Riga: Top Ten Attractions

Riga: Top Ten Attractions - Riga, Latvia

by MEREDITH FRANCO MEYERS


The capital of Latvia may be small in size, but it's big on culture. From the opera to town hall, here's a list of 10 of our favorite must-sees.

1. Riga Cathedral

Established in 1211, the Riga Cathedral in Cathedral Square (Doma laukums), tops our list. For a true treat, attend a concert to hear the church’s colossal organ—in all its 6,828-pipe glory—at work. Find a full schedule of events here.

Admission (to cathedral and chapel): free; concert tickets are generally 5 LVL

2. St. Peter's Church:

The well preserved red brick facade provides an inspiring backdrop near Ratslaukums (Town Hall Square). Most of the building today harks from the 1400s.

Admission: .50 LVL to enter; 3 LVL (for lift to the observation deck above)

3. Latvian History Museum

Touting itself as the "largest repository of Latvian material culture," this extensive collection is actually housed in Riga Castle, another to-do for culture vultures.

Admission: 1 LVL (adults); .50 LVL (reduced)

4. The National Latvian Museum of Art

Situated in an impressive example of Riga's finest architecture, the Museum of Art focuses its collection on Baltic and Latvian works from the 18th century on. The contents are impressive, with over 52,000 artworks. Art aficionados will be properly satiated.

Admission prices: 1.50 LVL (adults, just permanent collection); 2.50 LVL (adults, special exhibits), 3 LVL (combined adult ticket for permanent collection plus special exhibits), .50-1.50 LVL (children, reduced admission depending on exhibit); Note that admission to the permanant exhibition is free on the last Sunday of every month.

5. House of the Blackheads:

A testament to Latvia's post-occupation rebuilding efforts, the House of the Blackheads in Riga's Town Square (Ratslaukums), was destroyed during World War II and later reconstructed. It honors the earlier merchant guilds of Riga. Today, if you're lucky, you can catch a chamber music concert here. Tip: Be sure to snap a few photos of the House's neighbor, Riga's Town Hall, also a reconstruction feat.

Admission: 2 LVL (adults); 1 LVL (reduced)

6. Latvian National Opera

Ballets, operas and concerts, oh my! Tickets are reasonably priced and further discounts abound during the annual Opera Festival in June. For tickets, email the box office (boxoffice@opera.lv) or walk in during open hours (Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) at Aspazijas bulvaris, #3. There are also tours of the building on offer.

Admission (building tours): 30 LVL (adults); 15 LVL (reduced)

7. Bastejkalns Park and Freedom Monument

Riga's expansive and lush park divides Old Town from Center. The park itself is further bisected by the picturesque Pilsetas canal. After a leisurely stroll through the grounds, stop in front of the Freedom Monument (outside the park at the intersection of Brivibas and Raina Bulvaris), a column that marks Latvia’s freedom from occupational regimes. If you're so moved, leave some flowers behind; it’s a local tradition.

8. Riga's Art Nouveau District (Central District)

Wander through Riga's Central District and you can't miss some incredible examples of Riga's Art Nouveau heritage. Just walk down Elizabetes Street (along the Esplanade Park in the Center neighborhood) for the best tour. Eventually, you'll hit Riga’s Central Train Station.

9. Central Market

Riga’s weeklong market is housed in a series of Art Deco pavilions which are actually reconditioned World War I zeppelin hangars—each one seeming larger than the previous. Produce, cheese, meat, and household items as well as apparel are available.

10. Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

An important testament to Latvia’s past, the Museum of the Occupation chronicles fifty one years of Latvia's occupation, by the Soviets and Socialist Germans. Archives include documents, photographs, and written and oral histories. Recent thematic exhibits here have featured artifacts showcasing the 1941 changeover in occupation regimes.

Admission: Donation requested.



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