Riga is the crown jewel of the Baltic. Undoubtedly, it is the perfect rendezvous of the multiple cultures that have sought home in Riga over the centuries. The historic and cultural nexus has witnessed the birth of the Nouveau art and masonry since the ancient times. By virtue of its rich cultural heritage it is now home to the architectural pearls of Europe. Riga has seen the rise and fall of several empires and the conception of modernism.
The Culture capital of the Baltic
Riga offers a dynamic taste of its cultural life. It is the cultural epicentre of Europe in the real sense. 2014 is a very special year for the Latvian capital as the world’s best opera artists, musicians, dancers, painters gather to present the largest ever collection of cultural events 365 days a year. A completely new take on the culture of the city should be reason enough to bring Riga to prominence in the tourist maps of Europe.
Where centuries meet:
Riga was founded more than 800 years ago, in 1201 by Albert of Bremen. Since then it has borne the testimonies of several kings and kingdoms, battles, evolution of art and architecture, and of course war. Daugava River divides the city into two parts, the old town which was built mostly during the advent of the 19th century and the new town. The heritage sites include mostly parts of the Old Town.
- The Triangula Bastion, which is a part of the ancient fortification system made to safeguard Riga from the attack of war ships,
- The town square and its surroundings like the house of Blackheads, the Statue of Roland, Town Hall, St. Peter’s church.
- The house of the black cat, which was built next to the Big Guild. This building is noted for the two statues of black cats on its roof
- The Little Guild: a smaller house just beside the Big Guild that housed the craftsmen’s guild.
- The Wagner concert hall: Wagner occasionally used to perform in this Opera House.
- Freedom Monument: one of the most noted structures and one of Latvia’s national symbols that was erected during the first independence and has stood tall for centuries, even during soviet rule.
Gastronomy Capital of Europe:
The food is a major attraction in Riga. There are scores of local restaurants and local cafes to choose from and most of them surprise your platter with a fusion of new tastes you have never experienced before. The sea, the sun and the Latvian winds have forged the tastes found only in the Latvian cuisine which is gaining steady popularity. The Latvian cuisine has the potential to impress the master chefs from all around the world. Some of the all time favourite specialties are the wheatbucket, rye and barley and of course, the traditional delicacy. The Latvian eels. From exotic seafood to the humble but excellent pork and bread everything has its own taste in the country imparted by the geography of the place. All in all, the food in Riga has the full power to overwhelm even the most confident gastronomes.
The best place to shop:
Just like any other place, most of the souvenir shops are overrated. Visit the local markets and the little stands found throughout Riga for amber, wool mittens, even hot wine during Christmas. Nonetheless some of the few prominent shopping destinations in Riga are:
- Konventa seta: this one has a unique taste. Earlier it was a convent courtyard which has now been transformed to a square containing several small touristy shops.
- The central market: this striking building has an interesting history. It was constructed to serve as an airship hangar in the 1930s, but right now it has been transformed to a market.
The rich culture, the art and architecture have fused, making Riga the new travel magnet in Europe.