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This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Friday, 12 October 2018

Day 7: Riga and its architecture

Today we were given a day pass for the local buses and trams, always the most inexpensive and best way to see a city.  Our first journey was to the Opera House to meet a local guide who was going to show us the sights and talk to us about the city of Riga. Unfortunately she was not the most engaging of guides and I found myself wandering off. I always find it difficult with guides as they tend to give you too much information and I am lucky if I can remember 1% of what is said.

The City Canal runs through Riga surrounded by beautiful gardens with a number of small bridges spanning the canal.

This is the monument of Latvia's freedom and independence. It has been Riga's central landmark  for almost a century. The woman on top of the monument is holding up three golden stars which represent Latvia's three historical areas. The motto inscribed on the base translates as 'For the Fatherland and Freedom'. It was financed entirely by public donations and unveiled on 18th November 1935.
Changing the guard in front of the monument

The city is much busier and larger than Vilnius. The architecture was fascinating ranging from Medieval to Art Nouveau.

I haven't seen this design before with the very tall chimney stacks in between windows.

The building on the left is the small Guild Hall and on the right is the Great Guild Hall now home to the Riga Philharmonic orchestra. Guildhalls have been here since the 14th cent but this Gothic styled building was opened in 1857 and then reconstructed in 1965 after a fire.

The old town was full of narrow cobbled streets

The buildings had lots of interesting additions.

This is the side wall of St John's church. Originally it was a Dominican monastery. It has a gruesome legend that in the 15th century two monks wished to become saints and were immured into the wall of the church. Riga residents fed them through a special hole in the wall. There is still a cross shaped hole in a wall where both bodies lie (I couldn't find it!). Neither of the monks became saints!

Part of the old city wall.

The Musicians of Bremen from the Brothers  Grimm fairy tale. Looks like people rub the noses for good luck.
Church of St Peter. This is the tallest church in Riga and one of the oldest in the Baltics. It was built in 1209 and still standing from that time are the side outer walls and several pillars on the inside.

House of Blackheads in the Town Hall Square. It was originally built in 1334 but has been reconstructed many times since. Blackheads were young and unmarried traders who were known for organising events and various celebrations. It became one of the main cultural venues in the city.

Today it is still used for cultural events, hosting concerts, conferences, celebratory events and so on.

The three historical houses built closely together have been known as The Three Brothers for centuries. Legend has it that they were built by three men from the same family. These are the oldest medieval houses in Riga. During medieval times this street was on the outskirts of the town and it is where the craftsmen lived. Today the buildings house the Latvian Museum Of Architecture.

The Middle brother is the richest of the three and was built in 1646

The City Wall

The powder tower is the only tower still standing from the old fortification system. It is now part of the military museum.

We left the Old Town and went to look at the Art Nouveau area. I have never seen so many decorative buildings in one area before.  Built in 1903, the blue tiling makes sure this building stands out from the rest. The building seemed to have everything from masks to peacocks as well as the geometric figures.

The detail was amazing. Everywhere you looked there was something to catch your eye. The area was full of these masterpieces.

The top of this building has windows onto the sky.

I took so many photos.

Some buildings seemed to be a fusion of art deco and art nouveau.

The staircase and ceiling in the Art Nouveau Museum.

The outside of the museum.

It is no wonder that Riga is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list for its quantity and quality of Art Nouveau buildings.


  1. Beautiful pictures....and I agree about some tour guides...

  2. Thank you for the detailed tour of Riga. I was impressed with the architecture. So many pictures to study! :-)

  3. The architectural styles are dazzling, particularly in terms of the finer details.

  4. You notice so many of the same things that I would find attractive and worth photographing. It looks like a lovely city to just walk around and look up.

  5. Love all the little sculptures. They seem to be everywhere!

  6. You took great photos of a lot of wonderful architecture, like the Guildhalls, and all the architectural details, and the first photos of the canal and bridges are pretty.

  7. A beautiful city with remarkable architecture.

  8. There are very pretty buildings in Rida and they look so well preserved!

  9. I'm with you on the subject of guided tours. I'm much better at reading than listening. I can't absorb as fast as delivered and I'm still mulling three facts! I love the details on the buildings. You don't get those in modern architecture.

  10. I am just preparing my post of Riga ! Interesting to compare our pictures, we more or less have seen the same things, only your visit was more detailed. I loved that city very much ! Have you seen all the cat sculptures they had everywhere on the top of the houses and as decorations !

  11. It’s a beautiful city and I’m kind of embarrassed to say how much that surprises me.


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