LATVIA: The Capital RIGA
Riga is the capital of Latvia. The city is situated on the Baltic Sea
coast on the mouth of the River Daugava. It is one
of the biggest cities of the Baltic region with close to one million
and serves as a major cultural, educational, political, financial,
commercial and industrial center in the Baltics. Before the war, Riga
was known as the Paris of the Baltics.
Just over a decade after
Latvia declared independence from the
and the country joining both NATO and the European Union in 2004, Riga
is again a city on the rise. Riga is rapidly becoming the major Baltic
business capital, before Estonia’s Tallinn and Lithuania’s Vilnius. On
the tourist level,
is also booming with visitor attractions appearing everywhere and an
ever-burgeoning proliferation of hotels at all levels.
The Latvian capital has often suffered, like so many other European
cities. Throughout its turbulent history it has been routinely sacked,
occupied, reoccupied and then sacked again, by everyone from the
Teutonic Knights and the Swedes, through to the French and the Polish.
In the 20th century came devastating invasions by the Nazis and Stalin.
The Soviet Regime was responsible for the eyesore housing estates on the
city’s periphery and some lingering Stalinist era architecture. But
their traces gradually are being paved over.
Today, the historic centre of Riga has been declared a UNESCO World
Heritage Site, and the city is particularly notable for its extensive
Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) architecture, comparable in significance only
with Vienna, Prague and Barcelona.
As far as the major architectural treasures are concerned, the Old Town
is a must for every visitor. It descends towards the banks of the
Daugava River in a maze of cobbles, voluminous spires and impressive
squares. The city that was once besieged and captured by Germany now has
Europe’s most impressive collection of Germanic Jugendstil.
Riga offers its guests the possibility too experience the pleasures and
sights of a modern European city. Across Bastekalns Park lies the New
Town, the commercial and business heart of the city, with its broad
avenues and grid-like layout, while further down the river is the city’s
Extensive reconstruction works help
Riga to regain the natural beauty it possessed at the beginning of the
century when the city was known as the "small Paris" and new comfortable
hotels, cozy restaurants and modern office buildings are helping
to become the new Baltic metropolis. The recent reopening of the
National Opera House gave
one of the most beautiful theatres in