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The ancient port city of Riga is a cozy and elegant Latvian capital that has carefully preserved the rich heritage of Northern Europe. Coming here, numerous guests of the city are not looking for something to see in Riga – sights here are found literally at every step, and each of them has its own unique story. The city surprisingly coexists antiquity and modernity, restaurant gloss and the medieval spirit of the historical center, where the most famous sights of Riga are located. Visit cozy taverns, admire the elegant architecture of Riga cathedrals, feel the imperishability of history in medieval castles, and finally taste Riga sprats – all this and much more can be done when you are in glorious Riga.
What to see in Riga in the first place
From the number of interesting places in Riga, eyes literally run wide, and sometimes choosing what to see in Riga in 1 day or another limited period becomes a very difficult task. Therefore, the rating of sights worth including on your first trip is presented to the attention of future guests of Riga.
1. Old Town
Unusual medieval houses in the Old Town of Riga Stryn
Nowhere in Riga can you feel the atmosphere of the Middle Ages so clearly as in its historical quarter – the Old Town. In each of its ancient buildings, architecture, traditional for Northern Europe, can be traced. All the charm of the Old Town can be felt by visiting at least some of its sights, be it a cathedral, a castle or a monument, walking along its narrow and intricate cobbled streets and relaxing in one of the coziest cafes.
2. Riga Castle
Riga Castle – the residence of the President of Latvia on the banks of the Daugava in Riga
Turning to a detailed overview of the historical monuments of the Old Town, it is worth starting with the most significant cultural site – the Riga Castle. The medieval fortress, located on the very bank of the Daugava, had its own difficult fate. Initially, it belonged to the Livonian Order, later it was defeated by the troops of Ivan the Terrible and fell into disrepair. Subsequently, there was a residence of rulers from Sweden, Poland and even Russia, and everyone remade the building according to their needs. Today, the castle is the residence of the Latvian President, and museum exhibitions are held in some of its halls.
Official website: https://www.president.lv
3. City Hall
Accurate copy of the historic 13th century Town Hall in Riga Philaweb
Historically, the first town hall building was erected in the 13th century immediately after the city acquired the rights to an independent policy. Since then, it has been repeatedly changed and completed, and as a result of the military events of 1941, it almost completely turned into ruins, only some fragments of the facade survived. Restoration work started only in the 90s of the 20th century, and since 2003 we can see the new town hall building, which is essentially a restored copy of the old one, today the Riga City Council is located there.
4. House of the Blackheads
Facade of the house of the Blackheads on the Town Hall Square in Riga giggel
Directly opposite the City Hall is another interesting place, one of the most beautiful buildings in Riga. This is the House of the Blackheads of the 14th century, and the unusual name was assigned to it when the trade guild began to rent the house. Since traveling to buy goods in other countries was an unsafe occupation, the most risky people were in the guild, and a black-skinned saint – Mauritius – was chosen as their symbolic “patron”, hence the name – the Blackheads Guild. The modern building is a remake, erected already in the 90s of the last century in the style characteristic of the cities of Northern Europe.
Official website: http://www.melngalvjunams
5. House with black cats
House with black cats in the Old Town of Riga Horvat
An unusual house with two figures of cats crowning a gabled roof was built at the beginning of the last century and belonged to a merchant who was very eager to join the Great Guild. But since he was not accepted, the cunning merchant decided in revenge to hoist metal cats on the roof of his house and turn their backs to the building where the Great Guild was located. After a while, the sly one was accepted into the guild, and he turned one of the cats around. Since then, two cats on the roof have looked in different directions, and the house of the Black Cats has become a famous landmark.
Check out the beautiful places of Riga in this wonderful video!
6. Mentzendorf House
Menzendorf's House – a museum of the residential building of a wealthy Riga merchant from the early 18th century Evita wiki
Further, a journey through the city leads to Menzendorf's house. Slightly rickety from time to time, with different windows, and therefore a particularly unusual building of the 17th century is located in the historical district of Riga. Once it was an ordinary house, on the ground floor of which there was a shop and a pharmacy. There is a legend that it was here that the well-known Riga balm was first made, which was originally used as an anesthetic. Today, the building houses a museum displaying items from everyday life of Rigans.
Official website: http://www.mencendorfanams
7. A complex of buildings Three Brothers
8. Albert Street
Art Nouveau buildings on Alberta Street in Riga Zairon
One of the streets of Riga is tacitly recognized as an open-air museum – all its buildings, most of which were erected at the beginning of the last century in just two years, are an ideal example of the embodiment of Art Nouveau. This street was formed and built up in honor of the 700th anniversary of the founding of Riga, and it got its name from the city's founder, Bishop Albert. All buildings of the street are decorated in the same style – German Art Nouveau, called “Jugendstil”. This is a very artsy style with a lot of intricate decorative elements located on the facades.
