Should you visit Riga, the largest city of the Baltic states? (Yes, you should!)
The Latvian capital, Riga, is a unique blend of cultures and influences. This is a city that never fails to leave its visitors in awe. Everything about it is majestic, yet subtle. Modern, yet ancient. If you’re not sure whether or not you should visit this Baltic jewel, then just keep reading. As I will show you the most interesting things to watch out for in Riga, which will certainly help you make up your mind.
Art Nouveau architecture
The city of Riga is best known for it’s art nouveau architecture, which covers a third of the city. The highlight of the city is the Albert Street where you will find rows of monumental buildings which are extensively decorated with rich details. Most of the Art Nouveau buildings in Riga have been built over a span of a decade – between 1904 and 1914. As the Latvian capital was an important administrative center of the Russian empire at the time the city flourished and expanded. Elaborate multi-storey apartment buildings in Art Nouveau design scattered all over the city are a breath of fresh air for every tourist looking for something extraordinary. Unique shapes, geometric ornaments, colored tiles and bricks – this city is the best representation of the Art Nouveau expression in the world.
Founded in 1330 and looking over the Daugava river, the Riga castle is one of the city’s best known buildings. It has served as a power center for centuries and, even nowadays, the castle is the official residence of the Latvian president. What’s so unique about the castle, apart from its glorious beauty, is the stunning combination of architectural styles. Since the building itself has been rebuilt quite a few times, it has become a true architectural wonder, a beautiful mess of styles and expressions.
Riga Central Market
The Riga Central market is the largest and most famous marketplace on the continent. Included in the UNESCO World Heritage list the Central Market is the epicenter of the city. Close to 100 000 people shop here every day, tasting and purchasing exotic fruits and spices, traditional Latvian dishes and gastronomy products. Ever since the year 1930, this colorful melting pot of all sorts of foods has been feeding the Latvian capital and at the same time injecting life and color into the city’s everyday life.
House of the Blackheads
While the Latvian capital may be rich with stunning architecture, the House of the Blackheads is one of its most impressive architectural and aesthetic wonders. One of those buildings you often see in commercials, TV jingles, travelogues, photographs and postcards, the House of the Blackheads is a stunning, shining phenomenon. Take a tour and visit the lavish concert hall, after you admire the grandiose facade rich with detail, attend festive events, admire the art and the historical exhibits. If you truly want to feel what this city and this country is all about, the House of the Blackheads is a must visit.
The Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral is one of the most famous sights in Riga. Built in 1211 this is the largest medieval church in Latvia and in the Baltic states. Over the years the building has undergone countless modifications, which have turned the cathedral into the world’s only real combination of Baroque, Art Nouveau, Romanesque and Gothic style architecture. Whether you want to admire the majestic interior or take a walk around the building, exploring and soaking in the breathtaking com combination of architectural styles, the famous Riga Cathedral will leave you in absolute awe.