Latvia is a country with a leisurely pace of life. Hospitable locals advise you to also slowly and measuredly get acquainted with the various sights of the pearl of the Baltic. The architecture of the country is represented by ancient buildings - the Bauska Castle or the Dome Cathedral and modern buildings - the Riga TV Tower. Separately, one can single out houses of a style characteristic only for the capital - Riga Modern.
Natural beauties - waterfalls, rivers, forests can be appreciated in the national parks of Latvia. Many of them have wellness centers. Cultural life is represented by museums of various subjects. Traditional are the art museum and the ethnographic museum. Unusual and unique - Riga Motor Museum. Not only the capital of the country, but also small and cozy cities, such as Kuldiga or Jurmala, deserve the attention of tourists.
What to see and where to go in Latvia?
The most interesting and beautiful places to visit, photos and a brief description.
Old Town (Riga)
The historical part of Riga, which is advised to start exploring the capital. It will take several hours to walk around this area. On the cozy streets of the Old Town there are beautiful churches and old houses, as well as the Riga Castle, the centuries-old residence of the rulers of the state. Seasoned travelers are also advised to go to one of the small cafes in the Old Town. The pastries and coffee are amazing.
House of the Blackheads (Riga)
The building belonged to the largest corporation of foreign shipowners and merchants founded in the 14th century. In the past, they held balls and celebrations in this house, as well as held important public meetings. The facade of the building was reconstructed after the destruction during the Great Patriotic War. Currently, the house of the Blackheads is used for classical music concerts.
About a third of the houses in the center of Riga are made in a special architectural style called "Riga Modern". Most of the buildings were erected at the beginning of the 20th century. Distinctive elements of the style are bas-reliefs in the form of women's masks, unusual floral decor and stucco molding in the form of mythological creatures. Many houses of this style are located on Elizabetes Street, Alberta Street. Interesting is the "House with Dragons" on Antonijas Street, 8.
Freedom Monument (Riga)
Installed in 1935. It honors the memory of the fighters who died for the independence of Latvia. It is located on the central boulevard of Riga. The height of the monument is 42 meters. A 20-meter sculpture of a young girl is installed on top of it, it is she who symbolizes freedom. At the base of the stele there are 13 figures and sculptures depicting the main moments of the country's history. The Freedom Monument is considered an unofficial symbol of the country.
An ancient city with unusual architecture in the west of the country. One of the first churches in the city, the Church of St. Catherine, was founded in 1252. Since the 17th century, the city square has kept the traditions of the city - holidays, fairs and exhibitions are held on it. The interest of travelers is attracted by the Venta River. It forms a wide picturesque waterfall. To pass to the other side in 1874, a bridge with brick vaults was laid across the river.
Jomas Street (Jurmala)
It is one of the oldest in Jurmala, founded in the 19th century. The street is pedestrian, it has many cafes, small restaurants and shops with souvenirs. Every year, festive events are held on it in honor of the founding of the street - competitions and concerts are held, attractions are arranged, and fireworks are set off. An interesting historical building is the People's House of Jurmala, which previously housed a cinema.
House with black cats (Riga)
Built in late modern style in 1909. The cats, symmetrically mounted on the turrets, were originally turned with their tails towards the building of the Great Guild. According to legend, this is how the landlord Blumer cynically expressed his dissatisfaction, who was not accepted into it. As a result of numerous lawsuits, the cats were turned in the other direction. The facade of the building is decorated with an eagle with spread wings.
"Three Brothers" (Riga)
A residential complex representing a single architectural ensemble in Old Riga. Urban legend says that they were built by three men from the same family. Each of them erected a building in their own style, characteristic of the era of construction. The White Brother was built the earliest in 1490, the Middle Brother was built in 1746, and the Green Brother was built in 1718. Currently, the buildings of the architectural monument are occupied by state institutions.
Located in the city of Daugavpils, it is a defensive fort on the banks of the Western Dvina River. The construction of the castle began in the 19th century. The fortifications consist of ramparts, bastions and redoubts. There was a church on the parade square of the fortress, which was blown up in 1944. The fortress is divided into quarters, main and secondary streets are laid. The decor of the fortress houses is minimal, made in the style of late classicism.
Latvian National Opera (Riga)
It is home to the National Opera and Ballet companies. This state institution is engaged in the development of classical art in Latvia. The building was built in 1863 and originally belonged to the City German Theatre. Over the years, it has suffered fires, an artillery shell hit, and several reconstructions. Many ballet dancers have achieved world fame - Mikhail Baryshnikov, Maris Liepa and Alexander Godunov.