9. Swedish gates
The Swedish Gate is the only gate in Riga that has survived unchanged to this day
Conducting a tour, guides in Riga do not disregard the only fortress gates that have survived in the city to this day. By the way, initially there were 8 such gates, but only one – Swedish – has survived, and almost in its original form. It is believed that it was through this gate that the Latvian allies – the Swedes – left the city, having accomplished a brave feat of protecting the Riga fortress from Russian troops. Peter the Great, appreciating the courage of the besieged, allowed them to gather the remnants of his garrison and leave the city.
10. Powder Tower
The Powder Tower is part of the old city fortifications of Riga J. Sedols
During the Russian Empire, the entire system of fortifications in Riga was demolished. But still, it was decided to leave a separate element in tribute to memory. This is the Powder Tower – a structure that for many years reliably protected the city from enemy attacks. Back in the 17th century, several cannon shells were stuck in its walls, which remained there. Since the beginning of the last century, a military museum has been operating inside the tower, where military equipment, weapons collections and various things of Latvian soldiers are exhibited.
Official website: http://www.karamuzejs
11. Latvian National Opera
Latvian National Opera is a magnificent architectural monument of the 19th century in Riga
When choosing where to go in Riga, it is recommended to visit the Latvian National Opera. I must say that the art of opera in the country had deep roots – back in the 18th century there was a theater where the works of German classics sounded, and Wagner himself, a famous musician of that time, was the conductor of the orchestra. Only in the last century, the Opera was opened within these walls, which became the center of art in Riga. The Opera's repertoire includes world famous opera and ballet works, music by Latvian composers, children's productions.
Official website: https://www.opera
12 The building of the Latvian Academy of Arts
The building of the Latvian Academy of Arts in the historical center of the Latvian capital Paul Bischoff
The higher education institution, built at the beginning of the last century, is one of the most beautiful sights in Riga. The facade of this architectural monument is decorated in the neo-Gothic style, with an abundance of carved, “openwork” decor elements. Initially, the building had a much more mundane purpose – it housed the stock exchange school. Later, during the years of World War I, an infirmary for the wounded was organized within these walls, after which one of the commercial schools was organized. And only in 1940, the first rector of the Latvian Art Academy decided to “relocate” the art university to this picturesque building, where it is located to this day.
Official website: http ://www.lma.
13. Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation
Interior view of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation Philaweb
One of the most significant museums in Riga is the oldest not only in Latvia, but throughout Europe. It was founded at the end of the 18th century and is located in the premises belonging to the architectural complex of the Dome Cathedral. The large-scale exposition of the museum, assembled by many historical and archaeological communities, occupies as many as 16 halls and conveys the entire 8-century history of the development of Riga, sets out the history of navigation from the 10th century to our time. The total number of museum exhibits is already more than half a million, all of them are combined in a group in chronological and thematic order.
Official website: http://www.rigamuz
14. Art Museum
Evening view of the Latvian National Museum of Art on the boulevard ring of Riga
Excursions in Riga, organized to get acquainted with the national art of Latvia, necessarily include a visit to the Art Museum of Latvia – it is here that the country's largest collection of national art works is located. The exposition of the museum, which includes about 50 thousand works, reflects the history of the development of world and national painting: there are paintings by Latvian artists, and collections of foreign masters from Europe and Russia.
Official website: http ://www.lnmm
15. St. Peter's Church
St. Peter's Church with a high bell tower in Riga giggel
One of the important symbols of Riga is the medieval church named after St. Peter, whose high bell tower is overlooked from many points of the city. This is the oldest shrine in Riga, the first mention of which dates back to the beginning of the 13th century. During the events of the Second World War, the cathedral was significantly damaged, and the restoration work carried out after that was completed only in the 80s of the last century. In height, this building, including a slender spire topped with a golden cockerel, reaches 123 meters. In addition to the spire, the tower is decorated with an old clock that plays the national Latvian melody several times a day.
16. Dome Cathedral
13th century Dome Cathedral in the center of Riga (WT-en) StuartEdwards
The following recommendations will touch on one of the most recognizable architectural creations in Riga. This is the Dome Cathedral, the center of the spiritual life of the city and the whole country. In addition to religious services, classical music concerts are regularly held here. And the history of the cathedral began as much as eight centuries ago and marked the successful conquest of Livonia. During these centuries, the cathedral was subjected to repeated changes, restorations, and it acquired its modern look only towards the end of the 18th century. The building, decorated in a mixture of medieval Romanesque and Northern European Gothic, impresses with its size. A special attraction of the temple is a huge 25-meter musical organ, installed here at the end of the 19th century.
