situated 204 km from the capital of Latvia, Riga, on the shore of Lake Alūksne – the eleventh biggest lake in Latvia.
According to the central statistics data in 2013, the number of inhabitants registered in Alūksne region was 18501.