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—  City  —
Riga old town skyline
Riga old town skyline.


Riga is located in Latvia
Coordinates: 56°56′56″N 24°6′23″E / 56.94889°N 24.10639°E / 56.94889; 24.10639Coordinates: 56°56′56″N 24°6′23″E / 56.94889°N 24.10639°E / 56.94889; 24.10639
Country  Latvia
Government [1]
 - Type City council
 - Mayor Nils Ušakovs
Area (2002) [2]
 - City 307.17 km2 (118.6 sq mi)
 - Water 48.50 km2 (18.7 sq mi)  15.8%
 - Metro 10,132 km2 (3,912 sq mi)
Population (2010[3]
 - City 709,145
 Density 2,308.6/km2 (5,979.4/sq mi)
 Metro 1,098,523 (Riga Region)
 - Metro Density 108.3/km2 (280.5/sq mi)
 - Demonym Rīdzinieki
Ethnicity (2009) [4]
 - Latvians 42.3 %
 - Russians 41.0 %
 - Belarusians 4.1 %
 - Ukrainians 3.9 %
 - Poles 2.0 %
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Calling codes 66 & 67
Riga seen from Spot Satellite

Riga (Latvian: Rīga, pronounced [riːɡa]( listen)) is the capital and largest city of Latvia, a major industrial, commercial, cultural and financial centre of the Baltics, and an important seaport, situated on the mouth of the Daugava. With 709,145 inhabitants (2010)[5] it is the largest city of the Baltic states and third-largest in the Baltic region, behind Saint Petersburg and Stockholm (counting residents within the city limits). Riga's territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies between 1 and 10 metres (3.3 and 33 ft) above sea level,[6] on a flat and sandy plain.[6]

Riga's historical centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city is particularly notable for its extensive Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) architecture, which UNESCO considers to be unparalleled anywhere in the world.[7]



The bank of the Daugava river
The Riga skyline in the mid-16th century, Cosmographia Universalis

Founding of Riga

The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings' Dvina-Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium.[8] A sheltered natural harbour 15 km (9.3 mi) upriver from the mouth of the Daugava — the site of today's Riga — has been recorded, as Duna Urbs, as early as the 2nd century.[8] It was subsequently settled by the Livs, an ancient Finnic tribe,[9] later also the Kurs.

Riga began to develop as a centre of Viking trade during the early Middle Ages.[8] Riga's inhabitants occupied themselves mainly with fishing, animal husbandry, and trading, later developing crafts (in bone, wood, amber, and iron).[8]

The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia (Chronicle) testifies to Riga having long been a trading centre by the 12th century, referring to it as portus antiquus (ancient port), and describes dwellings and warehouses used to store mostly corn, flax, and hides.[8] German traders began visiting Riga, establishing a nearby outpost in 1158.

One theory for the origin of the name Riga is that it is a corrupted borrowing from the Liv ringa meaning loop, referring to the ancient natural harbour formed by the tributary loop of the Daugava.[9][10] The other is that Riga owes its name to this already-established role in commerce between East and West,[11] as a borrowing of the Latvian rija, for warehouse, the "j" becoming a "g" in German — notably, Riga is called Rie by English geographer Richard Hakluyt (1589),[8][12] and German historian Dionysius Fabricius (1610) confirms the origin of Riga from rija[8][13]. Another theory could be that Riga was named after Riege, the German name for the River Rīdzene, a tributary of the Daugava.

Along with German traders also arrived the monk Meinhard of Segeberg[11] to convert the pagans to Christianity. (Catholic and Orthodox Christianity had already arrived in Latvia more than a century earlier, and many Latvians baptised.[8][11]) Meinhard settled among the Livs, building a castle and church at Ikšķile, upstream from Riga, and established his bishopric there.[11] The Livs, however, continued to practice paganism and Meinhard died in Ikšķile in 1196, having failed his mission.[14] In 1198 the Bishop Bertold arrived with a contingent of crusaders[14] and commenced a campaign of forced Christianization.[8][11] Bertold was shortly killed and his forces defeated.[14]

The Church mobilised to avenge. Pope Innocent III issued a bull declaring a crusade against the Livonians.[14] Bishop Albert was proclaimed Bishop of Livonia by his uncle Hartwig of Uthlede, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen and Hamburg in 1199. Albert landed in Riga in 1200[8][14] with 23 ships[15] and 500 Westphalian crusaders.[16] In 1201 he transferred the seat of the Livonian bishopric from Ikšķile to Riga, extorting agreement to do so from the elders of Riga by force.[8]

Under Bishop Albert

1201 also marked the first arrival of German merchants in Novgorod, via the Dvina.[17] To defend territory[18] and trade, Albert established the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1202, open to nobles and merchants.[17]

Christianization of the Livs continued. 1207 marked Albert's start on fortification of the town.[17][19] Emperor Philip's invested Albert with Livonia as a fief[20] and principality of the Holy Roman Empire.[8] To promote a permanent military presence, territorial ownership was divided between the Church and the Order, with the Church taking Riga and two thirds of all lands conquered and granting the Order a third.[21] Until then, it had been customary for crusaders to serve for a year and then return home.[21]

Albert had ensured Riga's commercial future by obtaining papal bulls which decreed that all German merchants had to carry on their Baltic trade through Riga.[21] In 1211, Riga minted its first coinage,[8] and Albert laid the cornerstone for the Riga Dom.[22] Riga was not yet secure as an alliance of tribes failed to take Riga.[21] In 1212, Albert led a campaign to compel Polotsk to grant German merchants free river passage.[17] Polotsk conceded Kukenois (Koknese) and Jersika to Albert, also ending the Livs' tribute to Polotsk.[23]

Riga's merchant citizenry chafed and sought greater autonomy from the Church. In 1221 they acquired the right to independently self-administer Riga.[18] and adopted a city constitution[24]

That same year Albert was compelled to recognize Danish rule over lands they had conquered in Estonia and Livonia.[25] Albert had sought the aid of King Valdemar of Denmark to protect Riga and Livonian lands against Liv insurrection when reinforcements could not reach Riga. The Danes landed in Livonia, built a fortress at Reval (Tallinn), and set about conquering Estonian and Livonian lands. The Germans attempted, but failed, to assassinate Valdemar.[26] Albert was able to reach an accommodation a year later, however, and in 1222 Valdemar returned all Livonian lands and possessions to Albert's control.[27]

Albert's difficulties with Riga's citizenry continued; with papal intervention, a settlement was reached in 1225 whereby they no longer had to pay tax to the Bishop of Riga,[28] and Riga's citizens acquired the right to elect their magistrates and town councilors.[28] In 1226, Albert consecrated the Dom Cathedral,[8] built St. James's Church,[8] and founding a parochial school at the Church of St. George[11].

In 1227, Albert conquered Oesel [29] and the city of Riga concluded a treaty with the Principality of Smolensk giving Polotsk to Riga.[30]

Albert died in January, 1229.[31] He failed his aspiration to be anointed archbishop[20] but the German hegemony he established over the Baltics would last for seven centuries.[21]

Hanseatic League

In 1282 Riga became a member of the Hanseatic League. The Hansa was instrumental in giving Riga economic and political stability, thus providing the city with a strong foundation which endured the political conflagrations that were to come, down to modern times.

Riga in 1650. The inscription reads: Prospect der Stadt Riga ums Jahr 1650 (View at the City of Riga in the year 1650). Drawing by Johann Christoph Brotze

As the influence of the Hansa waned, Riga became the object of foreign military, political, religious and economic aspirations. Riga accepted the Reformation in 1522, ending the power of the archbishops. In 1524, a venerated statue of the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral was denounced as a witch, and given a trial by water in the Daugava River. The statue floated, so it was denounced as a witch and burnt at Kubsberg.[32] With the demise of the Teutonic Knights in 1561, Riga for twenty years had the status of a Free Imperial City, then in 1581, Riga came under the influence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1621 Riga and the outlying fortress of Daugavgriva came under the rule of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who intervened in the Thirty Years' War not only for political and economic gain but also in favour of German Lutheran Protestantism. During the Russo-Swedish War, 1656-1658, Riga withstood a siege by Russians. Riga remained the largest city in Sweden until 1710 during a period in which the city retained a great deal of self-government autonomy. In that year, in the course of Great Northern War, Russia under Tsar Peter the Great invaded Riga. Sweden's northern dominance ended, and Russia's emergence as the strongest Northern power was formalised through the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. Riga was annexed by Russia after the Capitulation of Estonia and Livonia in 1710 and became an industrialised port city of the Russian empire, where it remained until World War I. By 1900, Riga was the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and Saint Petersburg in terms of numbers of industrial workers.[citation needed]

German troops entering Riga during World War I.

During these many centuries of war and changes of power in the Baltic, the Baltic Germans in Riga remained in their dominant position despite demographic changes. By 1867 Riga's population was 42.9% German.[33] Riga employed German as its official language of administration until the imposition of Russian language in 1891 as the official language in the Baltic provinces. Latvians began to supplant Germans as the largest ethnic group in the city in the mid-19th century. The rise of a Latvian bourgeoisie made Riga a centre of the Latvian National Awakening with the founding of the Riga Latvian Association in 1868 and the organisation of the first national song festival in 1873. The nationalist movement of the Young Latvians was followed by the socialist New Current during the city's rapid industrialisation, culminating in the 1905 Revolution led by the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party.

