Explore Great Places and Amazing Architecture in Latvia

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1 Cesis-Castle-LettlandLatvia lies in Northern Europe, is one of three Baltic States, bordered by Lithuania to the south, Belarus to the south-east, Russia to the east, Estonia to the north and the Baltic Sea to the west. Regions of Latvia include Kurzeme, Latgale, Zemgale, Vidzeme and Riga region.
The country boasts one of the longest sand beaches in Europe. The coast southwards from Liepaja is listed as the best natural beach. During the months July and August the water is warmer and perfect for spending some time in the clean water. Jūrmala is a popular holiday resort town offering an amazing beach and spas.
Almost half of Latvia is covered with forests. Most of the country is composed of lowland plains and moderate hills, but there are deep river valleys in the Latgale region. Latvia is home to more than 12,500 rivers, including Salaca, Venta, Gauja, Lielupe and the Daugava River.
Common species of wildlife in Latvia include fox, bear, lynx, deer, wild boar, moose, beaver and wolves. The country is known for its long tradition of conservation and is home to forty-two nature parks, including Gauja National Park in Vidzeme, Rāzna National Park in Latgale, Slītere National Park in Kurzeme and Kemeri National Park in Zemgale.

Fortress of Daugavpils

Fortress of Daugavpils

Latgale has its own unique culture and language. This region lies north of the Daugava River in the easternmost region. The largest city in this region, and also the second largest in the country, is Daugavpils. Daugavpils International Airport is located north-east of the city in close proximity to the village of Lociki. The unique Classicism-style Fortress of Daugavpils can be considered the symbol of the city. Russia’s tsar consecrated the fortress in 1833 and in later years the Soviet and Latvian armies were stationed here. At present the fortress is a cultural and historical monument.
Ensure to visit the Daugavpils Local Arts and History Museum where you can appreciate the Classicism-style red brick house which has been preserved at 8 Riga Street. The historical center of the city is of national importance and an architectural heritage with its red clay bricked walls known as Latgale baroque.
Saints Boris and Gleb Cathedral

Saints Boris and Gleb Cathedral

The Orthodox Church in Daugavpils, Saints Boris and Gleb Cathedral, was built in the Neo-Russian style with ten towers and gilded cupolas. The three-aisled masonry church is situated in Jaunbūve, a neighborhood on Church Hill. You can also admire the interior of the church with its beautiful ceiling pieces and murals.
Explore the Capital of Latvia – Riga
The capital of the country, Riga, is a World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination. You can experience the winding cobblestoned lanes, Jugendstil architecture and many church towers in the old quarter of the city. The city has a strong contrast between old and new and a great blend of Latvian and Russian cultures.
Riga is located on the Gulf of Riga at the mouth of the Daugava River and is the largest city in the Baltic States. The 368 meter TV Tower is a well-known landmark in the city and is the tallest structure in the Baltic States. Riga is famous for its Nouveau and Jugendstil architecture.
House of the Blackheads

House of the Blackheads

House of Blackheads (Rātslaukums 7, Rīga) was bombed in 1941 and reconstructed from 1995 to 1999. The Brotherhood of Blackheads, a guild for unmarried German tradesmen in the city, originally occupied the building during the early 1400s. Most of the ornaments were added in the years 1580 and 1886.
Mikhail Eisenstein was a graduate of Saint Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering and he also designed around eight-hundred art nouveau buildings in the period from 1857 to 1914. Most of these buildings can be found in the central part of Riga.
Alberta and Elizabetes streets offer great examples of Art Noveau buildings designed by architect Eisenstein, well-known for his unique style.
The Three Brothers are the oldest dwelling houses in Riga and can be viewed at numbers 17, 19 and 21 Mazā Pils iela.
The Three Brothers

The Three Brothers

One of the houses is an architecture museum. The house at 17 Mazā Pils Street was built in the late fifteenth century and the houses at 19 and 21 Mazā Pils Street are younger. Three Brothers represent different development stages of medieval dwellings in the period when houses were built on narrow plots of land.
Freedom Monument at 1 Brividas iela is one of the national symbols and the lady holding three stars at the top of the structure represents Latvia’s freedom. Ensure to visit the Laima Clock south of the Freedom Monument.
Laima is well-established and well-regarded Latvian chocolate manufacturing company. Laima refers to happiness and luck. Explore the tempting taste of Lukss milk chocolates with nut and wafer cream filling, Maigums Zephyr in Chocolate with Raspberry Crisps or Mon Ami in Dark Chocolate. The chocolate museum shows how Laima products are made and displays a century old doll made of chocolate.
Other great places to see in Riga include:
• St. Peter’s Church, 19 Skarnu iela, phone: +371 67229426, the oldest church in Riga, dating to 1209
• Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, 1 Strelnieku laukums, phone: +371 67212715
• Porcelain Museum, 9 Kalēju iela, exhibits the history of porcelain from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century
• Sun Museum, 30 Vaļņu iela, phone: +371 67225587 – a rather unusual museum that covers the history of the sun mythology.
Riga Orthodox Cathedral in Esplanade Park

Riga Orthodox Cathedral in Esplanade Park

One of the significant places to visit in Riga is the Esplanade Park with the National Museum of Art and the Riga Orthodox Cathedral. The park was designed by Georg Kuphaldt who was officially forced to leave Germany because of a telescope in his garden. The cathedral is one of Riga’s symbols and dates back to 1207. The interior is Spartan and the 6768-pipe organ is stunning.
Maskavas forštate, also referred to as the Moscow Suburb, offers beautiful old wooden houses, the Choral Great Synagogue at Gogola and Dzimavu iela, Russian Orthodox Church of the Annunciation at 9 Gogola iela and Latvian Academy of Sciences, also known as Stalin’s Birthday Cake.
For an organized tour of Riga, you can contact Grand Riga Tour and explore Art Nouveau district, Old Town, Spikeri district, Āgenskalns and Kalnciema Quarter, Kipsala peninsula and the Central Market. You can contact Grand Riga Tour at +371 29787307.
Other Great Tourist Destinations in Latvia
7 Traditional dancers in LatviaExplore modern art and installations in a nature park at Open Air Art Museum in close proximity to Sabile in the Kurzeme region. Experience the biggest water attraction in Northern Europe at Livu Akvaparks. You can also experience the traditional culture of Latvian tribes near Riga at Latvijas Etnografiskais Brivdabas Muzejs.
For a true prison experience you can visit the Karostas cietums in the Karosta suburb of Liepaja. You can stay the night in prison and watch a live prison show.
Visa Requirements for Latvia
Documents required when applying for a short-stay visa to enter Latvia include the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Latvia application form (filled in and signed), 1 passport photo, travel document (valid 3 months after the return from Latvia & at least 2blank pages left for the sticker), travel health/accident insurance for the whole period of your stay in Latvia, hotel reservation and bank statements from the last 3 months.

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One Response to “Explore Great Places and Amazing Architecture in Latvia”

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