Riga, Latvia

In Latvia you can discover the picturesque Courland, wide and untouched Baltic Sea beaches, magnificent castles and old manor houses. The capital Riga awaits you with a lot of flair, a lively cultural scene and a unique old town. To get an overview of the travel destinations, here is information about the most important holiday destinations in Latvia.

Politically, economically and culturally, according to Allcitypopulation.com, Riga is the undisputed center of Latvia and with around 700,000 inhabitants it is by far the largest city in the country and even in the whole of the Baltic States. Riga was founded in 1201 and has had an eventful, glamorous history: an important trading city, member of the Hanseatic League and also a subject of dispute between Swedes, Russians, Germans and Poles. Riga city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

Riga is lively, diverse and, by the way, pretty to look at. You can easily spend a week or more here without getting bored. The sights are just lined up next to each other. The Sweden Gate (Zvidru varti): It is the last of the former 25 city gates of Riga. It was built in the 17th century and has been connecting the old town with Torna iela street ever since. “Three brothers” (Tris brali) is the name given to a building ensemble on Maza pils iela. The houses are “related” to the three sisters in Tallinn and were built between the 14th and 18th centuries. The one at number 17 is said to be the oldest residential building in Riga. The foundation stone was laid in 1211 for the cathedral, which combines different architectural styles. The huge organ from the 19th Century is just as worth seeing as the carved organ front or the decorated pulpit. The Riga Castle (Riga pils) was the headquarters of the Teutonic Order for a long time. Today it is the residence of the Latvian President. The House of the Blackheads (melngalvju nams) is particularly magnificent: Baroque decorative elements adorn the Gothic brick gables. A wonderful mix of styles and a piece of jewelery on Rathausplatz. During the Hanseatic League it was a meeting place for unmarried merchants. However, the building is a replica from 1999, as it was damaged by World War II and the Soviets then blew up the original building. The House of the Blackheads (melngalvju nams) is particularly magnificent: Baroque decorative elements adorn the Gothic brick gables. A wonderful mix of styles and a piece of jewelery on Rathausplatz. During the Hanseatic League it was a meeting place for unmarried merchants. However, the building is a replica from 1999, as it was damaged by the Second World War and the Soviets then blew up the original building. The House of the Blackheads (melngalvju nams) is particularly magnificent: Baroque decorative elements adorn the Gothic brick gables. A wonderful mix of styles and a piece of jewelery on Rathausplatz. During the Hanseatic League it was a meeting place for unmarried merchants. However, the building is a replica from 1999, as it was damaged by the Second World War and the Soviets then blew up the original building.

Let us come to the somewhat younger buildings: The building boom at the beginning of the 20th century gave Riga an architectural style that appeared on a large scale, the Art Nouveau. Magnificent buildings with rich ornamentation, nicely decorated facades, bay windows and neat window elements characterize the cityscape. That is why Riga is often called “The Pearl of the Baltic States”. Today, visitors can admire around 800 Art Nouveau buildings in the Latvian capital. Most of them are in the center, in the embassy district and in Alberta iela. Since 2009 there is even an Art Nouveau museum in Riga. It was set up in the former apartment of the architect Konstantins Peksens in Alberta iela. A walk in the footsteps of the Art Nouveau facades is highly recommended!

A visit to the occupation museum, which is right next to the House of the Blackheads, is interesting. The museum, founded in the 1990s, gives an impression of the occupation of Latvia by the National Socialists and the Soviets. Anyone interested in the history of Latvia should definitely plan a visit.

Riga, Latvia

The market halls of Riga are popular with tourists. It is interesting to stroll between the stands and in the halls, the market is one of the largest in Europe according to Countryaah.com.

But besides mentioning all the pretty and interesting sights, it should not be concealed that Riga also has a different face: in the outskirts with their prefabricated buildings, a legacy of Soviet urban planning, many Latvians live a modest life. That is Riga too. Above all, the economic crisis from 2007 onwards hit the country significantly. Unemployment rose sharply, and the economy collapsed most heavily in the entire EU.