The 20th century brought World War I and the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to Riga. The German army marched into Riga in 1917. In 1918 the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed giving the Baltic countries to Germany. Because of the Armistice with Germany of November 11, 1918, Germany had to renounce that treaty, as did Russia, leaving Latvia and the other Baltic States in a position to claim independence. Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, thus declared its independence on November 18, 1918.

A view of Riga on a postcard. circa 1900.

Between World War I and World War II (1918–1940), Riga and Latvia shifted their focus from Russia to the countries of Western Europe. The United Kingdom and Germany replaced Russia as Latvia's major trade partners.

During World War II, Latvia was occupied first by the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then by Nazi Germany in 1941-1944. The Baltic Germans were forcibly repatriated to Germany. The city's Jewish community was forced into Riga ghetto and concentration camps were constructed in Kaiserwald and the city of Salaspils.

In 1945 Latvia was once again occupied by the Red Army. As a result of the war Latvia lost approximately one-third of its population.[citation needed] Forced industrialisation and planned[citation needed] large-scale immigration of large numbers of non-Latvians from other Soviet republics into Riga, particularly Russians, changed the demographic composition of Riga.

The policy of economic reform, introduced in 1986 as Perestroika, led to dissolution of the Soviet Union and restoration of independent Latvia in 1991. Latvia formally joined the United Nations as an independent country on September 17, 1991. In 2004 Latvia joined both NATO and the European Union.

In 2004, the arrival of low-cost airlines resulted in cheaper flights from other European cities such as London and Berlin and consequently a substantial increase in numbers of tourists.[34]


Historic Centre of Riga*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Old Town of Riga
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii
Reference 852
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1997  (21st Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.



The Powder Tower of Riga
Left-bank Riga is distinguished by its green streets and large parks.

The city of Riga consists of six administrative regions, four of which are named after regions of Latvia - Kurzeme district, Latgale suburb, Vidzeme suburb, Zemgale suburb. There is also a Central District and a Northern district. Residents, however, divide Riga into residential neighbourhoods called micro regions. Unlike the city centre, they are mostly residential although they are equipped with commercial sectors.

  • Āgenskalns - Left bank, old neighbourhood, mainly built in late 19th — early 20th century.
  • Andrejsala - An emerging art, culture and entertainment district, located within former territory of the industrial port.
  • Beberbeķi - A neighbourhood consisting mainly of private houses, it lies on the western edge of the city. The swampy forest Mukupurvs and Riga Airport noise area separate it from the rest of the city.
  • Bolderāja - Left bank, northernmost neighbourhood. The 18th-century fort built by Peter the Great is one of the oldest buildings in this part of the city.
  • Čiekurkalns - Right bank, old neighbourhood.
  • Dārzciems - Right bank, mainly consists of one or two-storey private houses.
  • Dreiliņi - A newly built neighbourhood in the eastern part of the city.
  • Dzirciems - Left bank, south of Iļģuciems.
  • Iļģuciems - Left bank, north of Āgenskalns.
  • Imanta - Left bank, newly built neighbourhood.
  • Jugla - Right bank, large neighbourhood, lies just west of lake Juglas.
  • Ķengarags - Right bank, south-east of city centre. One of the most populous neighbourhoods in town.
  • Ķīpsala - island located just west of the Old Town. Home to the Press Office and Exhibition Hall.
  • Maskavas Forštate - located south of the city centre.
  • Mežaparks - Right bank, consists largely of private houses. Notable for its large forest-like park including the Esplanade where the Folk Song Festival is held and also the city zoo.
  • Mežciems - Right bank, just east of the large Biķernieku forest.
  • Pārdaugava - City's part, situated on Daugava's left bank, meaning "across Daugava", also particularly the neighbourhoods along the water, Āgenskalns and Torņakalns.
  • Pleskodāle - A neighbourhood consisting mostly of private houses on the west side of the city. It borders Zolitūde and Šampēteris neighbourhoods.
  • Pļavnieki - Right bank, one of the town's most populous neighbourhoods.
  • Purvciems - Right bank, one of the town's most populous neighbourhoods.
  • Sarkandaugava - Right bank, east of the small river with the same name.
  • Šampēteris - An old neighbourhood on the left bank of Daugava, with many houses built in the first part of 20th century still surviving.
  • Šmerlis - Right bank, more of a forest than a neighbourhood, it is home to Riga's Cinema Studio.
  • Torņakalns - Left bank, old neighbourhood known for the Māras pond.
  • Vecmīlgrāvis - Right bank, cut off from the mainland by a small river, Mīlgrāvis.
  • Vecrīga - Old Town.
  • Ziepniekkalns - Left bank, consists both of old and new buildings.
  • Zolitūde - Left bank, another newly-built neighbourhood, just south of Imanta.

Some common factors in these place names are "vec-" meaning old [vecs], "-kalns" meaning hill, "-ciems" meaning hamlet, "-sala" meaning island and "mež-" meaning forest [mežs].

Panorama over Riga from Latvian Academy of Sciences


The climate of Riga is humid continental (Koppen Dfb). The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature is −5 °C (23 °F) but temperatures as low as −20 °C (−4 °F) to −25 °C (−13 °F) can be observed almost every year on the coldest days. The proximity of the sea causes frequent autumn rains and fogs. Continuous snow cover may last eighty days. The summers in Riga are warm and humid with the average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F), while the temperature on the hottest days usually exceed 30 °C (86 °F).

Climate data for Riga
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) -2.3
Average low °C (°F) -7.8
Precipitation mm (inches) 34
Source: World Weather Information Service [35] 11.11.2008


The logo for the city of Riga, designed for its 800th anniversary.

Business and leisure travel to Riga have increased significantly in recent years because of improved infrastructure. Most tourists travel to Riga by air via Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic states, which was renovated and modernised in 2001 on the occasion of Riga's 800th anniversary. In the near future, the face of Riga will undergo notable changes. The construction of a new landmark—the Latvian National Library building—began in the autumn of 2007 and is due to be complete by 2010.[36] Currently discussions are underway in Riga council about the development of the central areas on the left bank of the Daugava. The major dispute surrounds plans to build skyscrapers in Ķīpsala, which UNESCO warned "could seriously endanger the status of the Historic Centre of Riga as a World Heritage Site."[37] The construction of 3 buildings in Ķīpsala has already started — the Da Vinci complex (25 floors) and two high-rises called Z-Towers (30 floors).[38][39] Almost all important Latvian financial institutions are located in Riga, including the Bank of Latvia, which is Latvia's central bank. Foreign commercial trade through Riga has been on the increase in recent years and received new impetus on May 1, 2004 when Latvia became a member of the European Union. Riga accounts for about half of the total industrial output of Latvia, focusing on the financial sector, public utilities, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, wood processing, printing and publishing, textiles and furniture, and communications equipment manufacturing. More than 50% of Latvian companies are registered in Riga region.[40] The port of Riga is an important cargo shipping centre. It is the main all-weather port in the Baltic and is expected to grow in the next few years because of increased trade with other ex-Soviet states and the People's Republic of China.[41]

AirBaltic, the national airline of Latvia, has its head office on the grounds of Riga International Airport in Riga.[42]


Riga with its central geographic position and concentration of population, has always been the infrastructural hub of Latvia. Several national roads have their beginning in Riga and the European route E22 crosses Riga from the east and west, the Via Baltica crosses Riga from the south and north.

As a city situated by a river, Riga also has several bridges to facilitate easy crossing for an increasing volume of traffic. The oldest standing bridge is the Railway Bridge, which is also the only railroad carrying bridge in Riga. The Stone Bridge connects Old Town Riga and Pārdaugava, the Island Bridge connects Maskavas forštate and Pārdaugava via Zaķusala, and the Shroud Bridge connects Old Town Riga and Pārdaugava via Ķīpsala. In 2008, the first stage of the new Southern Bridge route across the Daugava was completed, and opened to traffic on November 17.[43] The Southern Bridge is currently the biggest construction project in the Baltic states in 20 years, and will help to reduce traffic jams and the amount of traffic in the city centre.[44][45] Another big construction project is the planned Riga Northern Transport Corridor,[46] which is scheduled to begin in 2010.

Freeport of Riga facilitates cargo and passenger traffic by sea. Sea ferries currently connects Riga to Stockholm and Lübeck, operated respectively by Tallink and DFDS Tor Line.[47][48] The Latvian flagged ferries MS Romantika and MS Silja Festival can be seen at the Riga Passenger Terminal close to Old Town Riga.

Riga has one airport, Riga International Airport, that serves commercial airlines. Air traffic at the airport doubled between 1993 and 2004. Riga was also home to two air bases during the Cold War: Rumbula and Spilve.

