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Riga, the capital of Latvia, is not only the crown jewel of Latvia, but also of the Baltics. Riga’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Riga has more than 600 000 inhabitants, making it the largest city in the Baltic States.
Riga is also known as an architectural jewel – a city where you can see churches from the city’s origins, medieval buildings in the Old Town, unique examples of Art Nouveau, as well as wooden architecture that has survived the centuries and modern architectural jewels.
Riga has a vibrant cultural life. The Latvian National Opera and Ballet brings together world-class artists. The most prominent cultural offers include the magnificent Opera House, diverse music halls and independent cinemas. If you are a culture lover, then visit a theatre play, opera or ballet!
Riga has a beautiful and varied architecture. From Romanesque to Gothic and Baroque,The Old Town has a remarkable number of architectural monuments. A walk through the streets of the Old Town will be an exciting experience for anyone visiting Riga.
For almost a hundred years, the Freedom Monument has stood in the very center of Riga – a work of art embraced in granite and copper that symbolizes the Latvian people’s desire for independence and freedom. The Freedom Monument is 42,7 meters high.
Riga St. Peter’s Church – the city’s landmark and the highest spire, one of the oldest and most valuable buildings of medieval monumental architecture in the Baltic States. St. Peter’s Church is the highest church in Riga and a significant Gothic-style 13th-century architectural monument of national importance.
Opposite the Old Town, on the left bank of the Daugava River rises the National Library of Latvia – the Castle of Light – one of the most ambitious cultural buildings in Latvia, where you can enjoy a modern twist!
Pop-up art galleries that have revitalized a number of Soviet-era industrial buildings, many small, independent galleries that have set up shop in the city streets – contemporary art has found a place for itself in Riga. The Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (RIBOCA) is a glorious example. If there is only time for one art stop, let it be the National Museum of Art, where its building is a true architectural masterpiece in its own right.
You can spend hours gazing at the splendor of Riga’s Art Nouveau facades – about a third of the buildings in the city center are Art Nouveau jewels. Be sure to take a walk down Alberta Street if you want to witness Art Nouveau in all its glory!
Another of Riga’s architectural highlights is its wooden buildings, which are a rarity in Europe today. Charming wooden houses populate the streets of the left bank of the Daugava river (e.g. in Kalnciema Quarter), as well as other areas of the city such as Grīziņķalns or Maskavas Forštate.
In the city center, on the banks of the Daugava River, you can taste a half-sour pickle, buy fresh vegetables, treat yourself to a smoked eel or take a fascinating walk through the Riga Central Market.
Riga’s menu features a mix of local and international flavors, with a strong emphasis on seasonal and local produce. Riga’s restaurants and cafés offer both traditional Latvian dishes and dishes created by local chefs with a surprising combination of flavors. It will be an exciting gastronomic journey!