AUG 11,2018 - AUG 11,2018 (1 DAYS)
Riga - Day 2 - From The Central Market (Centraltirgus) to The Dom square:
Part 1: the south part of Old Riga (1/2 day) - Tip 1 below.
Part 2: the central part of Old Riga (1/2 day) - Tip 2 below.
Part 1 Main Attractions: The Central market, The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum, The Latvian Academy of Sciences, Riga Orthodox Church of Annunciation of St. Virgin, Riga Railway Station, Forum Cinemas.
Part 2 Main Attractions: Mentzendorff House, House of the Blackheads, Town Hall Square, Latvian Riflemen Monument, Riga Cathedral, Dome Square, Līvu Square, Mikhail Chekhov's Russian Theatre, Cat House, Saint John Church, St Peter's Church, Bremen Town Musicians statue.
Duration: 1 day. Distance (two parts): 7 km. Weather: any weather. Start & End: The Central Bus Station / Wellton Hotel and Spa.
Introduction: our route, today, starts in the southern part of Riga Old Town and move northward to more central sites in Vecrīga. The southern part is called Spīķeri (from German Spéicher), which have now been turned into a hip arts & entertainment quarter.
Our hotel: Wellton Hotel and Spa. It resides opposite (north to) the Central Bus Station. You have to pass an underway (3 minutes walk) which connects both of them. The Central Bus Station is adjacent (west and south to) to the Central Market of Riga:
We start our daily route in the Central market (Centraltirgus) that will attract you for hours. A great walking tour. Five hangars and outdoor stalls sell a variety of Latvian and international produce, from seafood to cheeses, to meats, to fruits and vegetables. The Central Market is an intriguing combination of sights and smells and is great for people-watching, too. There is no item on earth - not represented in this HUGE market. We saw tens of markets around the world. The RIGA market is one of the best two or three around the globe. No other attraction like this in Europe ! It is one of the most visited in the world, as 90,000-100,000 people shop here per day on the average. The market is busiest on Saturdays and Sundays. In 1998, the vast territory of Riga Central Market was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Here you can pick up a last-minute snack or souvenir to remind you of your brief stay in the Latvian capital city. Every hangar is equipped with automatic doors and you can move among 4 of them without exiting outside. You can visit the market hangars in any weather conditions. These architecturally-imposing food pavilions, built in the 1920s, are Riga Central Market’s calling card. It was planned from 1922 and built from 1924 to 1930. Originally used as military airship hangars, they were later transformed into market venues. The market's pavilions are five of nine Zeppelin hangars remaining in the world.
Everything is very inexpensive. It's a great market to check out and get a taste of the locals, and, above all, a fun stop in Riga.
Still, half of the market stall stand outside in the open air. Many of them are rows with souvenirs:
Onto the hangars - there are special territories for: fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, flowers etc':
Salmon fish products including eggs:
Medus = Sweet:
The open-air stalls are, mainly, clothes and second-hand items stalls and stalls for local small holders with at this time of year: cherries, raspberries, red and black currants and strawberries. Around there are many farmers that sell fruits for little prices (and they are very good too !):
You can also buy a local drink called Kvass from barrels. It is made by bread with very very low alcohol. It tastes a bit sweet. 0.3 Litre - 1 euro, 0.5 L - 1.4 euro, 1 L - 1.4 euro:
Pharmacy - alternative medicine:
The market is very vibrant, rich, intriguing - but, NOT noisy and NOT vulgar. Very suitable also for children. Part of the stall are open during the night. You can find stalls opened 'around the clock'.
Be careful from pickpockets. On the same time the market's administration has determined to take tough measures on sellers that are deceiving customers. There are future plans to join nearby train and bus station into a single complex as well as increase selling of Latvian produce.
