Riga – Latvia

Riga, Latvia

St. Peterskerk en het Zwarthoofdenhuis

St. Peterskerk en het Zwarthoofdenhuis

With Easter 2015 we leave in the evening with the whole family towards Riga. It is for the children the first time in an airplane so quite exciting. Fortunately it is not dark yet and only half cloudy when we leave so there is something to watch. The mouths open when the plane rises above the clouds. It is a beautiful world up there.

After 2 hours of flying we land in a rainy and dark Riga. With a taxi, we were dropped off to the Hotel Radi Un Draugian the Mārstaļu iela in the heart of Riga. We drop our suitcases and at this late hour we go into town for a quick bite, that will be the Big M.

The next morning

We get up and enjoy a fantastic breakfast. Unfortunately it is raining. We have no umbrellas so we first have to score two because we want to explore the city today. We walk first to the 123m high St. Peters Church. Here we go with a lift into the steeple where we enjoy in the cold a beautiful view of the city and the river Western Dvina. In front of the church is a bronze statue of the Bremen Town Musicians donated by the city of Bremen as a sign of solidarity as a Hanseatic city.

From the St. Peters Church it is only a short distance to the Raadhuisplein where the striking House of the Blackheads is located. These buildings were destroyed during the war but completely rebuilt.

From the Town Hall Square we walk via the back of the Dome Church, the Palasta iela, to the Dome Square. Because it is early, it is still quiet here. Later in the day there is a lot more life. We immediately turn left and walk via the Pils iela towards the Virgin of Anguish Church to the river. Here is the image of the Great Christopher in a glass display cabinet. On the river we have a beautiful view of the Vansu cable-stayed bridge with a number of modern buildings on the other side. It is windy and cold so we do not stay on the water for too long and turn around the city again.

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De Grote Christoffel en de Vansu brug

We walk to the Pils Laukum where the old castle is located. A little further we arrive at the Three  Brothers. Three beautiful façade panels. Then we go via the St. Jacobskerk to the Swedish Gate. In itself it was not particularly true that the story goes that a girl here secretly agreed with a Swedish soldier. When they found out, the girl was bricked in here. At night you should be able to hear the girl cry. Now the gate is a place to settle for happiness.

When we pass the gate we arrive at the old barracks. Now all kinds of shops are located here. At the end of the barracks is the Powder Tower. Here is now the War Museum. Then we walk towards the Luviplein, a cozy square with terraces and a few large shops. The cat house (cat on the roof) and the old wooden guild house are also allowed.

We drink something on the covered terrace at the Luviplein. Then we head for the Bastejkalna park where the Pilsenas Canal winds through. We turn left into the park where we end up at the lock bridge. Thousands of clasps made by couples in love sit at the bridge. The park is still a nice quiet place in the city after the winter.

Through the park we arrive at the congress center at the Kalpaka bulvāris. Here is a mini-pyramid and behind it the Kronvalda park full of statues. The fountains are unfortunately still dry. Finally we arrive at the Elizabetes iela. Here on the corner with the Kronvalda parks we eat a bite first. We are now on the edge of the district with the beautiful Art Nouveau buildings. After dinner we immediately walk into the Alberta iela. Here are the most beautiful buildings. But at the end we turn right and then again into the Elizabeth iela, then there are beautiful buildings everywhere.

If we go through a piece, we automatically arrive at the Esplanade. Another park with the highlight of the beautiful orthodox Nativity Cathedral. it is a beautiful building with lots of detail and golden smuk inside. It seems to be the largest Orthodox cathedral of the Baltic States. Here it also immediately breathes the Russian spheres. We see that the faith is very deep with a number of visitors.

From the cathedral we walk back to the old center and arrive at the 42m high freedom monument. This is an important place in the city but the guards are not to be seen. Then we dive into some shops and close the evening with a delicious dinner.

Another day

Tonight we have to go home again but for that time I still have something on the program. I want to see just a bit more of Latvia than the center that has been funded by subsidies. So we rent a few bikes and go on the road. From the landlord we have received a ticket with a route and it fits with what we want. I get a little bit of a quest.

First we cross the river via the Vansu cable-stayed bridge and enter the Kipsala neighborhood at the bottom right. Here are still beautiful old wooden houses. The smooth boulders are not really ideal for cycling, but still. Then we dive further into the neighborhood. We pass a beautiful Orthodox church in blue, wooden houses and boring typical Eastern blo residences. It is very nice but cold on the bike.

Finally we arrive at Uzvaras Park where the Colossal Victorial Monument of the Russian Army is located. A real souvenir from the Russian era. We continue our journey towards the river and arrive at the railway museum where a number of beautiful old locomotives can be admired. Here too, the Soviet influence is visible. A little further is the ultra modern building of the National Library. We stop for a photo but the cold is really starting to crawl into the toes. So quickly back to the old city, looking for a cup of coffee. Then we deliver the bikes.

Well what remains? The market halls behind the station of course. Here in this old Zeppelin factory you come across the real poorer Riga. Embarrassed people wander through these halls due to cold and poverty. Here is the bottle of vodka under the counter. Here all products for daily life are for sale. But salmon and caviar are also abundant.

If we continue through these market halls, we arrive in the old Russian quarter that was inhabited mainly by thousands of Jews before the war. Here we see a completely different Riga. Boring buildings and poverty.

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Huge is the building of the academy of Science (photo right) and a sad climax here is the old destroyed synagogue where in the Second World War Jews were burned alive. An impressive monument about this with a personally written German letter of apology. This made a deep impression on the children.

Time to go back to the hotel. Tackle suitcases, call a taxi and then again on the way to the airport. We look back on 2 beautiful days in which we have seen a lot and have gained special impressions.