Concert Hall "Dzintari" (Jurmala)
Cinema and concert complex, known all over the world. It hosts world-class festivals and concerts. For better sounding, special elements - glass rhombuses - are installed above the stage of the open large hall. The five-level stage can be used for concerts of various themes - jazz, choir and performances of symphony orchestras. The Small Hall is stylized with motives of national romanticism.
Riga Motor Museum (Riga)
One of the most interesting car museums in Europe. The three-story building was built specifically for the exposition of the car collection. The area of museum halls is more than 3000 m². Cars made in Latvia, military equipment, a collection of cars produced by the Auto-Uniom concern, as well as motorcycles, mopeds and outboard motors are on display. Some exhibits, such as the Soviet RAEF-50, exist in a single copy.
Latvian Ethnographic Museum (Riga)
Founded in 1924. It consists of 118 buildings brought to the museum from different parts of Latvia. Together, they give a complete picture of the rural historical landscape of the country. The houses of fishermen, artisans, and peasants are available for inspection. Of the outbuildings - mills, churches, forges. Inside the buildings, the interior is recreated, corresponding to the life of people in a particular region, the life and culture of the time period is shown.
Latvian National Museum of Art (Riga)
The museum displays more than 50,000 works of art. Canvases of both Latvian and foreign artists are presented. The museum building itself in the style of classicism and baroque is an architectural monument. It was built in 1905. More than 100 years later, the building was reconstructed. An underground floor with a glass roof appeared. Two terraces under the roof were rebuilt as exhibition halls.
Military Museum of Latvia (Riga)
Dedicated to the history of the Latvian armed forces. Initially, the museum was located in the surviving Powder Tower, and the exposition was dedicated to the memory of the Latvian riflemen who died in the First World War. In 1940, the museum moved to a building specially built for it. Currently, the museum's expositions cover the military history of the peoples of the Baltic region over many centuries and the role of the armed forces in the formation of the Latvian state.
Museum of the Occupation of Latvia (Riga)
The museum exposition tells about the history of Latvia in the period from 1941 to 1990. The museum is private, but has state accreditation. The funds contain more than 60,000 items and 30,000 documents and photographs that keep the memory of the period of occupation of Latvia. Including recorded more than 2000 videos with people who survived this period. The museum is often visited by major politicians such as Petro Poroshenko and Angela Merkel.
Dome Cathedral (Riga)
One of the largest and oldest religious buildings in Latvia. The cathedral was built in 1211. Located in the center of Riga. Its architectural style combines Art Nouveau, Baroque and Gothic elements. The height of the spire before the fire in 1547 was 140 meters. The cathedral has an organ with 6768 pipes. Hundreds of people come to enjoy his music. And also within the walls of the cathedral is the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation.
Church of St. Peter (Riga)
Lutheran church, built in 1209. It is included in the list of objects protected by UNESCO. Its spire, 123 meters high, is visible from almost all corners of Riga. Above - only the Riga TV tower. At a height of 71 meters, an observation deck is equipped on the spire. Almost the entire city and the valley of the Daugava River are perfectly visible from it. Inside the church are an ancient carved wooden altar, the Blue Guard Chapel, a statue of the knight Roland.
Nativity Cathedral (Riga)
The cathedral was built at the end of the 19th century in the traditional Byzantine style. The temple is five-domed with a large bell tower. Russian painters were invited for painting - Vereshchagin, Shamshin, Venig. The 20th century was difficult for the cathedral. During the change of political power in Latvia, worship services were not conducted in the cathedral, the building was practically destroyed. Only in 1992, religious life resumed in the restored building.
Founded in 1768. On the day of the Ascension of the Mother of God, more than 150,000 pilgrims come here. The record for attendance was 1993, when Pope John Paul II served the Pontifical Mass. 380,000 pilgrims arrived to hear the Mass. The style of the basilica is late Baroque. There are beliefs that the spring near the lake near the basilica is holy and can heal, and Our Lady of Anglon protects newborn children.
Founded in 1214. Built on the site of a wooden crusader castle. It burned down at the end of the 18th century. But tourists still continued to visit its ruins, and their interest in the ruins influenced the decision to restore the castle. Since 1973, excavations have been carried out here and many valuable antiques have already been found. At the same time, the restoration of the castle is underway. Several towers, part of the buildings and walls have been restored.
Built by the crusaders in 1207 after their victory over the local population. One of the most powerful and protected fortresses in Livonia. Over the centuries, the castle has changed many owners and survived many battles and assaults. To date, a tower and several fragments of walls have been preserved from the castle. In the design elements you can see the early Gothic style. In the ruins of the chapel, elements of the interior and facades have been preserved.