From the most southern parts of the Central Market - we head to Spīķeri (the area of the past Riga Jewish Ghetto). You can easily arrive to the Ghetto even with our general hints. Search for the most south-east outskirts of the market and start walking in this directions. Ask the locals about the Ghetto or Spīķeri and follow several poor signposts. You will see the mighty, high-rising Latvian Academy of Sciences or the Observation deck on your left (west) all the time:
The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum are, formally, at Maskavas iela 14A, Latgales priekšpilsēta. The more you strive for the south and approach Spīķeri - the more desolated, poky and neglected are the surroundings. Avoid this area in rainy or hot days. There is no shelter around. You will hear (during the weekdays) noises of reconstructions and build-up. This warehouses area or barn district on the banks of Daugava between present Gogoļa Street, Central Market, Krasta and Turgenev Street was, for hundreds of years a centre of wooden warehouses and, later, during the 19th century, of stone warehouses (the Red Warehouse district). All warehouses, except the warehouse stretching along Turgeņeva Street at Maskavas Street 14A, are massive two-storey or three-storey brick buildings. The warehouse at Maskavas Street 14A (now, the holocaust Museum) is a one-storey building. Warehouses have arched basements and wooden coverings between floors. Warehouses form a spatially not completed, but monolithic ensemble of buildings. According to special building regulations elaborated for the warehouse district, all warehouses have matching facades, i.e. facades that have similar and harmoniously attuned design. They are designed in the so-called „brick style” – one of formal varieties of the 19th century eclectic style that prevailed in the architecture of industrial structures, warehouses and other commercial buildings. We don't think that you'll have the opportunity to appreciate the qualities of this interesting district. It is under the project of “Revitalization of the degraded territory between Maskavas, Krasta and Turgeņeva streets” . The ambitious project turns the streets warehouses and blocks into a publicly accessible, cultural and educational quarter, of interest to both locals and tourists. The territory is attractive for both locals and tourists as the warehouse block is located in the historical centre, which is included on the Unesco World Cultural Heritage list. It will take years to complete this plan. Within the framework of the project, the entire block of buildings and the Daugava embankment were revitalised and the underground pedestrian tunnel reconstructed, through which one can go from city centre to the riverside promenade and take advantage of the beautiful views of the city seem from scenic river banks. The area is now characterized by cobbled passages, benches, flower pots, trees, playgrounds, a skate park, a place for performances and events, a wide promenade near the Daugava, viewing areas and a quayside – all instead of the desolation that was:
The entrance to the Jewish Ghetto Museum is from Krasta Iela. The Retro Tram #7 arrives nearby:
The museum is FREE (donation is happily accepted). Closed on Saturdays. Open: 10.00 – 18.00. The museum is VERY moving with both of its parts: the Jewish and the Armenian. Not for the faint-hearted, but great lesson to us all. You won't forget this exposition for a long time. A lot of provocative material, leaves you plenty to think of. This museum is mostly outdoors and has lots of information about the ghetto and the holocaust. There's also guided tour in area, but you can also just go and walk on your own. Very moving wall of memorial:
There is an exhibit about the Jews sent from Theresienstadt to Riga called "3000 Fates":
Do not miss the inspiring court with the 'Weeping Willow' (like the one in Budapest Jewish Museum) and the Hebrew letters:
You can go inside a ghetto house and see models of Latvian synagogues on the first floor and a typical ghetto apartment on the second floor.
There are several striking documents and photos concerned with the Jewish Holocaust and revival history - like the photo of David Ben-Gurion (1st Israel PM and the main figure of its independence) as a delegate in the Zionist Congress in Riga:
or the picture of Sara Aaaronson - member of 'Nili' underground group fighting against the Ottoman mandate, assisting the British army conquering Israel (Palestine) during WW1:
The exhibits on the Armenian genocide are mesmerizing. The exhibition consists of video-installation, rare photos and books,and textual information that increases the knowledge on the first genocide of the 20th century, the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks from 1915 onwards:
A small but AMAZING museum. The Ghetto is a very bold reminder of the evil that people can carry out or cooperate with. In this sense - Riga has a very shameful history.
