A Travellerspoint blog

Latvia

Riga, Latvia.

Baltic Queen of Art Nouveau Architecture.

sunny

Riga.

One of Riga's many faced houses - Riga

One of Riga's many faced houses - Riga

Riga is the capital city of Latvia. It has a population of around 700,000. This city was founded in 1201 and is a former member of the Hanseatic League. Riga has an old town with lots of beautiful old buildings and a new town with lots of Art Nouveau architecture.

The New Town: Art Nouveau Architecture.

Riga's New Town is famous for its Art Noveau architecture. Beautiful examples can be found at Alberta 2, 2a, 4, 6, 8 and 13; Elizabetes 10a, 10b and also at Strenieku 4a. These streets are close together and while there is Art Nouveau architecture elsewhere in Riga this area is the most beautifully restored. We walked around this area 3 times on our visit, because we found it so stunning. The house at Strenieku 4a was built in 1905. It used to be a student hostel but now houses the Stockholm School of Economics. Alberta 12 houses the Riga Art Noveau Museum, which is open from 10am to 6pm. This building contains the apartment of Konstantins Peksens who was one of Riga’s best Art Noveau architects. He is supposed to have created around 250 buildings in Riga. The building was also home to famous Latvian painter – Janis Rozentals and writer Rudolf Blaumans. There is also some beautiful Art Nouveau architecture in the old town, for example at Jauniela 25 there is an Art Noveau building with a large female head.

Art Nouveau - Riga

Art Nouveau - Riga

Art Noveau - Riga

Art Noveau - Riga

Art Noveau - Riga

Art Noveau - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

Art Nouveau Architecture. - Riga

The Old Town.

The Old Town in Riga is also a beautiful place to visit. Sights here include the great and small guild halls, the cat's house, the beautifully restored house of the blackheads, the three brothers (three houses next to each other which each show a different style and period of architecture) and the Riga Museum of Occupation. There are also many churches and a beautiful cathedral. There are also lots of places to eat and drink. There is a beautiful park separating the old and new towns. When we visited, it was a very popular place for people to have their wedding photos taken. The Independence Monument also known as Milda is located on the parkland. It used to face a statue of Lenin, but that is long gone.

My husband with the old town. - Riga

My husband with the old town. - Riga

Gardens: Bastejkalns Park.

Bastejkalns Park consists of gardens which stretch along Riga's Canal dividing the old and new town areas. These are a very pleasant place for a stroll and a spot of people watching.

Gardens. - Riga

Gardens. - Riga

Gardens. - Riga

Gardens. - Riga

Gardens. - Riga

Gardens. - Riga

Gardens. - Riga

Gardens. - Riga

The National Opera House, Riga. - Riga

The National Opera House, Riga. - Riga

Wedding Group. - Riga

Wedding Group. - Riga

The Freedom Monument.

The freedom monument is located in the parkland dividing the old and new towns. The freedom monument is a woman standing on top of a tall column holding three stars in her hands. These represent the three historical regions of the country: Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Latgale. Locals affectionately call the woman on their freedom monument Milda. She was first unveiled in 1935. She was designed by Kārlis Zāle. At the base of the monument there are friezes showing Latvians working and fighting for their freedom. The freedom monument used to face towards a statue of Lenin which has long since been toppled. Milda is an important symbol of freedom for the Latvian people. There are guards around the bottom of it. Locals place flowers at its base and newly weds pose for wedding photos next to it.

The Freedom Monument - Riga

The Freedom Monument - Riga

Freedom Monument Guard - Riga

Freedom Monument Guard - Riga

Milda - Riga

Milda - Riga

The Cat House.

As a major cat lover, I really wanted to see this house. It is called the cat house because there are two statues of angry black cats on the roof of the house. It is located at Meistaru10/12. Legend states that the owner of the house was a wealthy merchant who wanted to join the Great Guild opposite his home. At that time the guild was controlled by German merchants and they did not want to admit a non-German into their ranks. In fury the owner of the house ordered his two roof top statues of angry cats with arched backs and raised tails to be turned so that their bottoms pointed directly at the Great Guild. The Guild members were outraged by such disrespect and took the merchant to court. After a lengthy court case the statues were turned round and the merchant was admitted to the guild.

Cat House - Riga

Cat House - Riga

The Cat House. - Riga

The Cat House. - Riga

The Cat House. - Riga

The Cat House. - Riga

The Cat House. - Riga

The Cat House. - Riga

The House of the Blackheads.

This beautiful building stands on the main square in Riga's old town. It was used by bachelor members of the blackheads merchant guild. The original building was completed in 1344. Over the centuries it was expanded and embellished. However, it was completely destroyed in the bombings of 1941. The building was completely rebuilt and was finally finished in the 1990s. This fits in nicely with the inscription over the building's door 'if I should fall, build me again.' There is a statue of Roland, Riga's patron saint in the centre of the square near the House of the Blackheads.

