Crusaders and German merchants sailed into the area that would become Riga in 1201. From that point on, trade flourished, and Riga became a major port. Dominating the skyline are church steeples and the high-rise building known as Sun Stone on the bank of the River Daugava, the oldest part of an international trade route between the Baltic and Black seas.
Vanshu Bridge connects the two banks of the river, and behind the bridge is Riga Castle. Most cruise ships dock at the city center, a 10-minute walk from the old town.
- Markets: Riga is home to Europe’s oldest and largest market.
- Shopping: Also, in neighboring Latvia, look for amber in Riga, where Amber Gallery offers exclusive amber jewelry, set in silver and gold in multiple locations throughout the city. While in Riga, take time to browse the antique shops that sell Latvian paintings ranging from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Also look for bronze, silver, furniture, books, coins and china, and a genuine old Russian icon or two.
- Castles and Kings: Riga Castle stands on the ashes of a castle built by the Order of the Sword Brothers around 1209. Originally named Wittenstein Castle (“made of white stone”), the castle was destroyed by townsfolk in the civil war. A second castle, rebuilt on the site, was destroyed. Reconstruction on the third and current castle was completed in 1515.
- Churches: The Baltic region’s largest cathedral (Riga’s Dome Cathedral, also home to what was once the world’s largest organ).
- Museums: Open-air museums provide an opportunity for visitors to see how life was lived during earlier times in the Baltic Sea region. Riga’s Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum features buildings from outlying Latvian regions, homesteads, several churches, windmills, smithies and brick-kilns. Also on show are Livonian peasants and Russian old-believers’ farmhouses, as well as the 18th century country school, an old road pub and a farm of the 1920-1930s.
- Performing Arts: Riga’s National Opera dates back to the 18th century when the first musical performances were staged in the Duchy of Kurzeme. In 1760, traveling opera troupes began performing regularly in Riga.
More than eight hundred years have shaped the city’s unique appearance and rich traditions.
Due to its geographical location on the Baltic Sea (where East and West meets), Riga has been an important centre of trade, finance and culture for centuries.
Today all transport modes are connecting Riga with the rest of the world – railway and motorway networks, modern airport and fast growing multipurpose port system.
Riga has unique values due to its rather intact medieval architecture and that of later periods, the urban structure, the richness and quality of Art Noveau architecture and the 19th century wooden architecture of the city. It was recognised by inscribing the historic centre of Riga as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Riga belongs to the cultural space of western Europe. For the city, dynamic and diverse music and arts activities are typical. Over centuries, the creative atmosphere evolved in Riga and inspired composers, poets and artists.
Riga has hundreds of ways for enticing visitors – its rich history, architecture, spacious gardens and parks, museums, art galleries and world-class opera … and daily treats like a walk in the enormous colourful central market or going to a cosy cafe, club or pub …
Throughout the year, Riga will try to entice you. Discover Riga for yourself, and you will wish to re-visit Riga many times!
Avid Cruiser Posts, Photographs and Videos Featuring Riga.