Riga, as the capital and biggest city of Latvia, had a very interesting history. The city was grounded in the XIIth century by German immigrants and soon became a full member of Hansa, a German association of the most important Baltic ports ( other members were Hamburg, Rostock, Bremen etc). Riga continued its ascension and blossomed again by the end of XIXth century, due to a strong German and Jewish community.
The XXth century was not good at all for Riga, as the city was almost uninterruptedly under foreign occupation. First came the Germans during the WWII and destroyed the Jewish minority to extinction. Then came the Soviets, which have brutally ruled for 50 years. Through mass deportations, planned economy etc they reached an unprecedented record: the Latvian majority of population became actually a minority! More amazing: they still preserved a national conscience and they claimed an independent Latvia, which they get today!
This long introduction is an abridged history of Latvia, and has the aim to explain you why all the Latvian will push you to start any visit in Riga from the Occupation Museum. You are able to find there many things and artifacts from those gloomy times. The entry is free, and it is one of the best European museums, in my opinion. Another very interesting museum in Riga is The History and Navigation Museum.
Vicriga (Old Riga) with its many interesting old buildings is a must for every visitor. Art Deco and Art Nouveau are reaching here their best. Walking in the area is an unforgettable experience. Even UNESCO found this area unparalleled to any other and declared it a World Heritage Site . The Dom Lokums (Cathedral Square) is right in the front of Occupation Museum, and there is also a wonderful cathedral there. Another thing to do in Riga is to get a panoramic view of the city from the St. Peter’s church.
Riga has also a vibrant exciting night life. The vodka is served in liters way and it is of the best quality. I discovered in Vicriga an amazing bar called Leningrad, which tries to replicate in every detail the communist atmosphere. I found it gorgeous and wanna recommend to you! Experience also the Riga Balsam, a strong local vodka based cocktail.
The Baltic shore is next to Riga. When in Riga visit also Jurmala with its excellent aqua park, and discover amber washed by the Baltic waves.
So, you’ve got to discover Riga, the most cosmopolitan Baltic city! As soon as possible.
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