Our next destination is the Latvian Academy of Sciences (Stalin's Cake), the highest building in Riga. Your direction is north-east. Find the intersection of Maskavas iela and Turgeņeva iela. Turn left (north-east) onto Turgeņeva iela, 160 m. Turn right onto Elijas iela, 50 m. Turn, again, left for 30 m. and the Latvian Academy of Sciences Observation deck, Akademijas laukums 1 will be on your left. The Latvian Academy of Sciences is a striking building, dating from the Soviet era (known in other countries as 'Stalin's Wedding Cake'), but it offers amazing views of Riga. "Panorama Riga" is a circular terrace - observation deck of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, offering breathtaking 360° panoramic views of Riga. Beautiful Stalinist style building. You can find buildings like this in Moscow and Warsaw. Open: daily 10.00 - 22.00. Entry fee to the viewing platform 5€. Children - FREE. Come with the 5€ notes ready in your pocket. Sometimes, the ladies there refuse to give change. Route to the platform via elevator and two staircases. There is an elevator that takes you to the 15th floor, the platform is on the 17th. Stunning 360° view from the top. You can see most of the Riga old town here. You get excellent views on all four sides on the very top of the building. You can see the Old Town, the Daugava River, and other major landmarks of the city from this deck without obstruction and the photographs taken here are terrific. The terrace is wide enough, so groups of tourists or companies of friends can feel free on the "Panorama Riga" observation deck. As you walk round the observation deck information signs help give some background to key buildings that you can see. You can watch the most beautiful sunset or have a romantic date in the height of 65 meters (17th floor of the building). There is an elevator almost to the top, you have to climb only two floors up. The views from atop the deck are better than the ones from the Radisson Blu hotel or from St. Peter's Church. Much cheaper than going to the viewing platform of the St Peter church in the old Town. You also get a flavour of the Soviet architecture and decor in the ground floor/entrance area. Early mornings are not busy and are favored for the sun position. Another favored hour is the sunset one. There is toilet in the tower:
Further north-east we arrive to the intersection of Turgeneva iela and Gogola iela. In this intersection - you see a beautiful Russian Orthodox church. The Riga Orthodox Church of Annunciation of St. Virgin or Rīgas Dievmātes Pasludināšanas baznīca, Gogola iela 9. The original church that once stood here was destroyed when the entire area was razed in 1812 to deprive Napoleon’s army of shelter. The army took a different route. Fortunately, some of the historic icons were saved and now adorn the walls of the current yellow wooden church that was built in 1818. Although it looks like it’s falling apart on the outside its simple interior is still worth a quick peek. Very colorful and nicely decorated church. No photos allowed inside:
It is a 550 m. walk to the central Railway Station in Riga. There were 3 reasons we decided to visit the station. First of all, it main hall is magnificent. It is a very cool commercial center, well organized, air-conditioned, not overloaded and includes many amenities - including the Lido restaurant (where we had a good lunch, see below). Head northwest from the Russian Orthodox Church in Gogla iela 9 toward Turgeņeva iela
200 m. Slight right to stay on Gogoļa iela, 280 m. Turn right at Satekles iela to face the central Railway Station (Stacijas laukums). This was the place to buy our tickets for our day trip to Jūrmala (well, no need to buy in advance). It is a terminus for five railway lines: Riga–Skulte, Riga–Lugaži, Riga–Daugavpils (Zilupe), Riga–Jelgava (Liepāja), Riga–Tukums (including Jūrmala) as well as international trains to Russia, Lithuania, Germany and Belarus. Most public city transport stops are situated in the nearby streets — Marijas iela, Merķeļa iela, Satekles iela and 13. janvāra iela:
In the Central station building on the first floor there is Rimi supermarket. Nearby Iin the Origo complex) there is a brilliant Stockmann supermarket.
The Station facade with reflection of Marijas iela and Satekles iela:
A bit north to the Train Station - you find the Origo shopping centre. We had our lunch in Lido Origo restaurant. Air conditioned. Pleasantly decorated. Always busy - but, you have your own space. 9 euros per person for beetroot soup (pink, not red, tasty, filling, full with beetroot pieces, onion, garlic, parsley, hard eggs etc' - a meal of its own), main course (meat or chicken or fish with two add-ons). Superb meal in a budget price. A huge selection to choose from. You choose your portions and pay for every piece of your selection. Rock-bottom prices with top quality. Very big, clean and spacious seating area. There approx. 9 branches of Lido in Riga. We stuck with Lido during our 5 days of stay in Riga:
Outdoor exposition of Latvian Hi-Tech achievements and innovations in the Railway Station Square (Crawler 'Step by Step'):
Wood S4P Board - 'GG SUP Race 12.6':
Leaving the train complexes behind and heading north-west to the Old Town of Riga - you find Marijas iela on your right (north-east) and Satekles iela on your left (south-west). Turn left to the busy Satekles iela to find Forum Cinemas or Kino Daile (Cinema Beauty) on your left. Generally spoken - a good experience. Average prices. Clean and comfy halls. Not packed with many spectators:
From the Forum Cinema centre we move to Tip 2, Part 2 our our 2nd day in Riga: several famous attractions like: The Dom Square, The Town Hall Square, The Blackheads building, St. John and St. Peter Churches and more. Move to Tip 2 below.
Part 2 of our 2nd day in Riga: the central part of Old Riga (1/2 day):
Main Attractions: Mentzendorff House, House of the Blackheads, Town Hall Square, Latvian Riflemen Monument, Riga Cathedral, Dome Square, Līvu Square, Mikhail Chekhov's Russian Theatre, Cat House, Saint John Church, St Peter's Church, Bremen Town Musicians statue.