The House of the Blackheads - Riga

The House of the Blackheads - Riga

The House of the Blackheads - Riga

The House of the Blackheads - Riga

The House of the Blackheads - Riga

The House of the Blackheads - Riga

The House of the Blackheads - Riga

The House of the Blackheads - Riga

The House of the Blackheads - Riga

The House of the Blackheads - Riga

The Three Brothers.

The Three Brothers refers to three houses that are next to each other, but each one comes from a different architectural period and style. These three houses are the oldest stone houses in Riga. The oldest house is N°17. This house dates back to the 15th century. The other two date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Three Brothers - Riga

The Three Brothers - Riga

The Academy of Sciences.

Riga like many former Communist countries has removed lots of traces of its Soviet past. The Academy of Sciences Building survived. Locals nickname it Stalin's Wedding Cake. I rather liked it myself. There are still some hammer and sickle emblems on it. The building is 65 metres high. There is an observation deck on the 17th floor. This is open in the summer months, but there is an entrance fee.

The Academy of Sciences - Riga

The Academy of Sciences - Riga

The Academy of Sciences - Riga

The Academy of Sciences - Riga

Central Market.

Riga's Central Market dates from 1930. It is housed in five pavilions that were used as zeppelin hangars during WWI. It is colourful and well worth a stroll.

Central Market - Riga

Central Market - Riga

Central Market - Riga

Central Market - Riga

Great Choral Synagogue.

This is a very sad review. On July 4th 1941 while Riga was occupied by the Nazis, hundreds of Jewish refugees from Lithuania, together with local Latvian Jews were locked up in the basement of this synagogue then it was set on fire. The synagogue's ruins remain today. They are located about 10 minutes walk from the train station. Inside the ruins a metal menorah and a memorial stone remain as about the only indication of the buildings original role. Nowadays the remains are a peaceful place where children play and locals get on with their every day life.

Great Choral Synagogue - Riga

Great Choral Synagogue - Riga

Great Choral Synagogue - Riga

Great Choral Synagogue - Riga

Great Choral Synagogue - Riga

Great Choral Synagogue - Riga

Flower Stalls Riga.

There were some lovely flower stalls in Riga. It is customary for locals to place flowers at the base of the freedom monument. At one time during the communist era this would have been an offense.

Flower Stalls, Riga. - Riga

Flower Stalls, Riga. - Riga

Flower Stalls, Riga. - Riga

Flower Stalls, Riga. - Riga

Flower Stalls, Riga. - Riga

Flower Stalls, Riga. - Riga

Daugava River.

Stroll down to the River Daugava and walk across one of the bridges there for good views back towards the old town.

The River. - Riga

The River. - Riga

Pet Cats: No car should be without one.

I just found this cat rather cute in its comfortable resting place. I love cats and will photo any I see on my travels. Many are born posers.

Riga cat - Riga

Riga cat - Riga

Buskers.

There were quite a few buskers on the streets of Riga including one young girl playing a form of bagpipe.

Buskers - Riga

Buskers - Riga

Buskers - Riga

Buskers - Riga

Mrs World.

As we walked home on our last night we bumped into a beauty competition which held my husband up for a while, I can tell you. Personally, I did not know there was such a thing as Mrs World, or I might have entered!!!

Mrs World - Riga

Mrs World - Riga

Hotels.

The Reval Ridzene Hotel.

The Reval Ridzene was in a perfect location for us. It is situated between the old and new towns. It is a handy walking distance from everything we wanted to see the independence monument, new town with its art nouveau, old town with its beautiful old buildings, the bus station. However, although it is very central, it is far enough from the centre to be quiet at night. Our room was clean and comfortable. Staff were pleasant and the bill was correct at the end of our stay. We had a daily breakfast buffet with an extensive choice of food within the hotel restaurant which is shaped like a pyramid and made of glass. Address: Reimersa Street 1, Riga, LV1050.

Our Hotel. - Riga

Our Hotel. - Riga

Transport.

Eurolines Buses.

We travelled to Riga from Vilnius, Lithuania by Eurolines bus. Then from Riga to Tallin, Estonia by Eurolines bus. The buses were on time, clean, comfortable and very good value. I would definitely recommend them.

Overkill on the warnings"

We read so many negative things about Riga before we went, we almost did not go. We almost expected to be attacked as soon as we stepped off the bus. We saw no trouble at all during our visit and were not overcharged anywhere. Of course, be careful as you would be anywhere and certainly keep away from the dodgy bars/sex clubs with blacked out windows, but Riga in my opinion gets a worse than merited press.

Posted by irenevt 23:16 Archived in Latvia Comments (6)

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