Riga, Latvia RIX trip reports

Riga in Photo Detail

Two days in Riga was long enough to acclimate myself to the relatively small walking area in the central tourist zone of the city. I walked around Old Town Riga. I photographed details on early 20th century Art Nouveau architecture of Alberta iela (Albert Street; iela = street in Latvian). Riga’s Central Market Pavilions are housed in large Zeppelin dirigible airship hangars built in the 1920s, repurposed these days from their original design function as covered market stalls for 3,000 vendors.

Riga is a city abundant in visual detail.

Albert iela-1

Alberta iela is one of Riga’s most popular sightseeing streets for its Art Nouveau architectural detail.

Riga wood building

Riga is considered one of the great cities for architecture.

Riga was a major centre of the Hanseatic League, deriving its prosperity in the 13th–15th centuries from the trade with central and eastern Europe. The urban fabric of its medieval centre reflects this prosperity, though most of the earliest buildings were destroyed by fire or war. Riga became an important economic centre in the 19th century, when the suburbs surrounding the medieval town were laid out, first with imposing wooden buildings in neoclassical style and then in Jugendstil . It is generally recognized that Riga has the finest collection of art nouveau buildings in Europe. and is named to the UNESCO World Heritage List for art nouveau and 19th century wooden buildings.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Riga doorway

Old Town Riga doorway.

Walking aimlessly through Old Town Riga streets, I followed a family walking down an alley I would have not ventured down if I had not seen this family disappear into the opening at the end of the road without opening any doors.

Riga Old Town alley

Through the dark doorway I found this cavernous space.

Riga Old Town-2

And another walk-thru to some of the oldest parts of Old Town Riga.

Riga tower

Powder Tower (1650) in Old Town Riga is now part of the Riga War Museum.

Riga has been an important port city since early Middle Ages with its natural harbor location on the Daugava River about 10 miles from the Baltic Sea coast. The river can handle cruise ships upriver to within one mile of Old Town.

Riga cruise ship

Riga was one of Russia’s main seaports since the early 1700s. From 1621 to 1710 Riga was part of Sweden until Tsar Peter the Great conquered Riga. By 1900, Riga was the third largest city in the Russian Empire after Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Latvia has a high proportion of Russian speakers to this day. Something like 25% of Latvians are ethnic Russians speakers  in citizenship limbo. Unlike Lithuania, Latvia did not grant automatic citizenship to ethnic Russians following 1991 independence. Depending on ancestry, ethnic Russians must pass a Latvia citizenship and language test. These non-citizens of Latvia have no citizenship with Russia either.

About 170,000 ethnic Russians in Latvia do not have citizenship in a country of 2 million. There are around 55,000 Russian citizens in Latvia.

Riga Berlin Wall

Remnant of wall protecting the Latvia Parliament building during The Barricades January 1991 anti-Russia fight for independence. Center block is remant from Berlin Wall.

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia declared independence from the U.S.S.R. in 1990 when democracy swept through the Baltic States. In January 1991 there was a last stand by pro-Russia forces to reclaim Lithuania and Latvia. The Barricades is a 1992 monument to the pro-Latvia people’s resistance of January 1991, which saw protest on the streets of Riga attracting 700,000 people, more than one-third of the country’s population.

Green parks in the city center

One of Riga’s attractive features is a green belt through the central city from the central train station and bus centers northwesterly nearly two miles to near the cruise ship port.

Riga green-1

Riga green-2

Old Town Riga was lively with cafes, restaurants, shops and pubs. I thoroughly enjoyed two early spring season April days in Riga and I am heading there again in July  for a longer stay.

Riga Old Town square

Riga Cathedral Square

I read a statistic with depressingly few sunshine hours for Riga. My first day in Riga had limited sun, while the second day was brilliant.

Riga sparkles when the ornate details of colorful buildings are awash in sunlight.

Riga detail



1 Comment

Comments are closed.