Situated at the mouth of the River Daugava is Latvia’s capital Riga, a cultural, industrial and financial centre and a major seaport of the country. It is the largest city in Latvia with a fascinatingly beautiful historical centre comprising of the most marvelous Jugendstil Architecture (German), which according to UNESCO is unrivalled in the world. The site is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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During the Middle Ages, Riga developed as a prominent Vikings trade centre. When it joined the Hanseatic League in 1282, Riga began to grow as an economically and politically influential city. After having gone through a series of historical events that pushed Riga under the power of Polish, Swedish, German and Russian rules, it became free when Latvia finally became an independent country in 1991.
Riga offers several tourist attractions, which include the renowned 13th century Lutheran Cathedral with its splendid 1884 organ, the Riga Castle that houses the president’s official residence, the Museum of Latvian History along with the Museum of Foreign Art. The ‘three Brothers’ are buildings that depict the architecture of the medieval and Baroque styles.
The other places of interest are St Peter’s Church with its 123m high tower and the tiny 13th century St John’s Church behind it, the only remains of the Old City Walls and the Swedish Gate, the Powder Tower and St James’ Roman Catholic Cathedral. The 14th century large and small Guild Halls of which the Large Guild Hall plays host to the Philharmonic Orchestra, the 1344 House of Blackheads and the 1935 Freedom Monument are also notable structures that are worth visiting.
The oldest public park, the Vērmanes Garden, the Riga Zoo, the Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum along the Jugla Lake and the Riga Motor Museum are also places that can be visited. As a cultural centre, Riga has several theatres that include the Latvian National Opera, Latvian National Theatre, Riga Russian Theatre, Daile Theatre, Latvian State Puppet Theatre and the New Riga Theatre.
The 800 year old city with an artistic blend of modern infrastructure infused with the striking architecture of the medieval period, Riga has every reason to be the most beautiful city and a tourist’s delight. Strategically located in the Baltic, Riga is easily accessible from other counties of Europe both by air, land and by ferry.