Official website: http://www.doms
17. Nativity Cathedral
Aerial view of the Cathedral of the Nativity in Riga
The majestic symbol of Orthodoxy in Latvia is the Nativity Cathedral, the main cathedral of the Orthodox Church in the country. Despite the fact that this is a landmark of Latvia, it was founded with funds allocated by the Russian emperor, who, in addition to this, also donated several bells for the belfry to the temple. In the middle of the last century, during the Soviet era of atheism, the interior decoration was barbarously destroyed, a cafe, a planetarium and various other institutions worked here. And only in the early 90s did the active restoration of the cathedral begin, during which it was brought to the form it has now.
Official website: http://sobor.lv /
18. St. James Cathedral
St. James Cathedral is the smallest of the four churches of old Riga
In turn, the symbol of Catholicism is the Cathedral of St. James, famous for its 80-meter tower, directed upwards and crowned with a figure of a gilded cockerel. This tower is the only tower in Riga that has not changed its Gothic appearance since its inception, and I must say that it was built back in the 13th century. If outside the architecture of the cathedral is designed in a single style, then the interior decoration is a mixture of several styles – the room is bright and spacious, crowned with many high arches. The unusual design of some elements with fresh flowers and even real flower beds makes a special impression.
19. Laima Clock
Laima street clock in the center of Riga Agiad
The most famous clock in Riga is located in the very heart of Riga – this is the original clock in the form of a turret, which was installed here at the beginning of the last century. Since in those days wristwatches were still an unaffordable luxury for many, large street clocks were needed so that workers could know the time and not be late for work. The launch of the first tram in the city also led to the same need, in connection with which public transport stops needed to be improved. Since then, an elegant pillar clock has been decorating one of the central streets of Riga, and every hour it plays one of 24 popular classical melodies.
20. The Bremen Town Musicians monument
Monument to the Bremen Town Musicians in the Old Town of Riga
One of the modern attractions of the Latvian capital, which is familiar to almost every tourist, literally left the pages of the famous German fairy tale “The Bremen Town Musicians”. The monument to the Bremen Town Musicians in the Old Town embodies that fabulous episode when the animals, sitting on each other's backs, look at the robbers through the window and start screaming loudly. There is even a belief among the inhabitants that if you rub the nose of one of the animals of the sculpture and make a wish, it will surely come true.
21. Retro Car Museum
Concept diesel car ARVW at the Marathona Vintage Car Museum
Against the background of the museums of national art, culture, and history familiar to everyone, the museum of old vehicles in Riga stands out brightly. This is one of the largest museums in the entire former USSR. Its facade attracts attention from afar – it is designed in the form of a radiator grill of an old model of a Rolls-Royce car. Sometime at the beginning of the 20th century, Riga was known as the cradle of the automotive industry, as well as a city of lovers of vintage cars. Today, the museum's exposition is a collection of vintage cars and motorcycles from the beginning of the last century, including limousines of the 30s, sports cars and truly unique trophy models.
Official website: http ://www.motormuzejs
22. Riga Porcelain Museum
Exhibits of the Riga Porcelain Museum Sinikka Halme
Sometime in the middle of the 19th century, the famous Kuznetsov Porcelain Factory opened in the Latvian capital – from that time a collection of porcelain products was formed and began to grow, which many years later entered the exposition of the Riga Porcelain Museum. Today, the exposition already includes about 6 thousand items, among which are truly original exhibits – for example, a huge vase as high as a man, or statuettes of famous leaders – Stalin and Lenin. In addition, in the museum you can also take a master class and see the process of making porcelain products.
Official website: http://porcelanamuzejs
23. World of Money exposition
Bank of Latvia building in Riga, where Mettmann World of Money visitor center is located
At the Latvian National Bank in Riga there is a visitor center “The World of Money” – this is an exposition entirely dedicated to money, its history, turnover, and financial policy of the state. The museum collection is of particular interest to those who wish to learn to understand the financial topic. In total, the museum presents several stands, multimedia presentations in a modern format, films and even computer games.
Official website: https://www.naudasskola.
24. Riga Central Market
Riga Central Market in former German Zeppelin hangars Jorge Láscar
Another idea of what to visit in Riga will touch on the sphere of trade. The Riga Central Market can be attributed to the significant sights of the city. Only the size of the market deserves attention – its area is about 70 thousand square meters, and the total length of the tunnel that unites all departments of the market is 337 meters. Here you can buy the freshest products, especially seafood – they are delivered here by water transport immediately from the place of extraction. And here you can also get Riga souvenirs – they are presented on the market in huge quantities, at prices almost half as low as in other parts of the city.
