My next destination in my journey further northwards was the Latvian capital Riga. Riga is the biggest city in the Baltic region and houses over one – third of the Latvian population. The city was declared the cultural capital of Europe along with Swedish city of Umea. The city has also been popularly known as the party capital!
The city has a history of over 5000 years from the settling of proto – Baltic ancestors of Latvian people on the eastern coast of Baltic Sea. In the modern history, the city has exchanged hands between multiple rules including Swedish, Russian, German, Soviet Union and, of course Latvian. The city was beautifully restored after World War II and now the old city is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
City has a very good tram and bus network, but most places can be covered on foot and I would highly recommend that. The city is considered as the most important centre of Art Nouveau and that could be seen in the architecture spread over the north of medieval city. The old city has number of historical structures. The squares at Riga Cathedral, House of Blackheads and St. Peter’s church are amazingly beautiful places. The narrow cobbles lanes leading to the castle transports you to the medieval times. On Torn iela one can see remnant of Powder Tower and Old City wall, turn to Valnu iela to visit the Three Wall Street. Visit this place to see three centuries in one place and map detailing the geography of old city. History comes alive between three walls.
Bastion Hill next to an old moat which was built to defend the old port city later converted to a canal is the best place to spend a serene evening. Locals use this place for walk, meditation, to hang out and sometimes to celebrate some special occasions. I was in the town on my birthday and I realised that some people in the town was also celebrating a day to energise their river and earth. On top of Bastion hill candles were lit, prayer & meditation was done and they also sang birthday song for me. So, this place made my day! From the gardens here one can see the Freedom Monument which was the focus point of ‘Singing Revolution’ that re-established independence in 1991. The Freedom monument and the opera house behind look mesmerizing when lights are on, in the evening.
I took another walk about the old town after dark and it looked so more beautiful with all the colours brought on by the lights.
10:19 AM – Vilinius (Lithuania) – Simple Express Bus to Tallinn (Estonia) at 2:30 PM
Central Hostel Ernesta Birznieka-Upīša iela 20 Rīga, LV-1050