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Riga The Baltic Pearl

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I heard about the city’s 800 year-old history, can’t wait to feel its charm – an amazing mix of working ( conferences I have to give) and discoveries ( tourism, art, gastronomy) . Follow my adventures and love at first sights 

The capital of Latvia, whose old town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is often overshadowed by neighboring Baltics cities , Tallinn or Vilnius. Yet Riga is beautiful …

City hall square

Riga is located at the mouth of the Daugava River, which crosses the city, to go 25 kilometers further into the Baltic sea. When you are about to land , when the plane begins its descent, the sight displayed to our eyes is astonishing kilometers of forests, with in horizon the blue of the Baltic Sea. Those are the colors that characterize Riga. Bright primary colors yellow, red, sky blue.

Once past the gates of Lidosta (name of Riga airport) those are the sounds that come to us… Linguistic with different phrasing, expressions, everything sings and enchants. Slavic soul, German character, Swedish dynamism and Baltic charm coexist and blend to create a most unique atmosphere.

To get to the center of Riga, bus 22 is the one you need, except if you prefer to take a taxi.

A quick breakie before heading out to the university for my conference

Vecriga (or Old Town) founded in 1201 by a German monk, unlike its neighbors in the region, is not so old. Its very Germanic style dates back to the  middle ages and the crusaders was almost spared by the bombings of the Second World War, and thus presents a mixture of amazing style that makes it all its charm.

 It consists mostly of large brick dwellings and high-rise warehouses, but there are also many prestigious Gothic buildings in the forefront of which the Cathedral (the Dom), the Saint John Church and House of Blackheads  

During the reign of the Romanovs and under the impetus of the German merchants who decided to play the middlemen between the city and the Tsar Empire, Riga knew a demographic expansion and flourished economically. 1869 marks the awakening of the national Letton spirit until the First World War. The collapse of Russia in 1917 saw the city become the scene of massacres between Bolsheviks and those who remain faithful to the Empire.

This troubled period, however, sees the emergence of the Independent Republic of Latvia in 1918 and an architecturally upset city that throughout the second half of the 20th century will try to make this Latvian soul alive and become a refuge for Russian intellectuals opposed to the Soviet regime. . After other political chaos, 1991 the independence of the country.

Today’s Riga is the sum of all these influences and upheavals.

On the way to some of the most important points of the city.

Latvian War Museum

The Latvian War museum is one of the oldest and largest museums in Latvia. It was founded in 1916 as the Latvian riflemen museum. Since 1919 the museum is located in the Powder Tower (14th century), one of the former fortification towers of Riga.

Ruins of the Great Choral Synagogue in Riga, Latvia

The synagogue was the largest in Riga until it was burned down on July 4, 1941 during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Latvia. 20 Jews were rounded up and locked inside the synagogue’s basement before it was set on fire. —

Jugendstil

Probably, this is the most famous staircase in Riga. I particularly like the architecture theme and taking photos of cities are my favorite engrossment, but something at Riga induce me to come back another time. And this something made me walk more than 50 km around the city. This is call Art Nouveau or Jugendstil. This still boggles my mind, when the whole streets in this city were built in the single style, so you can spend hours wandering the streets and looking at the amazing buildings.

The  Grand Palace Hotel

Built in 1877 as the Central Bank of Latvia, it was turned into a boutique 5-star superior hotel in the year 2000 ThIS magnificent Grand Palace Hotel is located in business, shopping and sightseeing district – Riga Old Town. A cozy place with discreet luxury where you feel good, very welcoming staff.

Train bridge in Riga in the night from kayaking.

The current Railway Bridge is an arch railroad bridge that was erected in 1914 in Riga, Latvia, shelled twice, during World War I in 1917 and World War II in 1944, and was rebuilt both times. The bridge is nowadays the only railway bridge in Riga.”
The first iron railway bridge in Riga, over 600 ftm long, was erected in 1871-1872 for Riga – Jelgava railroad. Since 2007 the bridge has started to be illuminated, which came with a price tag of around 320 000 EUR. A pretty large amount for Riga, however it does pay back with great views and those tourist shots.

Where to eat ?

Golden Coffee : Kungu iela 7/9 Riga, Latvia.

If you’re looking for vegan options, delicious soups and originality, you came to the right place.

Some of the best stew I’ve ever had. From Golden Coffee, Riga, Latvia.

  • Kalku Varti bistro : A good place to eat latvian and cheap in Riga’s historic center . Adress : Kaļķu iela 11 (Old town Riga)
  • Folk Club Ala : In a vaulted cellar of old Riga, Latvian music and rich and fatty cuisine sprinkled with local beers. Very popular so be sure to book if you want to get there on weekends. Adress : Peldu iela 19 (Old town Riga)
  • Lido : A self service. Cheap, good enough and ideal to choose Latvian dishes without being a culinary specialist of the country. Adress : Elizabetes iela 65 (Centrs)
  • Tavs Banh Mi : Typical Vietnamese cuisine, serving the famous and delicious sandwich baguette (banh mi), such as phos, bo-buns or other noodle dish. Adress : Ģertrūdes iela 9 ( Centrs)
  • Food box : One of Riga’s best kebahs place. Adress : Andreja Pumpura iela 3 ( Centrs)
  • Aragats :Armenian family restaurant in the “art nouveau district” of Riga. To be absolutely tested to taste and take your time. Adress : Jura Alunāna iela 2A (Quartier Centrs)

Sources

Yves Plasseraud ” Riga La Cohabitation”

Bildende Kunst in den Ostsee-Provinzen, Riga, Architektenverein zu Riga, 1912, 147 p.

Champonnois, Suzanne, Labriolle (de), François, La Lettonie, Paris, Karthala, 1999, 346 p.

Coll., Jugendstils, laiks un telpa (Art nouveau, temps et espace), Riga, Jumava, 1999, 295 p.

Coll. « L’art letton », Riga, Section de la Presse au ministère des Affaires étrangères, 1926, 68 p.

Coll., Latvija 19. gadsimta, Vestures apceres, Riga, Latvijas Universitates Latvijas vestures instituts, 2000, 575 p.

Dombrovskis, J., Latvju makslas vesture, Riga, Valters un Rapa, 1935, 93 p.

Dreifelds, Juris, Latvia in transition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996, 214 p.
DOI : 10.1017/CBO9780511628344

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