How to move from Riga Bus Station / Wellton Hotel and Spa to Mentzendorff House, our first spot (in day 2) in Riga Old Town:
There are several itineraries to arrive to the Old Town from the Bus Station. We chose a route which combines the Soviet southern parts of Riga with the more elaborated, multicultural central part of Old Riga (via Kungu iela - 500 m. walk). From the Central Bus Station head northwest on Prāgas iela
60 m. Walk along the underway to exit in the front of Wellton Hotel and Spa at Kalēju iela. Turn left (west) onto Kalēju iela. Turn right onto Kungu iela and 200 m. further you see, on your left, Mentzendorff House, Grēcinieku 18 (Mencendorfa Nams). A 3-storey building which houses a museum about the life of a wealthy resident of Riga, as well as the culture and traditions of the city in the 17th and 18th centuries. Museum is named after the family name of the last family who lived in this house – the Mentzendorffs. The house is a branch of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation. In the turn of the 19th /20th cent. August Mentzendorff – the owner of this house – sold the best coffee in town. Descendants of August Mencendorff still maintain relations with the museum and support it. It is the only museum presenting social culture traditions of wealthy Rigans. Visit the centuries-old shop room, kitchen with chimney piece, drawing room, dance hall, “poet’s room”, chapel, landlord’s room, girls’ room, see the old cellars and a romantic attic that now house exhibition halls. Magnificent and original wall and ceiling paintings (17th –18th cent.) are the basis of the exposition. If you like to see how people lived in the places where you visit, this house is worth a look. If you have time go there (most of the attraction in Riga are closed at 17.00). Open: WED – SUN: 11.00 – 17.00. Price: €3. Guided tours in English, German and Russian are available for €10:
Continue several metres northward along Kungu iela - to see, on your left, the Town hall Square (Rātslaukums) and the House of the Blackheads at Rātslaukums 7. The House of the Blackheads is the Riga Old City and the Latvian capital’s most magnificent edifice. This is one of the most colorful buildings in Riga, which contains a very unique historical legacy about the legendary brotherhood of the Blackheads, as well as the history of the Latvian capital. The present House of Blackheads is a replica, it was built only in 1996-2000 on the site of the former destroyed in the Second World War, but it allows us to draw a fairly accurate picture of the former house. A venue for exhibitions, concerts and other events and the Latvian president’s temporary residence. The House of the Blackheads, originally called the New House, was built in 1334. It has been reconstructed several times from 1522, when stones where set next to the doors. Major works were done in the years 1580 and 1886, adding most of the ornamentations. The sculptures were made by the workshop of August Volz. Works continued to the late-19th century, when lion figures where set above the front doors and St. George's figure appeared in the annex. The building was bombed to a ruin by the Germans on June 28, 1941 and the remains were demolished by the Soviets in 1948. The current reconstruction was erected from 1995 to 1999. It became the Latvian president’s temporary residence. Towards the end of the 14th century, the guilds uniting Riga’s merchants and craftsmen were joined by a brotherhood of banquet caterers to upper classes which quite significantly called themselves Blackheads. The brotherhood members included young and unmarried merchants of foreign, mostly German, origin. These merchants were known for their temperament and enthusiasm for the organization of various celebrations and events. Their enthusiasm transformed this building into one of the main cultural venues in the city, which set the pulse of Riga’s social, commercial and cultural scene. When traveling and supplying exotic goods from overseas, they managed to protect their ships and caravans from pirates and robbers. The Blackheads chose St. Maurice as their patron saint (his symbol - a black head), who traditionally was depicted as a black soldier with knight’s armour. After obtaining their tenant’s rights, the members of the brotherhood become part of Riga’s patrician elite, serving as councilors, members of the Great Guild and as respected members of the city’s community. During the 17th century the merchant organization, the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, became the sole tenant of the House of the Blackheads. To be a member of the Blackheads order - you need to fulfill 3 requirements: being German, rich and single. In the house merchants and ship owners gathered for centuries, the necessary connections were established and deals were concluded. The building is part of Riga’s Town Hall Square ensemble. Historically, the building’s function was to promote business activities in the city - it was a place for gathering of traders and shippers for many centuries. It was the building which basically maintained the city’s economic lifeline, as well as trade links with partners in the West and the East. The House of the Blackheads was the cultural epic centre of Riga for centuries, as the blackheads and their successors always gathered the cream of the crop of Riga’s societal scene at their events. The building fulfils these tasks up to today – concerts, balls, gala dinners and diplomatic receptions are frequently organized here.
House of the Blackheads at the evening:
In the morning:
House of the Blackheads at dusk:
The coat of arms of the Brotherhood of Blackheads, featuring Saint Maurice:
The imposing rooms of the House of Blackheads are beautifully reconstructed. The Blackheads building includes: HISTORICAL CELLAR: A historically original part of the house that was built in 1334. The cellar was used by merchants as a storage place. Wine supplies and other trading goods were stored here – grain, leather, linen, honey, wax and much more. An hot air stove was installed here to provide heating during the cold winter months, which is open for viewing. On the wall in the cellar you see a very good historical chart of Riga, since its establishment in 1201.
HISTORICAL CABINETS: The historical cabinets of the Black Heads House are representative of the 19th century interiors. Day by day meetings, important decision-making and bookkeeping were held here. A collection of sophisticated tobacco boxes, and the once largest collection of refined silverware in the Baltics can also be seen in the cabinets. During President's castle renovation from 2012 to 2016 the no. 1 citizen of the Latvian nation worked here.