Public transportation in the city is provided by Rīgas Satiksme which operates a large fleet of trams, buses and trolleybuses on an extensive network of routes across the city. In addition, many private owners operate minibus services. Riga is connected to the rest of Latvia by trains operated by the national railway company Passenger Train, whose headquarters are in Riga. There are also international rail links to Russia and Estonia. Riga International Coach Terminal provides domestic and international connections by coach. Current plans envisage a trans-European rail link from Tallinn to Warsaw via Riga [49] financed by the European Union, with the first phase to be completed by 2013.[50]


Year Population
1767 19,500
1800 29,500
1840 60,000
1867 102,600
1881 169,300
1897 282,200
1913 517,500
1920 ¹185,100
1930 377,900
1940 353,800
Year Population
1941 335,200
1945 ²228,200
1950 482,300
1955 566,900
1959 580,400
1965 665,200
1970 731,800
1975 795,600
1979 835,500
1987 900,300
Year Population
1990 909,135
1991 900,455
1992 889,741
1993 863,657
1994 843,552
1995 824,988
1996 810,172
1997 797,947
1998 786,612
1999 776,008
Year Population
2000 764,329
2001 756,627
2002 747,157
2003 739,232
2004 735,241
2005 731,762
2006 727,578
2007 722,485
2008 717,371
2009 713,016

With 713,016 inhabitants in 2009, Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States, though its population has decreased since 1991.[3] Notable causes include emigration and low fertility rates. Some have estimated that the population may fall by as much as 50% by 2050.[51] According to the 2008 data, ethnic Latvians make up 42.3% of the population of Riga, with the percentage of ethnic Russians at 41.7%, Belarusians at 4.3%, Ukrainians at 3.9%, Poles at 2.0%, and others ethnicities at 5.8%.[2] By comparison, 59% of Latvia's inhabitants are ethnic Latvians, 28.5% are Russians, 3.8% are Belarusians, 2.5% are Ukrainians, 2.4% are Polish, 1.4% are Lithuanians and the remaining 2.4% are accounted for by other ethnicities (2006).[2] Upon restoration of Latvian independence in 1991, Soviet-era migrants (and any of their offspring born before 1991) were not automatically granted Latvian citizenship. Some have emigrated; this partially accounts for the recent decline in Riga's population. As a result of this repatriation of some Soviet-era migrants, the proportion of ethnic Latvians in Riga has increased from 36.5% in 1989 to 42.3% in 2007. In contrast the percentage of Russians has fallen from 47.3% to 42.1% in the same time period. Latvians overtook Russians as the largest ethnic group in 2006,[4].

In 2005, 16.2% of the population was living under the poverty level and the most vulnerable groups were children, young adults and senior citizens.[52]


Riga is also plagued by very high crime rates, between 1996-2002 it had the second highest murder rate of any capital city in Europe (behind Moscow), and in 2008 it was named "Europe crime capital" by Forbes.[53]


Riga Radio and TV tower is the tallest structure in Latvia, Baltic states and one of the highest in the European Union. It is also 13th highest TV tower in the world 368.5 m (1,209 ft) The highest office/apartment buildings in Latvia are Swedbank Central Office called 'Saules Akmens' (Sun Stone) and Panorama Plaza tower complex.

List of highest buildings in Latvia. 1. Swedbank Central Office 2. Panorama Plaza II 3. Academy of Science 4. Panorama Plaza I 5. Reval Hotel Latvia 6. Ministry of Agriculture Building 7. Latvijas Televizija


Art Academy of Latvia, in Riga


  • The Latvian National Opera was founded in 1918. The repertoire of the theatre embraces all the opera masterpieces. The Latvian National Opera is famous not only for its operas, but for its ballet troupe as well.[54]
  • The Latvian National Theatre was founded in 1919. This theatre is situated in one of the most beautiful buildings in Riga. The Latvian National Theatre preserves the traditions of Latvian drama school. It is one of the biggest theatres in Latvia.[2]
  • Riga Russian Theatre is the oldest professional drama theatre in Latvia. The first season was in 1883. The repertoire of the theatre includes classical plays and experimental performances of Russian and foreign playwrights. Dialogue, music, dance, pantomime are an inseparable part of its spectaculars. [3]
  • The Daile Theatre was opened for the first time in 1920. It is one of the most successful theatres in Latvia. This theatre is distinguished by the fact that it regularly presents productions of modern foreign plays.[55]
  • Latvian State Puppet Theatre was founded in 1944. This theatre presents shows for children and adults.[4]
  • The New Riga Theatre was opened in 1992. It has an intelligent and attractive repertoire of high quality that focused on a modern, educated and socially active audience. [5]


In 2006 a World Ice Hockey Championships was held in Riga. Arena Riga was built for the event. As of 2008, a new Latvian ice hockey club Dinamo Riga was established in order to play in the Kontinental Hockey League. The city is home to the Latvian Bandy Federation.[56] Riga is also the home town for legendary women's basketball club TTT Rīga, which throughout 1960's and 1970s won twelve European champion titles.


International relations

The clock presented to Riga by its sister city Kobe. It shows time in both cities

Twin towns — Sister cities

Riga maintains sister city relationships with the following cities:[57]

Denmark Aalborg, Denmark[58] Kazakhstan Almaty, Kazakhstan Netherlands Amsterdam, Netherlands Kazakhstan Astana, Kazakhstan
People's Republic of China Beijing, China[59] France Bordeaux, France Germany Bremen, Germany Australia Cairns, Australia
France Calais, France United States Dallas, USA Italy Florence, Italy Ukraine Kiev, Ukraine
Japan Kobe, Japan [60] Belarus Minsk, Belarus Russia Moscow, Russia Sweden Norrköping, Sweden
Finland Pori, Finland United States Providence, USA[61] Germany Rostock, Germany Russia Saint Petersburg, Russia:[62]
Chile Santiago, Chile United Kingdom Slough, UK[63] Sweden Stockholm, Sweden People's Republic of China Suzhou, China
Republic of China Taipei, Taiwan[64] Estonia Tallinn, Estonia Lithuania Vilnius, Lithuania Poland Warsaw, Poland [65]

See also



  1. ^ "Riga City Council". Riga City Council. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  2. ^ a b c "Riga in Figures". Riga City Council. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  3. ^ a b "Resident Population by Region, City and District at the Beginning of the Year". 
  4. ^ a b "Resident Population by Ethnicity and by Region, Cityr and District at the Bebinning of the Year". Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ a b "Riga Municipality Portal". Copyright © 2003-2009, Riga Municipality. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  7. ^ "World Heritage List — Riga (Latvia); No. 852" (PDF). pp. 3 (67). Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Bilmanis, A. Latvia as an Independent State. Latvian Legation. 1947.
  9. ^ a b "Teritorija un administratīvās robežas vēsturiskā skatījumā" (in Latvian). Cities Environmental Reports on the Internet. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  10. ^ Endzelīns, Did Celts Inhabit the Baltics (1911 Dzimtene's Vēstnesis (Homeland Messenger) No. 227). Retrieved July 24, 2009.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Vauchez et al. Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Routledge, 2001
  12. ^ Pronouncing the "i" and "e" separately, REE-eh, is the best approximation to the Latvian rija, as "Ria" would result in an "i" not "ee" sound.
  13. ^ Fabrius, D. Livonicae Historiae Compendiosa Series, 1610: "Riga nomen sortita est suum ab aedificiis vel horreis quorum a litus Dunae magna fuit copia, quas livones sua lingua Rias vocare soliti."
  14. ^ a b c d e Germanis, U. The Latvian Saga. 10th ed. 1998. Memento, Stockholm.
  15. ^ Laffort, R. (censor), Catholic Encyclopedia, Robert Appleton Co., 1907
  16. ^ Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, D. The Tolstoys: Genealogy and Origin. A2Z, 1991
  17. ^ a b c d Dollinger, P. The Emergence of International Business 1200 – 1800, 1964; translated Macmillan and Co edition, 1970
  18. ^ a b Reiner et al. Riga. Axel Menges, Stuttgart. 1999.
  19. ^ Zarina, D. Old Riga: Tourist Guide, Spriditis, 1992
  20. ^ a b Moeller et al. History of the Christian Church. MacMillan & Co. 1893.
  21. ^ a b c d e Palmieri, A. Catholic Origin of Latvia, ed. Cororan, J.A. et al.The American Catholic Quarterly Review Volume XLVI, January-October 1921. Philadelphia.
  22. ^ Doma vēsture (history). Retrieved July 29, 2009.
  23. ^ Kooper, E. The Medieval Chronicle V. Radopi, 2008.
  24. ^ Wright, C.T.H. The Edinburgh Review, THE LETTS, 1917
  25. ^ Murray, A. Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150-1500. Ashgate, London. 2001.
  26. ^ The Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. LVI. American Ecclesiastical Review. Dolphin Press. 1917.
  27. ^ Fonnesberg-Schmidt, I. The Popes and the Baltic Crusades, 1147-1254. Brill. 2006.
  28. ^ a b Švābe, A., ed. Latvju Enciklopēdija. Trīs Zvaigznes, Stockholm. 1953-1955 (in Latvian)
  29. ^ Fletcher, R.A. The Conversion of Europe: From Paganism to Christianity, 371-1386 AD. Harper Collins. 1991.
  30. ^ Michell, Thomas. Handbook for Travelers in Russia, Poland, and Finland. London, John Murray, 1888.
  31. ^ Fonnesberg-Schmidt, I. The Popes and the Baltic Crusades, 1147-1254. Brill, 2007
  32. ^ MacCulloch, Diarmaid (2003). The Reformation: A History. Penguin. ISBN 0-670-03296-4. 
  33. ^ National History Museum of Latvia
  34. ^ Charles, Jonathan (2005-06-30). "Latvia prepares for a tourist invasion". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  35. ^ "Weather Information for Riga". World Weather Information Service. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  36. ^ "Gaismas Pils; Development of the project". Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  37. ^ UNESCO 2007 report, p199 accessed 20 July 2009
  38. ^ "Da Vinci, Riga". Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  39. ^ "Z-Towers; On top of your business!". Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  40. ^ "Lursoft statistika; Uzņēmumu dibināšanas dimanika Latvijas rajonos" (in Latvian). Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  41. ^ "Report on the Free Port of Riga". Archived from the original on 2008-01-19. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  42. ^ "airBaltic in Riga." AirBaltic. Retrieved on 16 January 2010.
  43. ^ "Explanatory Note on Planning and Building of the Southern Bridge Route". Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  44. ^ "Dienvidu Tilts; Project of the Bridge". Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  45. ^ "Dienvidu tilta maģistrālie pievedceļi" (in Latvian). Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  46. ^ "Northern Corridor; About project". Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  47. ^ "Sailing schedule on route Riga - Luebeck". DFDS Tor Line. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  48. ^ Abdul Turay (2008-01-30). "Tallinn and Riga to be linked by 2010". Baltic Times. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  49. ^ "Latvia to Begin Constructing Rail Baltica accessed". Latvian State Railways. 2008-04-18. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  50. ^ Heleniak, Timothy (February 2006). "Latvia Looks West, But Legacy of Soviets Remains". University of Maryland. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  51. ^ "Fafo-report 503 Poverty in Latvia". Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  52. ^ Jul 23, 2008 By Talis Saule Archdeacon (2008-07-23). "Latvia ‘Europe’s crime capital’". Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  53. ^ "Latvian National Opera". Archived from the original on 2007-12-26. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  54. ^ Nordik IT <>. "The Daile Theatre - Repertory". Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  55. ^ "Federation of International Bandy-About-About FIB-National Federations-Latvia". Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  56. ^ "Twin cities of Riga". Riga City Council. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  57. ^ "Aalborg Kommune - Venskabsbyer". 2007-11-14. Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  58. ^ "Sister Cities". Beijing Municipal Government. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  59. ^ "Sister City, Friendly City, Friendship & Cooperation City" (in Japanese). © 2007-2009 City of Kobe. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  60. ^ "Mayor Announces Sister City — Meeting (7/30/2003)". Providence, RI, Office of the Mayor. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  61. ^ "Saint Petersburg in figures - International and Interregional Ties". Saint Petersburg City Government. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  62. ^ "British Latvian Trade – the magazine of the British Chamber of Commerce in Latvia" (PDF). pp. 10, col. 2. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  63. ^ Sister city list (.DOC)
  64. ^ (Polish) "Miasta partnerskie Warszawy". Biuro Promocji Miasta. 2005-05-04. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The House of Blackheads in Riga's Town Square.
The House of Blackheads in Riga's Town Square.

