Riga: sights to see

Top 24 Sightseeing in Riga

Riga, the heart of Latvia and its wonderful capital, is a city with a rich history spanning over 800 years, where the cobblestones of the past centuries are echoed in the streets and the gothic austerity delicately contrasts with the splendid art nouveau and heavy baroque. The center of Riga is full of architectural and historical sights, which everyone who decides to visit Riga rushes to see.

In this article we will tell about the main and most visited sights of Riga! Or, What to see, where to go in Riga!

The city is divided into old and new Riga. Old Riga is the historical center (Vecriga), which absorbed centuries of history. In this part of Riga is concentrated plenty of the most visited sights. Besides the main places of interest, Old Riga consists of cobblestone streets, churches and churches, squares and yards, plenty of various cafes, bars and restaurants, there are museums and theaters, as well as the Pride of Riga – Riga Castle.

The main sights of the old part of Riga (Vecriga)

Vecriga is situated on the right bank of the river Duagava and covers a comparatively small inner territory of the fortification system of 13-18th centuries with unique monuments of the medieval architecture.

Town Hall Square and the House of Blackheads

Ratslaukums (Town Hall Square) is one of the most famous and frequently visited squares in Riga’s historical center, with its invariable symbol – the Melngalvju Nams (Blackheads House). Town Hall Square is a three-story building with columns at the entrance, balcony and clock tower. And the center of the square is decorated by the recognizable symbol of Town Hall Square – the statue of Knight Roland Read more…

St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter’s Church (Sv. Pētera baznīca) is one of the oldest and most cultic buildings in the Baltic states, the symbol and the main attraction of Riga. St. Peter’s Cathedral is a valuable example of monumental medieval architecture. First of all, the church is famous for its original, widely recognizable spire. The total height of St. Peter’s tower is 123.5 meters, of which 64.5 meters are accounted for by the spire itself. St. Peter’s Church, at a height of 72 meters there is an observation deck, which can be climbed and from which there are great panoramic views of the entire old city.

At the back of the church is a famous monument to the Bremen musicians. Read more…

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Dome Cathedral

In the very heart of Old Riga is the largest square – Dome Square, in the center of which stands the symbol of Riga – Riga Dome Cathedral with its world famous organ. Not a single building in Riga can compare to the Dome Cathedral in age, scale, magnitude or attendance. It is the largest medieval cathedral in Baltics. Read more…

Apart from the Dome Cathedral there are cafes and restaurants in the open air, colorful gingerbread houses, majestic buildings of the medieval architecture and the Art Museum Read more…

Sherlock Holmes Street – Jauniela

Near Dome Square is one of the most picturesque streets of the old part of Riga, Jauniela Street. This small street, only 225 meters long, is the most cinematic street in Riga, where in the Soviet Union, when foreign countries were not available, filmmakers shot films if they wanted to show Europe in the frame. Thus in the famous series “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson” the street appeared as London’s Baker Street, and in the television series “Seventeen Moments of Spring” it was the Flower Street with its famous Flower Shop. Read more…

Liv Square

Compared to the other squares and architectural buildings in the old town, Liviv Square is a relatively new square. It was formed only in 1950 of the 20th century on the site of demolition of a part of the town building destroyed during World War II. The square has a set of 17-th century buildings, as well as along the perimeter of the square there are such attractions as: The Large and Small Guild Hall, the House of the Cat and the Russian Theater in Riga. Read more…

The Three Brothers” Architectural Complex

The Three Brothers in Riga is an architectural complex consisting of three wonderful, side by side and practically identical houses. Three Brothers” houses are a vivid example of medieval architecture of Riga, each of which was built in its own century. In addition, this is not only the oldest complex of buildings, these houses are still inhabited by people Read more…

St. James Cathedral

Riga’s St. Jacob’s Cathedral (Rīgas Svētā Jēkaba katedrāle) is the fourth largest church in Riga, located in the very center of the Old Town, just a stone’s throw from the Three Brothers historical architectural complex. This church is famous for its 80 meters high, slender tower with a green top, topped with a spire with a tip in the shape of a golden rooster. It is the only authentic Gothic tower in the city that has never changed its original appearance Read more…

