Riga is the largest city and capital of Latvia. Latvia has been part of the Russian Empire, gained full independence in 1991 and is one of the Baltic countries along with Estonia and Lithuania. Riga a modern and beautiful metropolis, was awarded, in 2014, with the title of European Capital of Culture.
There are many sights to admire in Riga. One of the places that impressed me the most is the Art Nouveau neighborhood. A lovely area with some of the most fine architecture I have ever seen. The Art Nouveau district, as familiarly called, leaves you speechless. You simply can not take your eyes off the intimidating buildings. Art Nouveau is one of the sights that the capital of Latvia is famous for, as it covers roughly one-third of the buildings in the centre of the city.
When travelling to a new destination, I always enjoy getting the sense of the city from the highest point of view.
Saint Peter’s Church offers a breathtaking view of Riga from 72 metres. Hold hands and marvel the breathtaking view! Saint Peter’s Church is included in Unesco’s World Heritage Site list since 1997. I would say that visiting Riga in February may be cold but worth travelling. The city gets covered in snow and the scenery is just amazing. The view from the top was breathtaking. I reached the elevator, operated by a bohemian and friendly guy. Not many talks but a lovely glimpse in his smile. I took the lift and reached the top. There weren’t many tourists in sight, we were just 2 on the top 😁 😬. Possibly the staff didn’t expect a busy schedule on such a cold day. The cashiers were friendly and informative (9€).
The church has a beautiful architecture and offers an amazing 360° view of the city. I didn’t manage to stay more than 10 minutes in the top, as it was super windy and cold. After having admired the view, had afterwards a look at the ground floor. I was lucky enough to view the Gunārs Binde exhibition, a masterpiece of art, a black and white awesome exhibition that captured my heart. Gunārs Binde is a famous Latvian photographer, the first photographer of the postwar era, who became famous for his nude photography. As Binde says, ” I don’t pursue sensationalism, striking events or characters, nature photography, documentarism or portraiture. I am looking for a resonance between the visible world and my soul. If I perceive such a harmony, I take a picture”.
The Nativity of Christ Cathedral is the largest Orthodox Church in Riga. A beautiful church with impressive decorations and stunning architecture; entry is free.
As I was wondering for a long time, I decided to grab a coffee. There are plenty of options for coffee shops and great places to eat in Riga.
Bake Berry is a modern coffee shop, a lovely cafe with high-quality beverages and a large variety of desserts that exceeded my expectations. I ordered a cappuccino and a delicious chocolate cake (9 € ). Great selection of cakes, not to mention friendly service !!
One of Riga most popular landmarks to view, with an important historical value for the state, is the Freedom Monument. Freedom Monument is a memorial, honouring soldiers killed during the Latvian war of independence. At the top of the monument’s obelisk is the nine-meter symbol of freedom, a young woman holding three golden stars above her head, symbolising the three historic provinces of Latvia and national unity. The changing of the guards is taking place in Freedom monument. Guards switch sides every 30 minutes and change on the hour.
The House of Blackheads, a building of outstanding architecture, is one of Riga’s major landmarks. An impressive coloured building with long history and outstanding architecture, that has been temporary residence and office for Latvian President. One of Riga greatest buildings and symbol of the country’s history.
Riga’s Opera is the national opera of Latvia. Latvian National Opera includes the Latvian National Ballet, Latvian National Opera Chorus, and Latvian National Opera Orchestra. I booked ahead tickets for 10 euros. The opera was performed in Latvian, however subtitles were provided in English. A lovely experience and a chance to enjoy a famous opera in Baltic countries.
The war museum is one of the oldest museums in Riga, emphasizes in military and political history of Latvia in the 20th century. The museum is open daily 10.00 – 18.00 from April to October and 10.00 – 17.00 from November to March. Free entry.
When visiting Riga, a must is eating in one of Lido branches. Great value, quality, high product variety, good service at a fair price. I had some chicken with rice and selection of salads, cabbage meat soup, and fresh orange juice (10€ ).
Experiencing the traditional Latvian sauna, known as pirts in Latvian, is highly recommended. Visited Baltā pirts, a popular and authentic wood-fired sauna, providing as well steam rooms and swimming pool, and located near the city centre, approximately 20 min by bus. Baltā pirts is a traditional sauna, not a luxurius style one. The ritual in Latvian Sauna includes being naked. Men and women’s saunas and facilities are separated. It is very important to start with a 2 min warm shower and join the sauna. After successive transitions in the sauna and ice-cold water, the ritual includes beating your self with bunches of plants, then jumping into ice-cold water and so on. Slippers and towels are of extra charge but you can always bring your own (price 15€).
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