Riga is the capital of Latvia, the largest city in the Baltic States, and the second-largest city of the Eastern Baltic.


Riga is experiencing a new Renaissance as the capital of Latvia, and many large-scale restoration projects on old buildings have made Riga one of the most attractive cities in Europe. Most famously, Riga is home to the largest concentration of Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) architecture in the world. Riga has become an increasingly popular destination for Europeans drawn by its old town, its historical importance, and its reputation as having the best nightlife in Europe.


Riga was founded in 1201 by Albert of Bremen as a base for the Northern Crusades. It developed as the major trade hub of the Eastern Baltic during the high days of the Hanseatic League, ruled by the Archbishop of Riga. The Reformation reached Riga in 1522, which ended the Archbishops' power. After the fall of the Hansa, Riga became a part of first the Swedish and then the Russian Empires, before becoming the capital of independent Latvia in 1918. Riga remained the capital through the Soviet period, and emerged in the 1990's as the capital of newly-independent Latvia.

Germans have inhabited the city since its establishment by Albert, and throughout most of its history Germans were the elite while Latvians remained a lower class. Their position as the elite continued through the Imperial period of Riga. As such, much of the architecture in Riga has been heavily influenced by Germany. The Germans were forcibly repatriated after the Nazi occupation of 1941-44.

Much of Riga was bombed in World War II--the ruins were left to decay until independence, when the government, realizing the tourism potential, began to invest in reconstructing and restoring the old buildings. Because of this, Riga has one of the most complete old towns in Europe.


The main languages of Riga are Latvian and Russian. English and German are understood by younger people to some extent. In tourist areas there should be no problem with speaking English.

Daugava river and central Riga
Daugava river and central Riga

Get in

By plane

Riga International Airport (IATA: RIX) (ICAO: EVRA), [1]. (Latvian - Starptautiskā Lidosta Rīga)

The following airlines offer service from/to Riga International Airport:

Bus 22 runs between the airport (Lidosta) and the central bus station downtown, 40 minutes away. Tickets can be purchased from the driver for 0.60 LVL or from the Narvesen shop in the airport for 0.50 LVL. Alternatively, you want to purchase a 24-hour transport pass (see below). Have small change ready. Bus 22 runs from 5:40 to 23:25. See schedule [2].

Airbaltic runs “Airport Express” minibuses to the city center costing 3 LVL. These run more frequently than bus 22, although more expensive.

Baltic Taxi [3] runs taxi service from the airport to the center for a fixed price of 9 LVL

Taxi prices, if going from Riga airport to city, can be very high. Avoid black Mercedes taxis. The tax ride to the center takes 15 minutes. Charge – 1.50 LVL for embarkation plus 0.50 LVL per kilometre, waiting 6.00 LVL/hour.

By bus

There are many international bus connections including Tallinn, Estonia and Vilnius, Lithuania.

  • Eurolines [4]
  • Ecolines [5]
  • BalticShuttle [6]
  • Hansabuss [7], operates only between Riga and Tallinn.

By ferry

Tallink, [8], operates a daily ferry service between Stockholm and Riga. Prices start at €103.

By train

Latvian Railways [9] operates service to many cities in Latvia as well as a few cities in Russia, Belarus, and Estonia.

Trains depart for Moscow daily (except New Year's Eve) at 16:20 ('Latvijas Express') with an additional train departing at 18:10 from May to September ('Jurmala'). The trip takes 17 hours and costs €55 for a bed in a 4-bed cabin if the ticket is bought at the train station.

One train bound for St. Petersburg departs Riga daily at 19:30. The train takes 13.5 hours and costs €50 for a bed in a 4-bed cabin if the ticket is bought at the train station.

Trains operate between Riga an Valga, Estonia. From Valga, connections can be made to other cities in Estonia including Tallinn. Direct service to Tartu is planned for 2010 [10].

Get around

Cars are not allowed in Old Town (although enforcement is somewhat lax at night), but vehicles making "deliveries" are. Therefore, you can take a taxi to the Old Town, but you cannot park a rental car there.

By foot

Riga's old town is best explored on foot, especially since cars are not allowed. The streets in old town (and some points beyond) are mostly cobblestone, so comfortable shoes are recommended.

By taxi

Taxis are reasonably-priced but you should be careful, as they may not necessarily follow the shortest route to your destination, especially if you appear to be new to the city. Occasionally, taxi drivers will try to overcharge you, but the majority are honest, courteous and very helpful. Many drivers speak a few words of English. Red Taxis 80001313 and Smile Taxi are the more trustworthy taxi companies in Riga, and they have the contract with the airport and with many of the better hotels.

By Public Transport

The trams, buses and trolley buses are easy to use.

  • Single tickets cost 0.60 LVL if bought from the driver or 0.50 LVL if purchased in advance. 24-hour tickets cost 1.90 LVL, 3-day tickets cost 5.70 LVL, and 5-day tickets cost 9.50 LVL. These all run from first use and cover all travel on city buses, trolleybuses, and trams. Alternatively, 5-day tickets valid only on 1 mode of transport (either the bus, trolleybus, or tram) can be bought fo 6.00 LVL. Tickets are sold in ticket offices, in vending machines, in press kiosks, in Narvesen shops, and other locations listed on the website [11]. Once inside the bus/tram/trolleybus, validate the ticket by using the yellow device.
  • The Riga Card [12] allows the holder to travel free on public transportation.
  • There is a good website to search for connections [13] and also a list of routes [14].

By car

There are several car rental offices in Riga airport as well as in other parts of the town. You can even rent a cheap soviet style car. However, be aware of the ban on cars in old town.

The view southeast from St. Peter's Church in Riga's Old Town
The view southeast from St. Peter's Church in Riga's Old Town


Riga has several districts. The ones most interesting to tourists are the Old Town and the area around the Freedom Monument, located nearby.

A walking tour is by far the best way to see these two districts. The tourist office, located inside the House of Blackheads, offers both guided tours and free pamphlets, complete with detailed descriptions of many buildings, for independent walks. These walks cover the old town and the main city centre sights as well as heading out to view the Art Nouveau district. It's all pretty small scale so it's easy to do each of these in around an hour, or linger and read every detail in the booklet - in the absence of any signs or plaques around the city the booklet gives you an insight to what you are seeing. Private companies also operate tours. If you want to get away from the 'touristic areas' Alternative tours on bike and on foot are also available, aswell as a free city tour that runs everyday from St Peters Church at 12:00. Look for a yellow suitcase.

The Riga Card [15], which costs 10Ls-18Ls, has discounts for museums and some tourist attractions.

A virtual walk through the Old Riga is available at [16].

The mostly residential areas outside Riga center are largely made up of grey apartment blocks built in the typically Soviet style. These areas are nearly identical to those all over Eastern Europe. However, they do give an idea of how the vast majority of the people in Riga live and of the history of the area.

Old Town

The area around Old Town is mostly built between 1860 and 1914 and has many buildings that resemble Berlin, Paris, or Rome. Many Soviet-era movies set in Western Europe were filmed here as the buildings can make the city pass for a city in Western Europe.

