latvia, riga, travel

Latvian Academy of Sciences vs St Peter’s Church

February 24, 2016

The Latvian Academy of Sciences, nicknamed ‘Stalin’s Birthday Cake’ by locals, is a 107-metre highrise in Central Riga and one of the more notable examples of Stalinist architecture in Latvia. Originally intended to be Kolkhoz workers building, a hotel or a dormitory for farm workers, the building was instead turned into an academy for scientists, researchers and historians.

On the 17th floor there is a viewing platform for tourists where they can look out at the magnificent views of Riga for €4.St Peter’s Church is a striking building in Old Town, prone to burning to the ground. Pay a fee of €9 to see the viewing platform at the top and look out at the views of Old Town.So how do these buildings compare?From St Peter’s Church you get up-close views of Old Town, the Daugava River and the Central Market. Unfortunately, you also get a view of the Latvian Academy of Sciences which is not the most attractive building ever and creates somewhat of a blot in the skyline.Luckily, the views from the Academy are much better without the ugliest building in Riga, you’re standing on top of the thing after all!

Personally I would recommend visiting the Academy over St Peter’s Church for four reasons: It’s cheaper, it’s quieter, it’s warmer and the views are better (personal opinion).There’s little space to move on top of St Peter’s Church as it is a small space and usually full of tourists – even in the winter months. The viewing platform at the Academy was empty and there was a lot of space to move around, even if it were full as I could imagine it being during the summer.One more thing to note is that there are bars in the way of the views in St Peter’s Church, an excellent safety precaution but you’ll have to say goodbye to those dreams of getting a selfie by the views because it ain’t happening here. The Academy of Science, however, has an open view of Old Town and beyond. Perfect for selfies if you wish to get them.In defence of St Peter’s Church, it is a lot easier to get to than the Academy is. If you’re staying in Old Town I wouldn’t bother heading out to the Science Academy simply to save time but if you’re there for a number of days and want to make the most of it, the Latvian Academy of Sciences cannot be missed.

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