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Jakovlevskie Barracks (Jekaba) and the city wall with Ramer tower

Jakovlevské barracks or Jekaba barracks (Ekaba kazarmas) is a complex of low yellow buildings stretching along the Torņa Street. Jekaba barracks were built at the end of the 17th century for Swedish soldiers who defended the city from enemies invading from the north-east. Nowadays Jakovlevské Barracks is no longer used for its intended purpose, but houses souvenir shops, stores, offices, cafes, pubs and restaurants, as well as institutions and representative offices of Latvian cities.

On the opposite side from the barracks of Jekaba is a part of the wall – a fragment of the former Riga city fortification, in the center of which is the defensive quadrangular Ramer Tower. In the center of the square tower is the so-called Ramer’s Tower, and the wall was previously used as a defensive fortification of the city of Riga. Read more…

The Powder Tower

The Powder Tower (Pulvertornis) is the oldest and the only preserved tower of this kind in Riga. Originally Powder Tower was called the Sand Tower, and it was built in 1330. The tower was called the Sand Tower because it covered the entrance to the city from the Great Sand Road.

The tower was given its present-day name only in the 17th century, after the gunpowder had been stored there. At present time the Military Museum of Latvia is situated in the tower. Read more…

Courtyards of Konventa seta and Jana seta

Konventa seta and Jaņa seta are small courtyards located behind St. Peter’s Cathedral, between Skārņu and Kalēju Streets. Both courtyards are architectural monuments and are located next to each other so that you can pass from one to the other. Between the two courtyards stands a low wall and an arched gate. Read more…

Riga Castle

Riga Castle (Rīgas pils) is one of the most outstanding elements and an architectural and historical complex of the classical city of Riga. For several hundred years the castle was the residence of the secular power in the city. After the Republic of Latvia regained its independence in 1991, the castle became the official residence and the main working place of the President of Latvia. Because of that the castle was called the Presidential Palace. Read more…

The Vanšu Bridge and Embankment of the Daugava River

The Vanšu Tilts pontoon bridge is a highway bridge that connects the two banks of the Daugava. This bridge has not only practical value, it offers good panoramic views of Riga, including the Riga Castle. On the right side of the river from the bridge starts a promenade that runs along the heart of the Vecriga.

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The main sights outside Riga’s Old Town are

Freedom Monument and Lime Clock

The Freedom Monument (Brivibas piemineklis) stands in the very center of the square of the same name, decorating not only the square, but also the surrounding area. It is one of the central tourist attractions of Riga and a symbol of Latvia’s independence.

Laima Clock (Laimas pulkstenis) is located near the Freedom Monument. They were established in 1924. At the beginning it was just a municipal clock that was purely practical for the inhabitants not to be late for work, and only in the 30s of last century, the clock bears the logo of the famous confectionery factory “Laima”. Read more…

The Bastion Hill and the Latvian National Opera

The name Bastejkalns (Bastejkalns) is used to describe the Bastejkalns Hill. Nowadays it is a green square (in summer), very romantic and one of the most beautiful places in the center of Riga. The Bastejkalns itself is an artificial mound, on top of which is a work of art, consisting of a number of benches of different heights.

In the center of the Bastion Hill is the Riga city canal, which once served as a defensive moat along the city. At present the canal has been landscaped, and on both sides it has extensive green areas, narrow paths for strollers, and in the canal itself there are ducks swimming. In the summertime, the canal is navigated by pleasure boats.

The square around the Bastejkalns is visually divided into two parts, one of which is the Bastejkalns itself, but the other is the opera square and the building of the Latvian National Opera and Ballet. Read more…

The pearl of Art Nouveau – Alberta and Elizabetes Streets

In the capital of Latvia there are about 800-th buildings constructed in the German Art Nouveau style, and it is no less than, almost a third of the central part of the city. Therefore, practically everywhere in the center of Riga you can find Art Nouveau buildings.