  • Town Square and Surroundings.  edit
    • Statue of Roland, (In the center of the Town Square).  edit
    • House of Blackheads, 1 kalku iela, 371 7044300. The House of Blackheads is where the merchants-to-be had their guild. Part of this building is the Tourist information office, the rest is a fascinating museum. The upper levels house grand ballrooms while the basement has a wine cellar and several exhibits relating to trading in Riga. Admission Fee. (latitude,) edit
    • Town Hall. Not open to visitors, but is pretty to look at.  edit
    • Museum of Occupations, 1 Strelnieku laukums, 371 7 212 715 (). This oticeable austere black building is clearly out-of-place. In the Soviet days, this housed a museum to the Riflemen, a group of Latvians who attempted to annex Latvia for the Soviet Union. Now it houses a museum of Latvia's time under both the Nazi and Soviet occupations. Very long, but very moving--essential for anyone interested in the history of the USSR or Nazi Germany. Outside the building away from the town square stands the Soviet-era Monument to the Riflemen. Free. (latitude,) edit
    • St. Peter's Church, 19 Skarnu iela, 371 7229426 (fax: 371 7211375). St. Peters Church, dating to 1209, is Riga's oldest church. Besides its ensemble of architecture, the church has an elevator to the tower from where you can see all of Riga (service not available on Mondays). 2 Lats. (latitude,) edit
    • St. John's Church, 7 Jana iela. 10AM - 5PM TUE-SAT. A smaller, less spectacular church near St. Peter's. There is a nice altar inside, and unlike most Riga churches, this one is free.  edit
    • Porcelain Museum, 9 Kalēju iela, (), [17]. 11AM - 6PM TUE-SUN. Covers the history of porcelain in Riga through the 19th and 20th centuries. 1 Lat, 50 Santi for children, free under 7.  edit
    • Sun Museum, 1 Kungu iela, +371 67225587 (), [18]. 10AM - 7PM daily. A definite contender for Riga's weirdest museum, this one covers the history of sun mythology and its role in Latvian culture. 2 Lats, 1.5 Lats for students, children free.  edit
  • The Big Guild, 6 Amatu iela. Housed the guild of the tradesmen, who would join after being a member of the Blackheads (see House of Blackheads). Home to the Latvian Philharmonic, but you can't just walk inside. It's the exterior that's worth seeing though.  edit
  • The Little Guild, 5 Amatu iela. Another pretty building just behind the Big Guild, this one housed the craftsmen's guild. Like the Big Guild, you can't go inside except for a performance.  edit
  • The House of Black Cats, Next to the Big Guild. This building (currently a pub of no particular note) is most famous for the two small statues of black cats on the roofs. The black cat is a symbol of Riga.  edit
  • Wagner Concert Hall, 4 Vāgnera iela. Wagner once lived in Riga, on the street now named after him. This hall, where he performed, occasionally holds concerts.  edit
  • St. Saviour's Anglican Church, 2a Anglikanu iela, 6722 2259, [19]. Riga's only Anglican church is a little bit decrepit and seems to be abandoned, but it's still nice from the outside.  edit
  • St. Jacob's Catholic Church, 2 Klostera iela. Dating to 1226, this is one of the few Catholic churches left in Riga. At one point, it housed one of Riga's first schools. Free.  edit
  • Riga Castle - Rigas Pils, (Near the Northern boundry of the Old Town). The castle itself is fairly uninteresting but it houses the following 2 museums:  edit
    • National History Museum of Latvia, 3 Pils Laukums, 7223004 (, fax: 7220586). 11AM - 5PM WED-SUN. The History Museum is interesting, however there is little English (Every room has its exhibits summarized on a single plaque). However, the museum does give a very good idea of Latvian history, and will give you a good understanding of the area. Admission: 2 LVL; Camera fee: 5 LVL. (latitude,) edit
    • Museum of Foreign Art, 3 Pils Laukums, 6722 6467, [20]. 11AM - 5PM TUE-SUN. The less interesting of the two museums: this is just a standard art museum. Admission fee: 2.50 LVL; Camera fee: 0.50 LVL.  edit
The Dom Cathedral in central Riga.
The Dom Cathedral in central Riga.
  • Dome Square and Surroundings.  edit
    • Dome Cathedral, 1 Doma Laukums, 7227573. Dating to 1207, it is one of Riga's symbols. The 6768-pipe organ inside is particularly spectacular. Besides the organ, however, the interior is rather spartan, and may not be worth the entrance fee. (latitude,) edit
    • Museum of the Barricades of 1991, 3 Krāmu iela, +371 67213525, [21]. 10AM - 5PM MON-FRI, 11AM - 5PM SAT. Covers the dramatic events that occurred in the tumultuous final year of the USSR, when Soviet authorities sent troops into Riga to overthrow the elected Latvian government. Free.  edit
    • The Three Brothers, 17, 19, and 21 Mazā Pils iela, [22]. 9AM - 5PM TUE-THUR, 9AM - 4PM Fri. The Three Brothers are the oldest dwelling houses in Riga. One of them has a small architecture museum inside, along with changing exhibits about Latvia.  edit
    • Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, 4 Palasta iela, [23]. May - Sept: 11AM - 5PM daily, Oct - May: 11AM - 5PM WED-SUN. Actually 2 museums plus a number of special exhibits, though you pay one price. Like the National Museum, English translations are limited to plaques summarizing rooms, but here you can also pick up pieces of paper describing some of the exhibits. Both of the main museums are quite interesting, and they provide a good idea of what Riga was like in the past. 3 lats plus more for photo permission.   edit
    • Latvian Parliament (Saiema), 11 Jekaba iela, [24]. A rather plain building housing the Saiema, Latvia's parliament. It has had a number of uses--including as a soviet-era museum. Currently not open to visitors  edit
    • Arsenal Museum of Art, 1 Torna iela, 6735 7527, [25]. April - Sept: 11AM - 7 PM Tue-Sun, Oct - Mar: 11AM - 5PM Tue-Sun. Riga's premier museum for modern art.  edit
    • Swedish Gate, Btw Torna and Aldaru iela. The last remaining gate from the old city walls.  edit
  • Powder Tower & City Wall, (Northwestern end of Old Town). The following attractions are here:  edit
    • Museum of War, 20 Smilsu iela, 6722 8147. May - Sept: 10AM - 6PM Wed-Sun, Oct - April: 10AM - 5PM Wed-Sun.  edit
    • St. Jacob's Barracks, Torna iela. The primary attraction here is the last remaining stretch of city wall directly opposite the barracks.  edit
  • Pharmaceutical Museum, 13-15 Riharda Vagnera, [26]. Tue-Sat: 10am-5pm. In a renovated 18th century house. 1 LVL.  edit
  • Freedom Monument, 1 Brivivas iela. Freedom Monument is one of Latvia's national symbols. It was erected after the first independence and surprisingly never taken down by the Soviets (although laying flowers at its feet was forbidden). The statue at the top of the monument is "Milda." (latitude,) edit
  • Laima Clock, (Just south of the Freedom Monument). Laima is a Latvian chocolate manufacturer and means good luck in Latvian.  edit
  • Jewish Museum and Cultural Center, 6 Skolas, 3rd Floor, 6738 3484. Sun-Thu: Noon-5PM. Small museum dedicated to Jewish life in Latvia since the 16th century. Includes information on destruction of the synagogues by the Nazis, and the Latvians that saved Jews during the Holocaust. Exhibits are in English and Latvian. Free, donations requested.  edit
  • Mentzendorff House, Grecienieku 18, [27]. Wed-Sun: 11:00am-5:00pm. Former residence of a wealthy merchant built in 1720, now a museum dedicated to life in Riga in the 17th & 18th centuries. 1.20 LVL.  edit
  • Bastejkalns, Between Raina Bulvaris and Basteja Bulvaris. A small, pleasant park surrounding Brivibas Bulvaris. Sites in the Bastejkalns include a Chinese and a Japanese building, and the Bridge of Love over the Pilsetas Canal. The Bridge of Love has several locks on the railings put up by recently married couples. There is also a memorial to the two people killed here in the tumultuous events of 1991.  edit
Scary Art Nouveau designs in Riga.
Scary Art Nouveau designs in Riga.
  • Art Noveau Buildings. *Alberta and Elizabetes streets (iela) are the best place to see the creations of Art Nouveau architect Eisenstein, famous of his splendid style. Other Art Nouveau buildings can be seen in the area around the Freedom Monument, including the embassies on Raina Bulvaris and on Strelnieku iela.  edit
  • Esplanade Park, (a block from the Freedom Monument). Designed by Georg Kuphaldt, who was expelled by Germany in 1915 as a spy becuase he had a telescope in his garden.The following attractions are here:  edit
    • National Museum of Art. Houses many works by Latvian artists.  edit
    • Riga Orthodox Cathedral. The Orthodox Cathedral was erected during Russian rule ofr Russian residents. In contrast to its relatively plain exterior, it is spectacular on the inside, but be aware that shorts are not allowed. free.  edit
    • Clock, (Western corner of the park). Donated by Riga's sister city Kobe.  edit
  • Mežaparks, (Take Tram 11). Mežaparks(English: Forest Park) is a pleasant park area on the outskirts of Riga. There are large, gorgeous residential houses once inhabited by Riga's pre-war elite during the summers. They were largely let go during Soviet times but many are now being refurbished, repainted, and brought back to their original glory.  edit
    • Riga Zoo, 1 Meza Prospekts. The Riga Zoo is small, but fairly popular (latitude,) edit
  • Riga Motor Museum, Eisensteina 6 (8km from the old town; take trolleybus 14 or 18 to Gailezers Hospital, then walk 500m), [28]. 10am-6pm daily. Contains former vehicles of Stalin, Kruschev, and Brezhnev. 1 LVL. (latitude,) edit
  • Riga Ethnographic Open Air Museum (Brīvdabas muzejs), 440 Brivibas (Take the A2(E77) to the East out of Riga or take bus N.1 or Tram 1, 3, 6 (but from the tram there is a 2 km walking distance).), 7994106 (, fax: 7994178), [29]. The Riga Ethnographic Museum is in Jugla, near a lake of the same name. There are many traditional Latvian countryside houses collected in a forest/park and exhibitions inside them about the traditional things. The employees are often dressed in the traditional Latvian costumes, creating a nice atmosphere.  edit
  • Maskavas forštate ((English: Moscow Suburb)). A district with old wooden houses and other sights.  edit
    • Choral Great Synagouge, At Gogola and Dzirnavu iela. Mostly in ruins as the Germans burned it down on July 4, 1941 with 600 people locked inside. There is a memorial to 400 Latvians who saved Jews during the Holocaust dedicted on July 4, 2007.  edit
    • Russian Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, 9 Gogola iela.  edit
    • Grebenshchikov Church, 73 Krasta iela. An Old Believers' church.  edit
    • Jesus Church, 18 Elijas iela. An unusually-designed Lutheran church.  edit
    • Latvian Academy of Sciences, 1 Akademijas laukums, 6722 5361. Balcony: May - Sept: 9AM - 8PM daily. Built in 1953, this building is often called Stalin's Birthday Cake because of it's austere and ornamented design. The balcony is open to visitors.  edit
  • Andrejsala. An artists' island behind the passengers port is starting to emerge here.  edit
  • Pārdaugava, (Left Bank of Riga). Less frequently visited by tourists. The following attractions are here:  edit
    • Riga TV Tower, 1 Zaķusalas krastmala, 7108643, [30]. A 368 meter-high tower built of concrete and standing on three legs.It has an observation deck at a height of 97 metres. The inexpensive tours feature a tour guide but don't depend on the guide speaking much English!  edit
    • Āgenskalns, (Take Tram 2, 4, or 5). A historical part of Pārdaugava, full of interesting architecture  edit
      • Victory Monument (Uzvaras piemineklis), (Get off the tram at the second stop after the bridge over the Daugava). A splendid example of high Soviet art and the biggest occupation-era monument in Latvia. If you've never seen a Soviet monument before, you should really check this out.  edit
      • Railway Museum, 2 - 4 Uzbaras bulvaris, 6723 2849, [31]. 10AM - 5PM TUE-SUN. The railway museum exhibits several collections of Soviet rolling stock.  edit
    • Ķīpsala, (Cross the Vanšu bridge over the Daugava). An island with Nordic Dwelling architecture, solitude, and delicious sights of Riga over the river Daugava  edit
    • Riga Aviation Museum, (At Riga-Spilve International Airport). 10 - 4. Bored at the airport? Check out the Riga Aviation museum, which contains several rare aircraft. 5 Euros. (latitude,) edit
  • Latvian Photographic Museum, Marstalu iela 8, [32]. Constains photos of Latvia since 1839, wih focuses on the World Wars and 1905 Revolution. 1 LVL.  edit
  • Latvian National Opera, 3 Aspazijas bulvaris, (), [33]. A pretty building in its own right, this is also a nice place to see an opera or ballet. 4 LVL to 45 LVL depending on seat.  edit
  • Latvian Philharmonic Concerts @ Big Guild.  edit
  • AK-47 Shooting.  edit
  • Bungee Jumping.  edit
  • Scenic Flights over the Old Town.  edit
  • Russian Car Ralley.  edit
  • Canoe Trips.  edit
  • Don't go to the souvenir shops, instead buy items like amber and wool mittens and socks in the central market or throughout Old Riga in little stands. You might haggle and get good prices for souvenirs.
  • During Christmas season there is a small Christmas market which offers lots of festive fare and hot wine.
  • Konventa Seta, Behind St. John's Church. A former convent courtyard that now contains several touristy shops.  edit
  • Central Market (Centrāltirgus), 1 Centrāltirgus, [34]. 8AM - 5PM daily. This striking building near the central train station began life as an airship hangar in the 1930s, but is now an excellent place to buy fresh produce, meat, dairy, and the occasional counterfeit goods, though these have been mostly eradicated. The market is actually quite non-touristy but very good for souvenirs. There are lots of small cafes scattered around the markets that serve up cheap local eats.  edit
  • Latgalite, Corner of Gogola and Dzirnavu iela. If you are looking for Soviet era items, such as hats, medals, pins, or complete uniforms, go to this flea market. On the way there you will see old buildings that aren't exactly well conserved, but there are some that are breathtaking.  edit
  • Galerija Istaba, 31 Krišjāņa Barona iela. Nice local artwork can be found here. There is also a small cafe/bar on the second floor with a nice, laid-back atmosphere.  edit
  • Stockmann, 13 Janvara iela (Near the train station), +371 6 707 1222 (fax: +371 6 707 1254). 1st Floor: 9AM - 10PM MON-SAT, 10AM - 10PM SUN 2nd Floor: 10AM - 9PM daily. The Latvian branch of the Finnish department store chain.  edit