Rundale Palace (Pilsrundale)
Residence of the Dukes of Courland. Its name means "Valley of Tranquility". Its construction began in 1736. The palace complex includes outbuildings and stables. It is surrounded by a French-style garden. The palace is two-story, it has 138 rooms. It was built in the Baroque style, and the facade is made in the Rococo style. Currently, the door is used to receive high-ranking guests from abroad by the president.
Also known as Wenden Castle. One of the best preserved castles of the Teutonic Order. Built in the 13th century. The city of Cēsis was erected at its walls later. Among the owners of the castle is the Russian Chancellor Bestuzhev, who abandoned the castle after a strong fire in it. At the end of the 18th century, Baron Sievers restored the castle, and also added extensions to it - the Church of the Savior, the "New Castle" and the tower of Lademaher.
It was built in the 15th century by the knights of the Livonian Order to protect against Lithuanian troops. Over time, the settlements of artisans and fishermen around turned into the city of Bauska. During the Second Northern War, the castle was blown up by order of Peter I. And the locals used the fragments of the walls for their own needs. In 1970, the restoration of the castle began. Currently, several museum expositions are located within its walls.
Riga TV tower
The tallest building in the Baltics with a height of 369 meters. The TV tower is located on Hare Island. At a height of 97 meters there is an observation platform from which Riga and the Gulf of Riga are perfectly visible. High-speed elevators are located in two pillars of the tower. Above, on the technological floors, there is an ordinary elevator. The building of the TV tower directed to the sky is one of the most recognizable symbols of Riga.
Forest Park "Dzintari" (Jurmala)
Located in the center of Jurmala. It grows a unique forest of 200-year-old pines. The green zone is large - it occupies 13 hectares. Great for walking. The paths are laid between the trees, there is a sufficient number of benches for rest. The park has special paths for cycling and roller skating. Playgrounds are equipped, a skate park is equipped for teenagers.
Vermanes Park (Riga)
Founded in 1813, this is one of the oldest parks in Riga. Named in honor of the widow Verman, who donated a large sum to the arrangement of the park on the site of the bog. The area of the park is 5 hectares. There is a fountain in the center of the park. More than 2,000 trees and shrubs have been planted, including those not typical for this area - ash-leaved lanine and Manchurian walnut. The rose garden of the park is remarkable – the first one in Riga.
The waterfall is located in the city of Kuldiga on the Venta River. The natural monument is valued for the fact that it is located within the city and its inspection is very convenient for tourists. From the side of the city, a staircase was built to it and there is an observation platform. The width of the waterfall is about 100 meters, in high water it can be more than 200 meters. The height is approximately 2 meters. The course of the river is slow, some daredevils wade through the waterfall a step away from the cliff.
The nature park is located on the banks of the Daugava River, in a picturesque place where it makes 8 bends. The height difference in this place is significant - it reaches 50 meters. The largest cliff called Verversky is 42 meters high. Several thousand people visit the park every year. They are attracted not only by the natural beauty of the park, but also by the historical sights in it - castles and parishes.
The national park was founded in 1997 and is of high importance in the field of nature protection. It is divided into three zones. People cannot enter one of the protected areas at all, while visitors are allowed access to others. Paths are laid for walks, bridges are thrown over the streams. They pass through a large Kemer swamp, sand dunes, past lakes. You can also rent a bike. There are two mineral springs in the park, they do SPA procedures.
The picturesque park is the most famous in Latvia. It is located in the Gauja river valley. Because of the beautiful views and landscapes, the park is often called the Livonian or Latvian Switzerland. Most tourists are attracted by the cliffs of Devonian sandstone, their height reaches 90 meters. Most of the territory is covered with forest, it has many lakes. You can also see historical monuments - burial mounds, medieval castles, rock paintings.
More than 300,000 people visit the zoo every year. It is home to over 2,000 animals of 400 different species. The zoo is located on the shore of Lake Kisezers. This is a large green area with walking alleys and beautiful landscape solutions. Cozy pavilions are built on the shore of the lake. You can not only look at animals in the Riga Zoo, but also feed them. For this, the "Rustic Corner" is equipped. For visitors to the zoo there is a cafe.
The total length of the beaches of Jurmala is about 30 km. On all lies clean and soft sand. Maiori beach is considered the most popular among young people because of the many active beach activities on it. For families with children choose - Bulduri and Jaunkemeri. They have a smooth and shallow entry into the water. Windsurfers prefer Pumpuri beach - a strong wind creates decent waves there.
Gulf of Riga
Situated between Estonia and Latvia. On its banks are the cities of Riga, Jurmala, Pärnu. The water temperature in summer warms up to 18 degrees, and in winter it drops below 0 degrees. The wide beaches of the shores consist of white sand, but there are also rocky areas. There is a strip of dunes up to 10 meters high. Some parts of the coast are covered with dense forest. The diverse nature of the bay makes it a great holiday destination.