Country: Latvia Language: Latvian Currency: Euro (€)
Riga is a rich and lively city in Northeastern Europe. Although the Old Town is quaint and charming, it holds the title of the Baltic’s largest metropolis. Riga is over 800 years old, but most of the Old Town, including the quintessential House of Blackheads, was destroyed during World War II. Riga is the perfect combination of medieval and modern, calm and exciting, cultural and historic. The Old Town can be explored on foot in a day, as it is relatively small. Beyond the Old Town you’ll find the Freedom Monument, shops and restaurants that deserve as much attention as the Old Town. While in Riga, take pleasure in the colorful town squares, the charming Old Town, and the extended social atmosphere in which so many Latvians live.
CTW Must See
Town Hall Square
Riga’s beautiful Town Hall Square was destroyed during World War II and has since been completely rebuilt in 1999. This beautiful building was originally a guild for German merchants in the early 14th century. Opposite the House of Blackheads resides Riga’s City Council. The Statue of Roland, showcasing justice, sits in the center of the square. It is a replica of the original that was made in 1897.
St. Peter’s Church - Bremen Musicians
From the Town Hall Square, you will see the large steeple of St. Peter’s Church. The tallest church in Riga, at 123 meters, it has been rebuilt three times since it was originally constructed in the 13th century. In 1666, the tower collapsed and was built again as a Baroque-style cathedral. At that point, it was the tallest wooden structure in the world. Unfortunately in 1721, lightning struck the tower, causing its second demolition. The third demolition was during WWII. St. Peter’s Church was restored in 1967. Around the back of the church you will find Bremen Town Musicians, a comical sculpture that was erected post Latvian independence.
This is one of the largest squares in Riga and is populated by tall vibrant buildings and many bars and restaurants In the spring and summer, the square is full of markets and beer gardens. In the winter, the square has an ice rink! Within the square, you will find popular buildings such as the Small Guild, the Cat House, and the Riga Russian Theatre.
Dome Square is the largest square in Riga’s Old Town. Many celebrations, festivals and markets take place in this square, as it is large enough to accommodate crowds. In the summer, it is full of live music and open-air bars, which create a very relaxed and enjoyable environment. The main feature is the cathedral, said to be the largest medieval church in the Baltic region.
Bastion Hill & Riga Canal
Just outside the Old Town from Livu Square, you will find Bastion Hill and the Riga Canal. Bastion Hill is a charming park, with much calming scenery. The walk up the hill offers some views of the surrounding area, and the Riga Canal is a pleasant place to enjoy fresh air and to observe the local ducks having a swim. On the canal, boat tours are available during the summer months. Bastion Hill also features the delightful ‘Bridge of Love’, where lovers clip padlocks onto the bridge.
You will not miss Freedom Monument if you are in Bastion Hill. It honors the soldiers who died during the Latvian War for Independence. The monument is protected by two Guards of Honor who rotate every hour. Part of the significance of this monument is that it withstood the Soviet era, regardless of plans for demolition.
The Nativity Cathedral is an Orthodox Christian Church that first opened in 1884. The church survived both World wars, however it was closed in the 60s, when the Soviets took it over. They destroyed the crucifixes and turned the cathedral into a planetarium. Once Latvia won its independence back from the Soviet Union, it was restored to an Orthodox Christian Church.
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