Official website: https://www .rct.lv/en/
25. Freedom Monument
The Freedom Monument was erected in honor of the independence of Latvia in 1935 in Riga
In the city center, on Svoboda Street, there is a monument of the same name, which has become a symbol of the country's independence. At the top of a high 42-meter stele, there is a 9-meter sculpture depicting a woman with three stars in her hands, symbolizing the three historical regions of the country. It can be said that the history of the country is captured in the design of the monument – various bas-reliefs carved on several tiers of steles convey important historical plots of the country and the high moral values of its people.
Official website: http: //www.latvia.travel
Riga attractions: what else to visit in Riga?
Despite the fact that the main attractions of Riga briefly represent a rather extensive list, in fact, this is only a small part of the treasures that the Latvian capital is fraught with. Other interesting sights of Riga Photo with names and descriptions is a kind of “reserve” for sophisticated guests who continue their acquaintance with the city.
26. Riga Zoo
Giraffes in Riga zoo Dmitrij M
In a picturesque area of Riga, not far from Lake Kisezers, there is a large and oldest zoo in the Baltics. He began his work in 1908, when the Riga Zoo Society was founded. And 4 years later, the zoo opened its doors to visitors, presenting to the attention of 267 individuals of different animals. Throughout its history, the zoo experienced not the best times – the events of the First and Second World Wars, and later the collapse of the USSR, caused significant damage. But nowadays the territory of the park is expanding, the number of inhabitants is growing, and visitors are offered excursions of various directions lasting from an hour and a half.
Official website: http://www.rigazoo
27. Arcadia Park
The picturesque and popular landscape park of Arcadia Evita wiki
One of the most beautiful parks in Riga is the oldest landscape complex “Arcadia”, located on the left bank of the Daugava. Two centuries ago, there was a private garden here, which was later bought by the city authorities, expanded and planted with exotic plants. Over time, the garden began to turn into a cozy green area, and even later – into a real entertainment complex. According to the state improvement program, a system of waterfalls was equipped, and the Marupite River with a changed course began to flow through the park. Today, Arcadia is one of the most popular places for recreation, walks and dates.
Official website: http://www.citariga.
28. Vermansky park
Vermanes Park is one of the favorite places for walking and spending time among Rigans M.Strīķis
Another old park worthy of the top of the best sights in Riga is Vermanes Park. This complex bears the name of the philanthropist Anna Verman, who opened a recreation area here in the 19th century for residents of the city. Before her death in 1829, she bequeathed the park to the city authorities on the condition that the site would never be privately owned, closed, or reorganized. Surprisingly, all these years this condition is sacredly observed to this day. Now it is a well-groomed recreation area with a system of water channels, fountains, decorated with sculptures and various landscape compositions.
Official website: http://www.citariga
29. Riga TV Tower
An amazing view of the Riga Radio and Television Tower against the backdrop of the city landscape
On the island of Zakusala, located on the Daugava River, there is a modern landmark of the city – a TV tower with a height of about 370 meters, one of the highest in all of Europe. At a height of about a hundred meters, which can be reached by a high-speed elevator in a matter of seconds, there is an observation deck equipped – this is the highest place in Riga where you can climb to view the city panoramas. The tower first began broadcasting in 1986, but construction work continued for another 3 years. The technical capabilities of the TV tower are constantly being improved, opening up new possibilities for broadcasting.
30. Cable-stayed bridge across the Daugava
Cable-stayed bridge – an elegant engineering structure across the Daugava Laurijs Svirskis
One of the most interesting bridges across the Riga Daugava River is a cable-stayed bridge, originating from the Riga Castle and passing through the island of Kipsala. The design of such a bridge is very unusual: the only supporting pylon, which acts as a bridge support, is connected to the roadway through a system of steel cables – guys. Due to its unusual design, this bridge is also recognized as one of the most beautiful in Riga – outwardly it resembles a stringed musical instrument. The total length of the bridge is more than 0.5 km, and its width is as much as 30 meters.
Having visited Riga once, everyone will wish to return to its cozy streets, in which the spirit of centuries still lurks. And even if you are a regular guest of Riga, this exquisite sedate city will always remain an unread book for you, the pages of which you will want to return to again. Moreover, the tourist infrastructure of Riga provides all the opportunities for an unforgettable acquaintance with the city, and the hotels of Riga provide luxurious conditions for accommodation and recreation.