city breaks, latvia, riga, travel

15 Things To Do in Old Town Riga

May 12, 2016

If you haven’t seen my list of 15 things to do in Riga, you should. I briefly skimmed over Old Town, because there’s so many things to do, it needed it’s own list.

1. See The House of BlackheadsThe House of Blackheads is probably the most iconic building in Riga. Originally built in 1334 as a meeting house where banquets were held for various public organisations including the most notable, the Brotherhood of Blackheads. Legend has it, one drunken night, the brotherhood brought home a tree from a forrest, they dressed the tree up and set it on fire and that is the story of how the Christmas tree came into existence.2. Go to the viewing platform at St Peter’s ChurchSt Peter’s Church has a viewing platform at the top where you can look out at Old Town from above. Although it’s chilly up there, the views are worth it.3. See the Cat HouseThe Cat House is another building in Old Town which has a similar history to The House of Blackheads and an equally intriguing story behind it. Legend has it the owner of the Cat House placed the cats at the top of their turrets with the anuses pointed at his arch nemesis, who lived adjacent. The nemesis took the owner to court and there is an official court order that states the cat anuses must be pointed away from the nemesis.4. Visit the Latvian War MuseumThe Powder Tower is the location of the Latvian War Museum, which homes 25,000 war artifacts including uniforms, documents, photographs and weapons making it the most extensive collection of war antiquities in Latvia.5. See the Swedish Gate (Picture taken from WikiCommons) The Swedish Gate is one of the only remaining structures from the Scandinavian occupation of the city. The apartment above belonged to the city’s executioner and he would hang a red rose on the window ledge above the gate the morning of an execution.

6. Visit the Museum of OccupationThe Museum of Occupation is one of the most informative museums in Riga where you can find out about the occupation of Latvia between World War 2, communism in Stalinist Russia up until their freedom in 1990.7. See the Three BrothersThe Three Brothers are a group of houses next to each other, each built in different centuries by members of the same family. It is an opportunity to see different styles and influences of architecture at once.8. Visit the Riga Cathedral and the Museum of the History of Riga and NavigationThe Riga Cathedral, otherwise known as the Dome Cathedral is the home of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, the oldest public museum in Latvia.9. Go to Dome SquareDome Square is one of the more impressive areas of Old Town, with beautiful street art and benches, umbrellas and tables set out in the summer. In the winter, it is eerily empty but still just as striking with the colours of the buildings against the pale grey sky.10. See Riga CastleLocated on the river bank, the Riga Castle has been home to large and small territories who held power. Today, it is the home of the Latvian president.

11. See the Riflemen MonumentThis controversial monument is a statue of the Latvian red riflemen, Lenin’s personal body guards. It is controversial as many Latvian’s believe it is a symbol of communism whereas others believe it is a tribute to those who fought in the first world war.

12. Take a walking tourThere are plenty of guides who will offer to take you on a walking tour of the city if you so desire. Most of them are fluent in English, Russian and German.

13. See the Laima Clock(Picture from Wikicommons) Famously this clock was the meeting place for workers so they wouldn’t be late for work. The ‘Laima’ symbol was the countries largest confectionary producer famous for their chocolate. Today it is a symbol for chocolate and for all the meetings that took place there since it was built in 1924.

14. Walk down Rozena StreetWalk down the narrowest street in Riga, Rozena street. Apparently you should be able to touch opposite walls with your hands at once, but I never found this to be true. Short girl problems.

15. Walk along the River Daugava The River Daugava is one long river that cuts through the city right past old town and flows into the Gulf of Riga. There’s no missing this river if you visit Riga. Walk along for some beautiful views and interesting stories including the story of Big Christopher.

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