Friday, May 10, 2019

What to See in Riga, Latvia

I have visited Riga, Latvia, a number of times now and there is always more to see. For those who are visiting Riga for the first time, I would especially recommend visiting or experiencing the following:
  • A walking tour is a great way to learn about a city. In 2016, I went on a Yellow Suitcase Free tour (tip at the end). It was the Alternative Riga tour, which is offered at noon (this tour takes you outside of the Old Town). I see that the "yellow suitcase" people now offer an Old Town tour at 10:00 am starting at the front of St Peter's Church and an Art Nouveau tour (from May 1 to September 30) that starts at 3:00 pm from the National Opera. I think I'll catch one of these this year.
  • If you don't go on an organized tour, you'll probably want to take your own walking tour in the Old Town. Use a guide book like The Bradt Travel Guide: Latvia.
  • St Peter's Church has a tower with an elevator and great views from the top.
  • The Dome Cathedral is set on a large square known as Doma laukums (Dome Square). This is the largest church in the Baltics and is famous for its organ. You might even find an organ concert being presented there.
Dome Cathedral
seen from St Peter's Church Tower
  • The House of the Blackheads is located on Rātslaukums (Town Hall Square). You'll also find the main Tourist Information Center there. The House of the Blackheads was rebuilt as an exact replica of the original house (circa 1344) that was bombed in 1941.
  • The Freedom Monument, also known as "Milda," is located right on Brīvības bulvāris (Freedom boulevard).
  • Very nearby the Freedom Monument is the Laima Clock, which is a landmark and popular meeting point.
  • The parks that are next to and just beyond the canal provide a nice green space for walking and sitting in a relaxed setting. They are also a nice place to sit and knit. The canal is just on the edge of the Old Town, on the opposite side from the Daugava River.
  • The Central Markets are just south of the Old Town. The central markets consist of five buildings that were constructed using parts of German Zeppelin hangars in the 1920s. You can find produce, meat, fish, flowers, and more. It's quite an experience!
  • The Art Nouveau area of the city (located mostly just north of Elizabetes iela) is a beautiful place to explore; just walk and look up at the buildings! You will also find the Art Nouveau Museum at Alberta iela 12.
  • As far as other museums are concerned, I would recommend the National History Museum of Latvia, the Museum of Decorative Art and Design, and the Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum for starters.
For me this year, I am looking forward to my first visit to the Culture and Folk Art Centre "Ritums," as well as a knitting workshop that I've arranged with Baiba Pilāne at the Craft House of Riga Culture Center "Ilguciems." I also hope to check out the Kalnciema Quarter Market, which takes place on Saturdays from 10:00-16:00. I had hoped I'd get to the Riga Sun Museum, but I've just read that it is permanently closed. That's too bad. The sun symbol is represented by a circle shape, often containing eight parts, and is used on national clothing, craft objects, and mittens. It is the symbol of life but, ironically, not in the case of the Riga Sun Museum.

Mittens with sun symbol
knit by Erna Jansons

For shopping tips (especially for knitters), please come back for the final blog post about my 2018 trip.


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  2. A wonderful report about Riga, Mary.
    I am looking forward to be there again very soon – and to meet you!

    1. Thanks, Lizzy! I'm looking forward to my return trip too. And to seeing you there again!