HALLS AND COMPOSERS’ GALLERY: Upstairs you have enormous entertainment grand rooms with chandeliers, with beautifully painted ceilings. The magnificent Assembly Hall or Conference Hall or Festival Hall is the most luxurious ballroom in Riga. Restored to its pre-war appearance and decorated with portraits of kings:
and the splendid Lubeck Hall (used for press conferences and banquets),
along with the Composers’ Gallery. In detailed carved wooden frames, paintings of kings and rulers from the past have witnessed countless concerts of local artists. A masterpiece of ornamental and monumental art is depicted on the ceiling – “Apotheosis of St. Maurice”. Next to the halls there is a gallery with busts of eight foreign and four Latvian composers. They remind us of how much the Black heads loved art and the music that was played here. From the year 1837 to 1839 the German composer Richard Wagner lived and organised concerts in Riga and has left a significant influence on the Latvian musical development. During his stay in Riga, Richard Wagner conducted the symphony orchestra at the House of Blackheads. In 2017, a memorial plaque was erected there with
the inscription: "Riga is the city of Wagner's youth". It is recommended to see, first, the 5-D movie shown in the back side of the House of the Blackheads Guild on the 1st floor. The movie is a well-made overview of the city and its history, and the added sensory stimuli provide good entertainment as well. Then, see the rest of the museum and it will all make more sense. Opening Hours: TUE – SUN: 11.00 -18.00 (the last visitor at 17.15). Guided tour: 15 euros, adult – 6 euros, concessions (senior, student, pupil): 3 euros. Excursions can be ordered by phone. 67043678 or e-mail: email@example.com:
The Town Hall Square represents the diverse, sometimes complicated history of Riga. It features buildings from different periods - old, historical ones, replicas, soviet-era additions and newly build blocks. Several landmarks are there - Roland's statue, Blackheads house, and a view on St. Peters tower. It is crowded during the day, so don't expect to make a picture of your own! Many restaurants and cafes are nearby. When we were there there was a fun exposition of fiberglass giant bears from around the world, beautifully painted and decorated.
The Town Hall is opposite the Blackheads House. Come to the Town Hall Square also during the dusk hours. There is usually some street performers outside of the Blackheads building and the lights at night look amazing. Roland Statue stands in the middle of the Town Hall Square. Several towns have Roland statues. In late 19th century, the Society of Riga History Explorers decided that Roland Statue would also suit the city's main square. Thanks to donations, the granite statue was erected in 1897. However, the statue was destroyed during World War II, along with the entire square, nowadays statue's replica has been erected.
Head southwest on Kaļķu iela toward Mazā Monētu iela, 140 m. Turn left, 50 m. and you arrive to the Latvian Riflemen Monument - Latviešu strēlnieku laukums 1 on the right. It is a controversial red granite statue that was originally dedicated to the Latvian Red Riflemen, some of whom became Lenin's personal bodyguards. Some view the monument as a symbol of the old Communist system and would love to tear it down. Others believe it's a necessary tribute to Latvians who fought in the early years of WWI. It now honours all Latvian riflemen, both Whites and Reds. They were originally a military formation of the Imperial Russian Army assembled starting 1915 in Latvia in order to defend Baltic territories against Germans in World War I. Initially the battalions were formed by volunteers, and from 1916 by conscription among the Latvian population. A total of about 40,000 troops were drafted into the Latvian Riflemen Division. In May 1917 the Latvian Regiments transferred their loyalty to the Bolsheviks. They became known as Red Latvian Riflemen (Latviešu sarkanie strēlnieki), (Russian: красные латышские стрелки) and actively participated in the Russian Civil War. The Riflemen took an active part in the suppression of anti-Bolshevik uprisings in Moscow and Yaroslavlin 1918. On the other hand, still in 1917, a smaller number of Latvian Riflemen, mostly officers, sided against the Bolsheviks. They were called – the White Latvian Riflemen:
Head northwest on Latviešu strēlnieku laukums toward Kaļķu iela, 20 m. Turn right onto Kaļķu iela, 60 m. Slight left onto Mazā Jauniela (Little Jauniela), 110 m. Several sessions of the TV Sherlock Holms series had been shot here:
On your right - the Fat Cat Cafe'. The eclairs are delicious and the staff is very friendly. A sweet place:
Turn left onto Jauniela, 25 m. Turn right onto Palasta iela, 100 m. Turn right onto Herdera laukums, 60 m. On your right a statue of Johan Herdera. On your right also Museum of History and Navigation. You've arrived to the Riga Cathedral, Herdera laukums 6. The Riga Cathedral is the largest house of worship in the Baltics with its Romanesque cloister and the Riga Bourse Art Museum. The immense size of this cathedral is intimidating. Opening hours: May, 1 - September, 30: On Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9.00-18.00, on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9.00-17.00, on Thursdays from 9.00 - 17.30, on Sundays from 14.00 - 17.00. October, 1 - April, 30: Daily 10.00-17.00, except Sundays from 14.00 - 17.00. Prices: adult: 3.00 €. The foundation stone of Riga Cathedral was laid in 1211, and a monastery of the Cathedral Chapter of the Riga Diocese and the Riga Cathedral School were built next to the Cathedral soon afterwards. In the 14th-15th centuries, the church was transformed into a basilica, raising the central nave, constructing the western cross-nave and side chapels, as well as raising the tower to 140 meters, which made it the tallest tower in Riga of that time. The building of Riga Cathedral combines features of Romanesque, Early Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau styles. Its weathercock (or rooster) is quite visible from other parts of the city:
