The Best Travel Guide to Riga by BestTravelBook

Riga’s old town is very well preserved and has a large number of architectural influences including Gothic, Baroque, Modernism and Art Nouveau. Often called the “Little Paris of the North” for its romantic cobbled streets and grand buildings, the Latvian capital has charm in the bucket loads.

The Best Travel Guide to Riga is segmented into 4 key travel themes to immerse you into everything Riga:

  1. An introduction and brief history to this wonderful town;
  2. A comprehensive lowdown of What to See;
  3. Some Top Tips / Good to Know;
  4. An insider guide

Hope you enjoy it!  Carpe Diem!

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1. An introduction and brief history to this wonderful town

Riga boasts Europe’s biggest food market, its oldest zoo and its finest collection and highest concentration of art nouveau buildings.

St. Peter's Church, Riga
St. Peter’s Church, Riga

Riga historic centre was designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and  has a beautiful Old Town with cobblestone streets, colourful squares and Medieval buildings.

Riga has a treasure-trove of Art Noveau building, boasting the world’s largest collection of Art Nouveau architecture, easy to identify for its curved doorways and windows, abundant floral reliefs, female sculptures, whimsical gargoyles or Romantic nationalist imagery.  It has more than 800 Art Noveau buildings, a third of the city’s stock, dating from the prime years of the movement at the start of the 20th century.

House of Blackheads, Riga Old Town

House of Blackheads, Riga Old Town

2. A comprehensive lowdown of What to See

 

What to See in Riga, Latvia
What to See in Riga, Latvia

House of Blackheads

House of Blackheads, Riga Old Town
House of Blackheads, Riga Old Town

BestTravelBook Top Pick:

  • One of Riga’s oldest and most renowned buildings, the House of Blackheads was erected in 1344, but was embellished and expanded in the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries
  • The Gothic building with a Dutch Renaissance façade, is one most photographed buildings in Riga
  • The building was flattened during the second world war; however, an exact replica of this beautiful building was completed in 2001 for Rīga’s 800th birthday

 

St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter's Church, Riga
St. Peter’s Church, Riga

BestTravelBook Top Pick:

  • Riga’s magnificent Gothic church dominates the old town
  • St. Peter’s was built in 1209, and still standing from the 13th century are the side outer walls and several pillars inside
  • Take the lift to the viewing platform 72m up the copper-clad steeple for fantastic views across Riga’s Old Town and beyond

 

The Three Brothers

The Three Brothers, Riga Old Town
The Three Brothers, Riga Old Town

BestTravelBook Top Pick:

  • The “Three Brothers” (Tris Brali), or Maza Pils numbers 17, 19, and 21, are the oldest stone houses still standing in Riga, and an excellent example of medieval architecture,
  • These three adjacent houses recall the Hanseatic history of the city when Riga’s merchants prospered. The narrowest of them, number 21, is also the youngest, dating from the 18th century
  • The next was built in 1646 and is embellished by a Baroque doorway added a century later. The most impressive is also the oldest; slightly set back from the street, it dates from the 15th century
  • Its lopsided façade is topped by a stepped gable, and its doorway is flanked by ancient stone seats

 

The Powder Tower

The Powder Tower, Riga Old Town
The Powder Tower, Riga Old Town

BestTravelBook Top Pick:

  • The Powder Tower is a huge bastion that was and originally a part of the defensive system of the town.
  • The Powder Tower now houses the excellent Latvian War Museum
What to See in Riga, Latvia
What to See in Riga, Latvia

 

Riga Castle:

Riga Castle
Riga Castle

BestTravelBook Top Pick:

  • Riga Castle is a castle on the banks of River Daugava in Riga, the capital of Latvia. It is one of the largest medieval castles in Latvia with a long and exciting history
  • The castle was founded in early 14th century
  • The distinctive yellow castle was destroyed and rebuilt over time, and today it serves as the offices and home of the Latvian president, as well as the Latvian Museum of Foreign Art and the Rainis Museum of Literature and Art History

 

Riga Cathedral

Riga Cathedral
Riga Cathedral

BestTravelBook Top Pick:

  • Riga Cathedral was founded in 1211 as the seat of the Riga diocese, this enormous cathedral is the largest medieval church in the Baltics
  • Riga Cathedral is a home for one of the biggest organs in Europe with 6,768 pipes

 

Riga Central Market

Riga Food Market
Riga Food Market

BestTravelBook Top Pick:

  • The largest indoor market in Europe, the market is built in a beautiful Neoclassical and Art Deco style and spans an area of 778,000 square feet and houses 3,000 trade stands
  • The market has five pavilions constructed by reusing old German Zeppelin hangars and incorporating Neoclassicism and Art Deco styles

 

Art Deco architecture

Art Nouveau Architecture Riga
Art Nouveau Architecture Riga

BestTravelBook Top Pick:

  • Art Nouveau architecture represents approximately one third of all the buildings in the centre of Riga, making Latvia’s capital the city with the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture anywhere in the world
  • Konstantīns Pēkšēns (1859 – 1928) designed no less than 250 buildings including the iconic edifice at Alberta 12, which the architect once called home and that now houses the Riga Art Nouveau Museum

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