However, the greatest and most striking embodiment of Art Nouveau was found on Elizabetes and Alberta Streets, as well as in the building of the Latvian National Museum of Art (Latvijas Nacionālais mākslas muzejs). Read more…

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Latvian Academy of Art

Latvian Academy of Art

The Academy of Art in Riga, due to its neo-Gothic appearance, can rightfully be considered a landmark. The Latvian Academy of Art is a state institution of higher education founded in 1919 by one of the first Latvian professional artists, Vilhelms Purvītis. The building of the Academy was built in 1905 according to the design of the architect V. Bockslaff.

Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral

Rīgas Kristus Piedzimšanas pareizticīgo katedrāle

This Orthodox church is not only an ornament of “New Riga”, but also the largest orthodox temple in the city. During the Soviet times there was a planetarium and a restaurant here, but after the restoration of independence the cathedral was restored. The Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ is located near the Vecrīga, in the Esplanāde Park, where there is also an art museum and the Academy of Arts.

The creative quarters of Riga – Spīķeri and Kalnciema

The Spikeri neighborhood is home to more than a dozen cultural and creative groups. A promenade along the Daugava River runs near the quarter. Together they are part of the historical center of Riga, which is included in the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.

In contrast to the neighborhood Spīķeri, Kalnciema Street is a corner of the modern city built with wooden houses, which is also known as the wooden architecture of Riga. Read more…

Latvian Academy of Sciences

The Latvian Academy of Sciences is the highest scientific institution founded in 1946. It unites more than 300 scientists not only of Latvian Republic, but also scientists from other countries in the field of natural, engineering, social sciences and humanities. In the building of the Academy of Sciences there is an observation deck (circular terrace), to which, for a fee, you can climb and admire a 360-degree panorama of Riga.

Next to the Academy of Sciences, you can visit the Riga Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Rīgas Dievmātes Pasludināšanas baznīca), which is a historic architectural monument.

Riga Old St. Gertrude’s Church

Rīgas Vecā Svētās Ģertrūdes Evaņģēliski luteriskā baznīca

In the Christian world, St. Gertrude is known as the patroness of all travelers. Already in the Middle Ages, the church outside the defensive walls of Riga was named after St. Gertrude. In those times, the church at the entrance to the city allowed the belated travelers, who reached Riga’s walls after dark and found themselves at the locked city gates, to thank God for a successful journey.

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Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter or the Jewish Ghetto of Riga is where the Jews were evacuated during World War II. The Jewish Quarter occupies virtually the entire area of School Street. Unfortunately, according to many experts, there is nothing left of the Jewish heritage in Riga except the places where they were exterminated.

Vērman Park

Vērmanes Garden (Vērmanes dārzs) is considered to be the oldest park in Riga. In the park are collected rare species of plants, equipped with paths for walking, playground, places for rest, wooden stage, there is a fountain, sculptures, as well as an elite restaurant BIBLIOTĒKA №1. There are flower shops near the park, on the side of Tērbatas iela.

Berga Bazaar

Berga Bazaar (Berga Bazārs) is a historical pedestrian quarter consisting of an ensemble of several buildings that have preserved the centuries-old power of the architectural complex built at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A hundred years ago Berga Bazaar was one of the leading centers of economic and cultural life in Latvia.

Nowadays Berga Bazaar has become an elite shopping complex – an international shopping center, reflecting the diversity of economic and cultural life in Riga. At present the quarter is fully pedestrian and includes Riga’s most notable boutiques, salons, passages, cafes, restaurants, offices, bank branches, a 5-star boutique hotel Hotel Bergs, a sports complex and a health center, as well as a cinema Read more…

Riga Central Market

The Riga Central Market is the best known and the largest market in Riga. It was established in 1930, and since that time it has been reliably supplying fresh food and food products to Riga’s inhabitants and guests. In addition to the quality and variety of products presented at the market, it is also famous for its architecture. It is famous for its location in large, semicircular pavilions that used to serve as storage hangars for airships. Read more…

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