The organ is magnificent and it is worth going just before 12.00 to see if you can get in for one of the noon-time organ recitals…. it is fantastic to hear the huge sounds reverberating in the large open space. The organ is one of the biggest of its time (1880s) and is in fabulous working order, unlike almost every other church in the world. It is now the second largest but possibly still the best sounding. The Cathedral’s organ boasts a 6,789 pipes. The organ was built by one of the best master organ builders H.A.Contius. There seems to be daily recital at 12.00 for 20 mins and regular evening recitals (lasting for one hour and NOT for 20 minutes as stated in the ads. The Cathedral is great space for this type of concerts and we would recommend to everybody to visit one. The sound is spectacular and would rival the best around the world. 10 EU p/p seems to be on the high side. For the evening recitals it looks more reasonable:
The Riga Cathedral Ensemble includes: Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation has more than 500,000 items in its archive, and its exhibits displayed in 16 halls tell about Riga’s history of more than 800 years. The Cloister of Riga Cathedral constructed in the 13th century, is a magnificent masterpiece of Early Gothic architecture. Originally, the cloister connected Riga Cathedral with the monastery, the seat of the highest college of clerics, or the Cathedral Chapter. Displayed at the cloister are several collections of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation:
• Cannons and their equipment,
• Tomb plates,
• Pieces of decorative stone elements and hammered work from buildings that once stood in Riga,
• Plaster replica of a statue of Russian Czar Peter I,
• Materials unearthed during archaeological excavations, including a hypothetical Liv idol, the so called Salaspils Stone Head, found in the Cathedral garden,
• Coats of arms of families, societies and fraternities displayed in niches over the arcades.
Note: there are plenty of visitors in the Cathedral. Expect a 5-15 minutes queue in the entrance. There are toilets inside too (down a flight of stairs situated on the same wall as the organ as you would go out into the courtyard). The Cathedral space is quite extensive and you do NOT feel packed. Most of the organ recitals are good value and praised by the visitors - despite their price tag.
The Dome Square (Doma laukums) is the largest square in the Old Town . It is considered to be the Old Town's central square, where various public events are often held. There are seven streets in the Dome Square - Smilšu, Rozena, Šķūnu, Horse, Castle, Jacob and Jauniela.
The square includes several monuments of the 19th and 20th centuries. The most remarkable and most recognizable building on the Dome Square is the Dome Cathedral or Dome. The eclectic Riga Stock Exchange or Bourse (architect Harald Bose), built in 1855, is also worth of attention. Opposite the building of the Commercial Bank built in 1922 (architect P. Mandelshtam) and the 1940 building of the Ministry of Finance , which occupies an entire block (arch. A. Klinklava ). When we were in the Cathedral Square (Doma laukums) there was a fun exposition of fiberglass giant bears from around the world, beautifully painted and decorated. The United Buddy Bears is an international art project. More than 140 Buddy bears (every bear is 2 m high) are representing United Nations - recognized countries. Every bear was designed, constructed and sent to the exposition - by a different country. Thanks to the diverse design of bears in accordance with the specifics of each country, visitors to the exhibition are traveling around the globe:
The Buddy Bears Exposition with the red-bricked Cathedral Tower in the background:
in the background the Bourse:
This is the former building of the Riga Commercial Bank, built in the style of Neo-Classicism. The allegorical composition of the building symbolizes prosperity and is complemented by the Riga Coat of Arms. Sculptural works of the building are created in Art Nouveau style. The Latvian Radio is now in the building:
United Buddy Bears - Israel:
United Buddy Bears - Iraq:
United Buddy Bears - Denmark:
United Buddy Bears - Azerbijan:
United Buddy Bears - Poland:
In case - you are looking for a restaurant nearby: search for the Lido Alus sēta restaurant (another branch of the Lido chain in Riga), 250 m. from the Cathedral or 180 m. from the Dome Square. Head northeast on Doma laukums toward Pils iela, 65 m. Turn right to stay on Doma laukums, 110 m. Continue onto Šķūņu iela, 30 m. Turn right onto Tirgoņu iela and walk 45 m. and Lido Alus sēta, Tirgoņu iela 6 is on your left - always packed with diners. Good quality food. Moderately priced. Always fresh and tasty. You select your portions from the huge variety. Every portion, every selection is priced differently. Alll in all - very low prices and good value for your payment in the cashier.