Riga, as the most vibrant and cosmopolitan city of the Baltics, offers countless opportunities to sample both local cuisine and international favorites. Latvian food can be hearty, using a lot of potato, cabbage, beef, pork and fish. A diversity of foreign cuisines is also available -- sushi restaurants in particular are currently in vogue.

  • Čili Pica, Several locations (One near the Freedom Monument, another on the ground floor of the Stockman mall near central station), [35]. Cheap but good pizza.  edit
  • Ķīpsala Island Student Cafeteria, (Ķīpsala Island). Several sets of home-like food are offered in a cozy atmosphere.  edit
  • Lido, [36]. A network of 8 restaurants offering decent hearty Latvian food, including desserts, at good prices. The restaurants are either cafeteria-style or feature English menus. The restaurants only accept cash. The following resturants are in the Lido network:  edit
    • Lido Entertainment Center, 76 Krasta iela (Take Tram 3, 7, or 9 to Krasta masīvs), +371 7 504 420 (fax: +371 7241168). Main Restaurant: 11AM - 11PM daily, Express Restaurant: 1PM - 11PM daily, Beer Cellar: 6PM - 12PM MON-FRI, 12AM - 12PM Holidays, Playroom: 5PM - 10PM MON-FRI, 12PM - 10PM Holidays. The wooden building features three floors of dining, a built-in wooden windmill, and a small amusement park outside. The ground floor and basement operate cafeteria-style. There is a huge choice available, including a variety of soups including borscht and the Latvian cold beetroot soup, as well as kebabs, breasts, chicken sausages, fish, red meats. Blinis are another specialty here. Cafeteria: 2.30 LVL for a meat main course and 0.50 LVL for a plateload of roast potatoes. Pancakes for 0.40 LVL. Top floor: Buffet for set price of 11 LVL.  edit
    • Alus Seta. Literally Beer Yard. Serves huge portions of excellent meat and two veg from a grill at the front of the tavern, as well as an excellent choice of Beer. Probably the best value place in town.  edit
    • Staburags. á là carte based and not cafeteria-style. Rustic interior, low prices and large portions of traditional Latvian food. Plays pseudo-traditional Latvian music with synthesized backing.  edit
    • Vermanitis, 65 Elizabetes St. A fantastic range of Latvian food in "authentic" environment. Fried fish: 2 LVL, Salmon steak: 3.50 LVL, Half chicken: 1.80 LVL, large side of mashed potatoes or pasta: 0.70 LVL, 500ml beer: 1.50 LVL.  edit
  • Smilšu Pulkstenis, Kalku iela #7. Cheap & tasty Latvian food.  edit
  • Varzob, 21 Peldu Iela, 67211332. Rated the best restaurant in Riga. Uzbek food. The plov is an excellent choice, as is the Shashlik.  edit
  • 13 Kresli, Dome Sq. Still going from Soviet times - 13 Kresli (13 chairs)has grown a bit, but is excellent, especially for tea and snacks  edit
  • Alus Ordenis, 15 Raina bulvaris, 6781 4190. Serves rural Latvian food for an eminently reasonable price. Try pork shanks or bull testicles!  edit
  • Cafe Grill Bar/Stork's Nest Pub, 14-16 Kaleju iela, (). A jewel of a restaurant/bar with all the comforts of the USA/UK, serving both Latvian and American food The walls are decorated with American/English memorobilia and there is a large plasma TV showing English or American shows and sporting events.  edit
  • Double Coffee, various all over Riga & Majori. Not just a coffee cafe like Starbucks, but a wide range of teas & coffees + other drinks plus an wide range of food - both Latvian & international. Excellent for lunch or a snack. Reasonable prices too.  edit
  • Juffin's 12, 10 Aldaru Street, (+371) 67224271 (, fax: (+371) 67224272), [37]. 11AM-11PM. If you are in a mood to treat yourself and friends to a great fare this restaurant is the right place. With reasonable prices, the quality of the wonderfully inventive but simple European/Oriental food is amongst the best in Riga. Stunning wine list and prompt service come together to make this rather unsung Vercriga fixture one of Riga’s top dining places.  edit
  • Le Crabe, Jauniela 24, (+371) 67212416, [38]. 12AM-12PM. One of the best fish restaurants in town. Champagne Glass: 5 LVL, Bottle of Philipe Brugnon 1er Cru Rose: 33 LVL.  edit
  • Osiris, 31 Krisjanis Barona iela. An artsy cafe with a cool interior, fireplace and pancakes worth killing for. While there, drop by Gallerija Istaba for another cup of coffee or beer, and make sure to check out some of the artwork sold downstairs.  edit
  • Sweetday Cafe Tirgoņu 9 in old town, Riga. The Sweetday Cafe is a coffee house that serves freshly homemade cakes that are TO DIE FOR! It has a great cozy atmosphere, the best service in town and I would highly recommend it to anyone!! The owner Inese (she's amazing, speaks english, spanish, russian and a bit of dutch..apart from Latvian obviously and is the sweetest girl ever) says that they just opened recently.
  • Traktieris (Russian: Трактиръ), 8 Antonijas iela. For a Russian experience, try out Traktieris. Huge servings, great food, loads of vodkas to try out, and a Russian troubadour for entertainment. Few tourists.  edit
  • Vecmeita ar kaķi, 1 Mazā Pils iela. This restaurant and bar is a more upmarket option than Lido, serving very good Latvian food.  edit
  • Gardenia, Grecinieku street 28 (City centre, Old Riga), +371 67224650 (, fax: +371 67359749), [39]. 12:00-24:00. Enjoy Mediterranean and European cuisine at our re-established, cozy, and elegantly casual Restaurant. 5 EUR and up.  edit
  • Rozengrāls, [40]. An authentic medieval restaurant in a real medieval basement in the Old Town. Serves tasty medieval foods and beverages.  edit
  • Vincents, Elizabetes 19, (+371) 67332634. M. - F.: Noon-11PM, Sat: 6PM-11PM, Su: Closed. If you're splashing out try Vincents Restaurant which compares favorably to any up market western restaurant at half the price. 20 LVL.  edit

