Posted by: RasmaSandra | October 24, 2021

Wonderful Riga

Riga, the capital of Latvia is set on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the Daugava River. The river runs through the city dividing it into the Right Bank which is the city side and the Left Bank the suburban side.

VecRiga or The Old Town is on the right bank of the Daugava River and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are lovely cobblestone streets and sociable square as well as some of the city’s oldest houses and churches.

There are many interesting things to see walking through the narrow street like the narrowest Rozena Street where you can touch both sides of the street as you walk.

Skarnu Street has an arts and craft market.

The Great and Small Guild Halls date back to the time when Riga was a Hanseatic City, trading across the Baltic and Northwest Europe.

Other impressive things to see in the Old Town are the Gothic style St. Peter’s Church where you can go up into the spire to get spectacular views of the city.

The yard at the Convent of the Holy Spirit.

The complex of residential houses The Three Brethern and so much more.

In the summer you can relax at the outdoor cafes and watch the people go by.

Dome Cathedral is a well-known landmark in the Old Town.It is the seat of the Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia. The spire has a golden cockrel at the top weighing 86 kg and functions as a weather vane. In the 16th century the Dome Pipe Organ was the largest in the world, unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 1547. The present organ has a carved wooden case installed at the beginning of the 1880s with 6718 pipes.

The Swedish Gate dates back to the Medieval times when Riga was protected by a mighty wall with 20 towers and a 90-meter-wide moat which later became the City Canal that runs all through the city today past lovely picturesque parks.

The Swedish Gate is the only survivor from that time.Its reason for survival is that it was turned into an apartment for the city executioner, who would lay a red rose on the window sill of the morning of an execution. The stretch of wall along Torna Street was restored during the Soviet occupation.

Old St. Gertrude’s Church is a lovely church on Gertrudes Street. This is a neo-Gothic church with a red brick structure and a green copper spire.

One of the city’s highlights is its Art Nouveau that includesover 800 buildings dating from the beginning of the 20th century.There are many impressive buildings with lovely decorations. One of the best places to see Art Nouveau is on Alberta Street. Much of this street is the work of Russian architect Mikhail Eisenstein.

Also a star of the Art Nouveau movement is Konstantins Peksens who designed and lived in a building on Albert Street at the turn of the 20th century.The building at number 12 has had his apartment interior resored to its 1903 layout and decoration.

Tornkalna Lutheran Church is a lovely church that sits on top of a hill on the Left Bank of the Daugava in the neighborhood called Tornakalns. The neo-Gothic church dates from 1891 and was built to commemorate the birth of Martin Luther.

Laima Chocolate Museum will take you on a delicious tour. Laima is the largest chocolate producer in Latvia. The interactive museum is on Miera Street. There are many different exhibitions that show the history of Laima and how it produces the chocolates.You can purchase chocolates at the Laima shop and enjoy some at the cafe.

Esplanade Park is a lovely park on the Right Bank of the Daugava. It dates back to the 12th century and at one time was the parade grounds for the local garrison. It is a wonderful place to walk and relax. Here you can see the large statue of renowned popular Latvian writer Rainis and the statue of the Latvian Army’s first Commander-in-Chief Oskars Kalpaks. There are lush green lawns, and shady paths surrounded by the Orthodox Cathedral, the Latvian Art Academy, and the National Art Museum.

Latvian National Art Museum displays 19th and 20th century Latvian art. It was built by the Baltic German arhitect Wilhelm Neumann and completed in 1905. Two floors exhibit Latvian artists like the Expressionist Johans Valters, Art Nouveau artist Janis Rozentāls and the landscape painter Janis Rozentāls. Temporary exhibits can be found in the basement. On the roof is a terrace from which you can view the city.

The Freedom Monument is one of the most popular landmarks in Riga. This tall green lady that stands on top is affectionately known as “Milda.” She hold three gold stars in her outstretched hands that represent three historical regions of Latvia – Kurzeme, Vidzeme, and Latgale.

If you approach the base you’ll find 13 groups of reliefs recording national heroes, allegories, images from Latvian culture and pivotal moments in the nation’s history like the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the War of Independence.

Residents and visitors place flowers at the base of the monument to remember people who were deported to Siberia during Soviet times. There is a changing of the guard each hour. It is built from red granite and travertine.

The Freedom Monuments remains the centerpiece for official remembrance ceremonies.

Bastejkalna Park surrounds the Freedom Monument and reaches across both side of the City Canal. The name of the park translates to Bastion Hill. Over the centuries the park has developed and you can see gaslights, sculptures, formal flowerbeds,and a man-made waterfall. In the summer there is a fountain on the canal and tourists can ride in boats around the city. You can see ducks and swans here. Lovely wrought iron bridges let you cross over the canal.

Riga Central Market is one of the largest and most visited markets in Eastern Europe.It is an amazing sight with pavilions that were once German zeppelin hangars.These giant pavilions sit on the Daugava and each sells different products like meat, fish, dairy, and vegetables. A lot of modernization has happened and now these pavilions have changed greatly on the inside. Outside you can also find stalls selling different products in a very vast area, During the summer there are cafes you can relax at.

The Latvian National Opera is housed in an amazing white building with iconic columns. The new annex was added to the original building in 2001 with an additional 100 seats. Here you can enjoy opera and ballet performances. Take a walk in the lovely surrounding gardens with a fountain and a bronze statue.

At Town Hall Square you wil find the Town Hall and the impressive House of Blackheads.There is a stone marker in the ground that shows the location of what is believed to be the world’s first decorated Christmas tree, erected by the Brotherhood of Blackhead in 1510. Today you can still find the large Christmas tree decorated for the city here in Town Hall Square.

House of Blackheads originally was built in 1344 but was destroyed during war times. It was rebuilt in its original splendor in the 1990s. It is an impressive Gothic building with a Dutch Renaissance facade and many decorative statues.

Vermanes Garden is the second public garden in Riga. It is a lovely garden in the city center with an elegant fountain representing the four seasons and a set of stone lions. There are formal gardens and exotic trees,cafes, a children’s playground and an outdoor stage for music and dance performances in the summer.

Nativity of Christ Cathedral is for the Russian Orthodox community. It is very impressive with a golden central dome. Tsar Alexander II donated 12 bells which were melted down at the start of the Soviet occupation when the cathedral became the Republic House of Knowledge.In the 1990s it was restored to its original splendor as a cathedral.

The Museum of the Occupation is one of the city’s top cultural attractions. The museum documents the grim period from 1940 to 1991 when Latvia camed under the USSR, then the Nazis during WW II and then the USSR again.

Latvian Ethnographic Museum is an open air museum that is a delight to visit in a lovely spot on the north shore of Lake Jugla. Here you will find farmsteads, windmills, fishing villages, churches and country houses that were all moved from their original locations for preservation. You can see craftspeople creating things, enjoy Latvian food and drink and walk around the beautiful surroundings.

Jurmala is a famous international Baltic resort in Latvia

In the summertime you can relax and have some fun in the sun heading out to the “Latvian Riviera” or Jurmala as the beach is called that stretched along the coastline of the Riga Gulf. There are many towns that make up the resort and you can explore each of them as well. Take a walk along the main shopping street Joma Street with many shops on both sides that stretches through all the towns.

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