From the Dome/Cathedral Square or from the Lido restaurant - we head to Livu Square (Līvu laukums). A 250 m. walk. Leave the square at its north-east edge. Continue onto Šķūņu iela, 55 m. Turn left onto Amatu iela, 120 m. Turn right toward Līvu Square (Līvu laukums). In summertime, the Square features outdoor cafes and beautiful flower-beds which are designed like waves to remind of the lost river after whom Riga was once named. In wintertime, this Old Town square offers a skating rink. This is the place in Riga that never sleeps. It has a lot of places to eat or have a drink and also interesting market stalls and nice buildings. A very lively place. Līvu Square is the centre of Riga's youthful life. Restaurants and bars tend to be for tourists and are a bit expensive. There is live music in many open restaurants:
Līvu Square at its eastern edge at the intersection of Vaļņu iela and Kaļķu iela - with view to the Freedom Monument:
Līvu Square is situated between Zirgu, Meistaru and Kaļķu iela. It was "flattened" during World War II, when several buildings were destroyed. The concert hall of the Latvian Philharmonic has been known since 1941 as the Great Guild Hall housing musical performances also nowadays and it stands at the western side of the square. Also standing in the western side are the Cat House and the Small Guild (south to the Great Guild house). The Riga Russian Drama Theatre resides in the southern side near the Tourist Informatin Office.
Līvu Square at its southern side. The blue-white building is the Chevalier Relais hotel:
At the southern sdide of the square we see the Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre.The Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre, Kaļķu iela 16 is on the right side of the photo below. Mikhail Chekhov's Russian Theatre in Riga is the first Russian theatre in Latvia and the oldest one outside Russia. Established in 1883, it was the second theatre in Riga, after the German Theatre. Throughout 1902-1915 the theatre had flourished under the leadership of Konstantin Nezlobin. In 1915, the shows were suspended because of WWI, but in 1922 the theatre resumed operation, this time under the new Latvian Republic. During that period, the theatre also enjoyed great success and its troupe travelled extensively throughout Europe. Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen and other European capitals eagerly anticipated to see the Russian drama. In 1940, after Latvia was annexed by the Soviet Union, the theatre was declared “national” property and forced to adhere to the ideological views of the Communist Party. Still, even then, the theatre largely succeeded in preserving its traditions and passed them onto the next generation of actors. After Latvia regained its independence in the early 1990s, the Russian Drama Theatre once again embarked on a new creativity quest. Although Russian is still the main language in the theatre, there have been more and more bilingual shows staged lately in both Russian and Latvian. The theatre is open six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday. The season starts at SEP. It is difficult to enter inside without watching a performance. Very beautiful inside:
Meistaru iela is stretching along the western side of the square - packed with bars, restaurants and historical buildings (the Great Guild, the Cat House and the Small Guild). At #19 – look at the yellow house called The Cat House. This used to be a house. The original owner wanted to get into one of the guilds that were located in the city (the guild he was interested in was the one across the street from his house). When he was denied, he had a sculptor create 2 cat statues and he put them on the rook of his house with their buts facing the guild's building. The town eventually made him turn the cats around so that it would not be offensive. The realtor of the statues went up to turn them around but fell to his death when he slipped. This building is now a casino, but the cats are still there today on the roof.
View from Līvu Square to its west side - the Great Guild, the Cat House and the Small Guild:
Līvu Square - the first cinema was opened in Paris in 28 DEC 1895. The second one was opened in Riga in 28 MAY 1896.:
At the centre of the square - you can't miss a permanent exposition of photos of Riga History.
