Two things become apparent when you arrive in Riga. First, there are a lot of green spaces and parks in the city and more lovely woods as you travel around Latvia.
The Brotherhood of the Blackheads Guild House
The second thing you’ll notice is the variety of architectural styles from medieval to Art Nouveau to Soviet era architecture and modern aesthetic. The Blacksheads Guild House (above) has been restored after it was destroyed by German bombing in 1941 and the Russians took down in 1948 whatever was left of the ruined buildings.
The houses of the Three Brothers represent three different eras and styles of architecture. And for clarification purposes, none of the owners were brothers. The White House is the oldest masonry building in Riga (dating around the end of the 15th c and the beginning of the 16th c). The middle house has 1646 marked on its façade which is when its current look originates. The green house from the 17th century is the youngest of the three.
St. Peter’s Cathedral
St. Peter’s Cathedral, an Evangelical Lutheran Church, has seen many reincarnations during its lifetime starting from the 13th century to its current state which it owes to renovations done in the 1980s to both the interior and exterior parts of the structure.
Swedish Gate, 1698
This is one of the oldest remaining structures in the city that has not been restored. It was part of the fortifications surrounding the city from the 17th century and provided access to the barracks outside the walls.
One of the most popular parks in the old town is Livu Square where you’ll find restaurants and shops.
This monument commemorates the hard fought independence of Latvia from the Russian occupiers. It was nearly torn down during the Russian occupation of the country between 1944 - 1991.
This sculpture is based on a Brothers Grimm tale about an aging group of animals, a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster who were no longer useful to their master and were mistreated and about to be scrapped. But they escaped and found a house which they took over and lived out the rest of their days. This piece is a subtle message to the Russian occupiers, with the animals breaking the barrier that symbolizes the Iron Curtain.
Memorial to Latvian Riflemen
The Latvian Riflemen were a military group formed under the Imperial Russian Army leadership to defend the Baltic territories from German soldiers during World War I. The Riflemen’s political position became complicated when the Red Riflemen attempted to establish Soviet rule in Latvia in 1919 at which time, Latvia had gained its independence.
Nativity of Christ Cathedral
Art Nouveau Architecture
See separate article about Art Nouveau architecture in Riga. https://www.travelswithcharie.com/2023/06/art-nouveau-architecture-in-riga.html
The construction of this new library building dubbed as the “Castle of Light”, was started in 2008 and opened to the public in August 2014 on its 95th anniversary. The National Library has been in existence since 1919 and has five million titles in its collection. It is open to everyone.
Central Market of Riga
You can find anything in this huge complex from fresh fish and meat, fruits and vegetables, cake and pastries, cheeses, clothing, souvenirs and more. See my separate article about the Central Market.
Where to stay:
Ibis Riga Centre
Mariejas iela 5
This hotel is centrally located and within walking distance to the old town, Riga Central Market, and Origo Shopping Mall. There are several restaurants and grocery stores nearby.
Where to eat:
Gan Bei is a posh Oriental restaurant on the third floor of the Origo Shopping Center. They have branches in other parts of the city. The food here is very good and the prices are reasonable.
The Stage by Two More Beers is a glass enclosed restaurant in the old town. I enjoyed sitting here and watching people pass by while leisurely eating my juicy grilled salmon with potato gnocchi. Service is first rate. Kalku iela 17.
Images by TravelswithCharie