Gauss-Telegraph: World trip from home in 30 days – Riga
by Lena Heinecke
My impression of Riga
Riga is the capital of Latvia and is located near the Baltic Sea. Although it is the largest city of the Baltic States with its 700,000 inhabitants, it offers the flair of a small town. The old town is ideal to be explored on foot, as there are no cars allowed. Other sights in the city can also be reached on foot, or by taking one of the many trams. The cityscape is particularly characterized by churches, art nouveau buildings, parks, cobblestones and the Daugava running through the city and flowing into the Baltic Sea. Since the city is relatively small, I think it’s perfect for a three- to four-day short trip.
The Latvian Academy of Sciences is a very impressive, 108 meters high building with a viewing platform on the 16th floor. Since there are hardly any high-rise buildings nearby, it offers the best overview of the whole of Riga for five euros.
The old town is particularly suitable for a walk through the streets and alleys. Almost all streets are made of cobblestones and there are no cars, which is why you can calmly inspect the many beautiful buildings from the Hanseatic period and in Art Nouveau style. On your walk you will pass by many churches and the cathedral, most of which are open all day for sightseeing. Particularly famous sights in the old town are the town hall and the House of the Blackheads on the town hall square. The Freedom Monument on the Great Square is an obelisk with a Statue of Liberty on its top. When you are there, you should definitely take a stroll through one of the most beautiful parks in all of Riga on Basteiberg, which is right next to the monument. Riga Castle is also in the old town, but can only be visited from the outside because the Latvian President lives there and it is closely guarded.
Best museum in the city
The Latvian Occupation Museum (Raiņa bulvāris 7, Centra Rajons) shows pictures, videos and exhibits from the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union and the National Socialists. The occupation lasted from 1940 to 1991 and about a third of Latvia’s inhabitants died in the Holocaust, in military service, in Nazi concentration camps and in the Gulag. The exhibition is divided into different time periods and is designed in a very interesting way through interview videos with survivors as well as many personal stories and fates.
Favourite local dish
When visiting Riga, take some time to stroll through the central market. In addition to fresh fruit, vegetables and meat, you can buy a lot of fish, seafood and pastries of all kinds at really affordable prices. Unfortunately, I do not know any specific names of the specialties, but all types of sweet pastries there are definitely highly recommended.