Latvian Soldiers 1910:
Procession in Riga 1931:
In the spring of 1941, the Soviet central government began planning the mass deportation of anti-Soviet elements from the occupied Baltic states. During the night of 13–14 June 1941, 15,424 inhabitants of Latvia — including 1,771 Jews and 742 ethnic Russians — were deported to camps and special settlements, mostly in Siberia. 35,000 people were deported in the first year of Soviet occupation (131,500 across the Baltics):
Troops of Red Army entering the Freedom Monument in Riga, 14 OCT 1945:
Demolition of Lenin's Monument, 23 AUG 1991:
The last three destinations in our daily itinerary are pretty close to each other and to Līvu Square (Līvu laukums): Saint John Church, St Peter's Church and the Bremen Town Musicians statue. Head south on Līvu laukums, 30 m. Turn left toward Meistaru iela, 25 m. Turn right toward Meistaru iela, 35 m. Turn left onto Meistaru iela, 55 m. Continue onto Kalēju iela, 110 m. Turn right at Gleznotāju iela, 75 m. Turn left onto Skārņu iela, 50 m. and Saint John's Church, Skārņu iela 24 is on the left. Saint John Church (Svētā Jāņa Evaņģēliski luteriskā baznīca) is the oldest house of worship in Riga. The church is built on the site of the bishop's palace of Albert of Riga (thirteenth century). In 1234 Dominican friars took responsibility for the original small chapel and dedicated it to John the Baptist. It was extended around 1330, and continued as a Dominican chapel and parish church until 1523, and the Reformation. It continued as a parish church of the reformed Evangelical Lutheran Church. From 1587 there was further expansion of the church, in stages. The church suffered severe damage in Riga's great city fire of 31 May 1677, but was repaired, with a new spire added The church is dedicated to St John the Baptist and contains several art works related to the saint, including a large painting on the north side of the crossing, and a stained glass window depicting the saint, to the right (south) of the high altar. The window, among others, was installed around 1900. The present tower was built in 1849 according to a project by architect J.D.Felsko. The ceiling vaulting is beautiful. It is well decorated and a cool mirror showing the ceiling. The church is also used as a concert venue, due to its large size and good acoustic properties. St.John's Church has a legend - in the 15th century two monks wished to become saints and were immured in the wall. While they were still alive, Riga residents fed them through a special hole. But they were not consecrated. There is still a cross-shaped hole in a wall where both bodies lie. Take the elevator to the tower – with wonderful view on the city. In the summer months organ and vocal music concerts (FREE) are held here every Saturday at 17:00 by students. Opening hours: TUE-SUN 10.00 – 17.00. Mondays – closed. Do not mix the two churches: Saint Peter’s Church is west to the Saint John’s Church. St. John closes at 17.00 and St. Peter at 18.00. Very often the church is closed to visitors. Free entrance but donations are (loudly) demanded...:
Between the two churches you find the Bremen Town Musicians statue, Skarnu street. A gift from Bremmen town to Riga. From a tale by the Brothers Grimm, it shows the 'musicians' staring through the window at the robbers' feast at a table full of drinks and food. However some say that it depicts a political movement and they are actually staring through the Iron curtain where they had thought to find a bone or a piece of meat. Bremen, a sister city of Riga, gave this sculpture to Riga in 1900. It is located next to St Peter's Church and it is seen to give luck if you rub their noses:
Head northwest on Skārņu iela toward Jāņa sēta, 60 m. Turn left onto Reformācijas Laukums and walk 85 m. The St. Peter’s Church (Pēterbaznīca), Skārņu iela 19 is on the left. Riga’s tallest church with a tower offering a breath-taking view of the red roofs of Old Town, the modern part of the city, Riga Bay and the Daugava River with its large port. The tower is 123.25 meters high, and visitors are taken to the second gallery at the height of 72 meters. The more than 130 meters tall Gothic tower was completed at the end of the 15th century, but already in 1666 it collapsed. In 1690, a new tower was built in the Baroque style, with several domes and galleries, being the highest wooden construction in the world at the time. In 1721, a lightning struck the tower and it burned down. At the decree of Russian Tsar Peter I the tower was renovated. The church was also demolished and the tower burned down during World War II. In 1967, renovation of the tower began. This time a metal construction with an elevator was built so that the galleries can be used as sightseeing platforms. The church hall is rather bare but leaves a grand impression. The middle part of it reaches a height of 30 meters. The altar part with five chapels demonstrates verticality of the Gothic style and fine profiles. In 1997 Riga St Peter’s Church was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Take the lift to the observation platform for spectacular views of the city. Open: 10:00-18:00, Sun 12:00-18:00. Closed Mon. Price: 9 euros. St. Peter's Church is seen from the far. You can, already, observe its tower from the intersection of Skārņu iela and Kaļķu iela in the south-west corner of Līvu Square (Līvu laukums).
Note: we don't think you have to pay the hefty entrance fee for getting a view of Riga. You may see better views from the National Latvian Library building west to the Daugava river (FREE) and from the Radisson Blu Hotel (FREE. No need to enter the Skyline restaurant. You get marvelous views from every high floor as well:
If you are still fit - make a final effort to see a gorgeous internal courtyard - several metres from the St. Peter's church - before returning to the Central Bus Station or your hotel. Head north on Reformācijas Laukums toward Skārņu iela and walk 85 m. north-east along Skārņu iela to see the Felicita
Restaurant at Skārņu iela 22 and its marvelous courtyard:
View of St. Peter's Church from Felicita Restaurant:
To return to Riga Bus Station or to Weelton Hotel and Spa: head southeast on Skārņu iela toward Jāņa sēta, 130 m. Turn left onto Audēju iela, 170 m. Here you see the retro-bicycle:
BTW: Saulkrasti Bicycle Museum, Rīgas iela 44 a, Saulkrasti is the only collection of old bicycles in Latvia. The home of bicycles! The development of the collection started in 1977. It contains the most technically interesting samples from the history of bicycle development found in Latvia. Opening hours: Apr - Sept, Monday - Sunday: 10.00 - 18.00. Turn right onto Vaļņu iela, 120 m to see Wellton Riga Hotel & SPA at Vaļņu iela 49.