Bar scams in Latvia

Latvia, and Eastern Europe in general, are home to a number of fraud/extortion scams in bars, run by the local mobs. A common scam, which targets men, begins by coaxing you into a bar, where most often a girl will strike up a conversation with a with you and convince you to buy her a drink. You will then be presented with a bill for several hundred Lats. Don't worry, the bar will take credit cards - or you might be forced to withdraw money from their handy ATM. If you ask, you will even be presented with a menu and the price listed. The trick to avoiding this scam is not to enter a bar recommeded to you by someone on the street or, if you do, insist on seeing the price of a drink in writing. If not, leave immediately, although this may not be possible if the exit is being blocked by a large bouncer. Here is a list of bars/clubs in Riga the U.S. Embassy specifically warns against visiting (and bars all embassy personnel from visiting):

  • “Foxy Lounge” - Terbatas 2; located below the “Fashion Café” in the basement of the “Vegas” casino at the corner of Terbatas and Merkela streets near the flower market.
  • “Roxy Klub” - Kalku 24; located near the entrance to Old Town on Kalku street.
  • “Lord’s Pub” (formerly “Groks Pub”)—Kalku 22; located next door to Roxy Klub.
  • “Puzzle” (formerly “Pink Panther”)—Kalku 22; also located next door to Groks Pub.
  • “Mary” - Audeju 13; located on the east side of Galleria “Centrs” Mall.
  • “DD Bars”
  • “Saxon” - Laipu 7; located near “Livu Square” in a small street to the right of restaurant “Steiku Haoss”.
  • “Doll House” a.k.a “Zig Zag” – Marstalu 12; located to the right of Reformed Church.
  • “Bar Fly” - Vagnera 8; located near “Livu Square” in a small street to the right of “Roxy”, “Groks” and “Pink Panther”.
  • “Zephry Bar” - located near Galleria Center in Old Town, near the youth hostel.
  • “Mademoiselle Cigar Club” – Valnu street; located in Old Town across from “Lounge 8”.
  • “Nobu Sushi” - Grecinieku 28; located in Old Town.

For your own safety, you should not patronize any of these locations. Many are strip bars or locations of prostitution rings. Consider yourself warned.

Riga is a major nightlife destination for tourists and bars here are often open later than those in other European cities. On average, bars in Old Town will charge 2 LVL per beer and bars outside of Old Town will charge 1 LVL per beer. A specialty liquor is Riga Balsam, which is an acquired taste.

  • Atslēga, Skarņu iela 2 (Old Town). Cozy bar.  edit
  • Cuba Bar. Cozy bar, DJ in the evenings (who mimes!).
  • Double Coffee, International chain of coffee houses/restaurants based in Riga. They have wireless hotspots, but you need to buy a Lattelekom wifi card. 10% service charge is added to the bill.
  • Karakums, Lāčplēša iela 18. Fun bar with TV and dance room. Beer: 1 LVL.  edit
  • Leningrad [41]. After nearly two decades of capitalism and double-digit inflation, some Latvians are looking back to the past. A bar with a retro Soviet interior of assorted communist relics and even period furniture is as good a place as any to enjoy a drink. The beer might not be as cheap as it was in Gorbachev’s time, but for Old Riga the local Brengulis and Czech Kozel are remarkably affordable. The beefy bartender with the shaved head and trimmed beard looks like Lenin on steroids.
  • Pulkvedis, [42]. A trendy place popular with a younger crowd. ALL of the barmen are v.good and the speed is superb. The basement offers techno-ish and/or alternative sounds. Upstairs which is the busiest area with a mix of pop/dance occasional rock music. It is a very busy place on Thurs/Fri/Sat and is closed on Sunday. Entry fee: 3 LVL; Beer: 2 LVL, vodka orange: 2.75 LVL, vodka coke: 2.50 LVL, Cocktails: 4-5 LVL.  edit
  • Skyline Bar, (On the top of Reval hotel in Riga), [43]. Just perfect view at sunset. Finding a table next to the windows might be difficult after 11PM. Beer: 2.20 LVL; Cocktails: 4-5 LVL.  edit


Before choosing an economic hotel (hostel not included), it is useful to take a look at a table that compares the time needed for a journey from the hotel to the center. In May 2009, the Latvian Magazine "Vakara Ziņas" conducted a survey to evaluate the distance of the main budget hotels in Riga from the old city. The survey is not based on the the physical distance but on the journey time. At different times of the day and by different means of transportation (tramway, taxi or walk), you'll know the exact time to reach the old city, which will avoid some unpleasant surprised.

Comparison of budget hotels in the journey's time from/to Old Riga. Click on photo to enlarge
Comparison of budget hotels in the journey's time from/to Old Riga. Click on photo to enlarge
  • Riga City Camping, (In the center of town), [44]. Open May 15 - September 15. Nice facilities. From 2 LVL.  edit
  • Backpackers Planet, (5 min north of the bus station and 5 min south of the train station), [45]. The rooms are clean, private, safe, spacious, and have private bathrooms. Located next to a very nice farmers market and flea market that have good prices on food and clothing. Double: €18.  edit
  • BaltHostel, Markela Iela 1 (just over the road from the central station), (+371) 67224258, [46]. Friendly, multilingual staff. Dorm bed: €18-€23.  edit
  • Barons Hostel, (In the center of town), [47]. For the Mature Traveller as they do not accept stag or bucks parties. Is also the HQ for the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Latvia [48].  edit
  • Central Hostel, (Near the train station), [49]. New hostel, bed & breakfast or whatever with many nice double rooms and one 4 beds room.  edit
  • Doma Hostel, 16 Skunu Street, (+371) 67213101, [50]. Clean, small, safe, cheap, and in a great location. Not the best place to hang out though. They seem to run a nail salon out of the common room during the day, and the kitchen is the size of a closet. They do have free coffee and tea though.  edit
  • Elizabeth's Youth Hostel, 103-2 Elizabetes str (Just outside Old Town), (+371) 67217890 (), [51]. HI Hostel. Free internet access. Dorm bed: €6 (Low Season), €10 (High Season); Single: €15 (Low Season), €20 (High Season).  edit
  • Friendly Fun Franks Hostel, (on the banks of the river Daugava), +371 2599 0612 (), [52]. The biggest party hostel in Riga. Australian/British/Latvian owned. Popular with Brits in Riga for stag parties, so expect a lot of guys who want to party.  edit
  • Funky Hostel, 25 Kr Barona Iela, [53]. Australian & Latvian owned. 24 hour reception. Free wifi in all rooms. Dorrm bed: From 6.90 LVL.  edit
  • Naughty Squirrel Backpackers Hostel, 50 Kaleju Iela, +371 67220073 (), [54]. Australian & Latvian owned. 24 hour reception. Offers a wide range of alternative tours. Dorm bed: From LVL 5; Double: From LVL 22.  edit
  • Old Town Hostel, [55]. Has a nice bar which is always open.  edit
  • Posh Backpackers Hostel, Pupolu Iela 5 (Opposite the police station, reasonably near the bus and train stations.), (+371) 67210917 (), [56]. Anything but posh. Privates, doubles as well as 6,8 and 12 room dorms. Dorm bed: 8 LVL.  edit
  • Riga Hostel, Marstalu Iela 12 (old town), (+371) 67224520, [57]. Friendly, multilingual staff. 62 beds in various hostel configurations.  edit
  • Riga House Hostel and Guesthouse, (Old town), [58]. Newly renovated building offering rooms or apartments. Handmade decoration and eco frinedly materials. Dorm bed: €12-€15; Double: €18-28.  edit
  • Apartment Hotel Riga, 196 Brivibas iela, [59]. Apartments on Riga's main street. Every apartment has either two separate beds or one double, as well as a washing machine, television, gas ring, air conditioner, refrigerator, and set of dishes. €25 and up.  edit
  • Dodo Hotel, (10 min from old town by tram.), [60]. Modern rooms with shower, WC, flat-screen TV, and hairdryer. Free Wi-Fi. French owned. Double: €29.  edit
  • Hotel EDVARDS, +371 67439960 (, fax: +371 67439959), [61]. Newly opened in September 2008, the Hotel Edvards is a cosy, family-run hotel in the heart of Riga, in a renovated 19th-century building. 38 LVL and up.  edit
  • Krisjanis and Gertrude Bed & Breakfast, K. Barona iela 39 (in the wooden house diagonally opposite the Barona shopping center, entrance in Gertrudes iela), (+371) 67506604, [62]. Single: €30 (Low Season); Double/Twin: €40 (Low Season); Triple: €50 (Low Season), breaskfast included.  edit
  • Metropole Hotel, 36 Aspazijas bulvaris, +371 67225411 (, fax: +371 67216140), [63]. Not quite as centrally located as some other hotels, but still quite near Old Town. All rooms have satellite TV, minibar, and WiFi. €93 and up.  edit
  • Hotel Bergs, 83 Elizabetes iela, (+371) 67770900 (fax: (+371) 67770940), [64]. An internationally regarded hotel that opened in 2003 located in the heart of Riga. €180 and up.  edit
  • Hotel Centra Riga, 1 Adeju iela, 866-538-0187, [65]. A true gem of a hotel. The service here is spectacular, and the management has a habit of upgrading people for no extra charge. Flat-screen TVs, minibar, and free WiFi. In a historic building. €80 and up.  edit
  • Hotel de Rome, 28 Kalku iela, +371 67087600 (, fax: +371 67087606), [66]. checkin: 2 PM; checkout: 12 AM. Mostly a business hotel, but this Kolonna hotel also has rooms for splurging tourists. Amenities include free wifi, safe, minibar, and satellite television in every room. The hotel also has a guarded parking lot (which requires a surcharge) and a fancy restaurant at the top. Small pets are allowed. €142 and up.  edit
  • Hotel Garden Palace, 28 Grecinieku Street (City centre, Old Riga), +371 67224650 (, fax: +371 67359749), [67]. checkin: 13:00; checkout: 12:00. Elegant boutique 4* hotel in the heart of historic centre of Riga with 65 comfortable guest rooms. 55 EUR and up.  edit

Stay safe

In general Riga is a quiet and safe city where you are unlikely to have any trouble.

When visiting bars and restaurants make sure you know the price before you order and keep track of your spending, so no cheating is possible. Beware of scammers who strike up conversations out of the blue and invite you to visit their favorite club or bar; this is often a favorite way for the fraudsters to rob the foreigners, and the police are unlikely to help if you get scammed.

US embassy has issued travel advisory for clubs and bars in Riga which are involved in crimes against foreign clientele. For whole report please read this page [68] from US Embassy (includes a list of establishments involved). See the infobox near the Drink section for a common scam run in Riga.

This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

RIGA (Esth. Ria-Lin), a seaport of Russia, 366 m. by rail S.W. of St Petersburg, the capital of the government of Livonia. The Gulf of Riga, 100 m. long and 60 m. in width, with shallow waters of inconsiderable salinity (greatest depth, 22 fathoms), freezes to some extent every year. The town is situated at the southern extremity of the gulf, 8 m. above the mouth of the Dvina, which brings Riga, by means of inland canals, into water communication with the basins of the Dnieper and the Volga. Below the town the river divides into several branches, among islands and sandbanks, receiving before it enters the sea the Bolderaa river, and expanding towards the east into wider lacustrine basins. Having direct railway communication with the fertile parts of southern and south-eastern Russia, Riga has become the second port for foreign trade on the Baltic, ranking next after St Petersburg. The port freezes on an average 127 days every year. The larger ships cannot reach Riga, and are unloaded at Ust-Dvinsk (formerly Dunamiinde). By no means all the trade with the interior is transported by the railways; no inconsiderable portion of the goods is carried by water.

Riga consists of four parts - the old town and the St Petersburg and Moscow suburbs on the right bank of the Dvina, and the Mitau suburb on the left bank, the two sides being connected by a floating bridge, which is removed in winter, and by a viaduct, 820 ft. long. The old town still preserves its Hanseatic features - high storehouses, with spacious granaries and cellars, flanking the narrow, winding streets. The only open spaces are the market-place and two other squares, one of which, facing the citadel, is adorned with a granite column erected (1818) in commemoration of the defeat of Napoleon I. in 1812. The suburbs, with their broad and quiet boulevards on the site of the former fortifications, are steadily growing. The St Petersburg suburb is the seat of the German aristocracy and merchant community.

Few antiquities of the medieval town remain. The oldest church, the Dom (St Mary's), founded in 1215, was burned in 1547, and the present building dates from the second half of the 16th century, but has been thoroughly restored since 1883. Its organ, dating from 1883, is one of the largest in the world. St Peter's church, with a beautiful tower 412 ft. high, was erected in 1406-1409. The castle, built in 1494-1515 by the master of the Knights of the Sword, Walter von Plettenberg - a spacious building often rebuilt - is the seat of the Russian authorities. The "House of the Black Heads," a corporation or club of foreign merchants, was founded in 1330, and subsequently became the meeting-place of the wealthier youth of the place. Of the recent erections, the polytechnic, the exchange, the monument of the German writer, Johann Gottfried von Herder, who lived at Riga towards the end of the 18th century, the gymnasiums (schools) of Lomonosov and Alexander I. and the large bonded warehouse are worthy of notice. The esplanade (where a Greek cathedral built in 1877-1884 now stands), the Wohrmann Park and the Imperial Park are much visited. Riga gives name to an archiepiscopal see of the Orthodox Greek Church and to an episcopal see of the Roman Catholic Church, and is the headquarters of the XX. army corps. In the environs, Dubbeln and the sea-bathing resorts of Bilderlingshof and Majorenhof have numerous visitors in summer.

The population, which was 102,590 in 1867, increased to 168,728 in 1881 and to 282,943 in 1897, so that Riga now ranks seventh in the empire in order of population: 47% of the inhabitants are Germans, 25% Russians and 23% Letts, with a small admixture of Esthonians, Jews, etc. The city has a commercial school (1903), a municipal library, the Dom museum, an art museum with picture gallery (1904-1905), technical and theological middle schools and a pilot and navigation school. Industrial activity has developed and includes railway-carriage works, works for the manufacture of machinery, oil mills and breweries. Owing to its communication by water and rail with the forests of White Russia and Volhynia, Riga is a great mart for timber. Flax and linseed also occupy a prominent place, Riga being the chief Russian port for the extensive flax-producing region of north-west Russia. Owing to the great railway which crosses the country from Riga to Smolensk, afterwards dividing into two branches, to Orenburg and Tsaritsyn on the lower Volga respectively, Riga is the storehouse and place of export for hemp coming by rail from west central Russia, and for corn, Riga merchants sending their buyers as far east as Tambov. Oats, in particular, are extensively exported to England from the central provinces. Wheat, barley, eggs, butter, oilcake, hides, tallow, leather, tobacco, rugs, feathers and other items add considerably to the total value of the exports, which increased from 14 million sterling in 1851-1860 to 8-14 millions sterling in 1901-1905. The imports, consisting chiefly of salt, fish, wine, cotton, metals, machinery, coal, oils, fruits and tobacco, are also rapidly increasing: whereas in 1851-60 they were valued at about z million sterling, in 1901-1905 they reached 6-114 millions sterling.


Riga was founded in 1158, as a storehouse at the mouth of the Diina (Dvina), by a few Bremen merchants. About 1190 the Augustinian monk Meinhard erected a monastery there, and in 1199-1201 Bishop Albert I. of Livonia obtained from Pope Innocent III. permission for German merchants to land at the new settlement, and chose it for his seat, exercising his power over the neighbouring district in connexion with the Teutonic Knights. As early as the first half of the 13th century the young city obtained the right of electing its own magistracy, and enlarged the walls erected during Albert's time. It joined the Hanseatic League, and from 1253 refused to recognize the rights of the bishop and the knights. In 1420 it fell once more under the rule of the bishop, who maintained his authority until 1566, when it was abolished in consequence of the Reformation. Sigismund II., king of Poland, took Riga in 1547, and in 1558 the Russians burned its suburbs and many ships in the river. In 1561 Gotthard Ketteler publicly abdicated his mastership of the order of the Teutonic Knights, and Riga, together with southern Livonia, became a Polish possession; after some unsuccessful attempts to reintroduce Roman Catholicism, Stephen Bathory, king of Poland, recognized the religious freedom of the Protestant population. Throughout the 17th century Riga was a bone of contention between Sweden, Poland and Russia. In 1621 Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, took it from Poland, and held it against the Poles and the Russians, who besieged it in 1656. During the Northern War between Sweden and Russia, it was courageously defended (1700), but after the battle of Poltava it succumbed, and was taken in July 1710 by the Russians. In 1781 it was made by Russia the capital of the Riga viceroyalty, but fifteen years later, the viceroyalty having been abolished, it was made the capital of Livonia. In 1812, the approach of the French being apprehended, the suburbs were burned. (P. A. K.; J. T. BE.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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  1. The capital of Latvia.

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