It’s Faraway Friday, and this week I’m whisking you off to Riga, Latvia! This beautiful capitol city has so much to offer, and I urge you to take a trip there before everyone finds out about it! Here are 10 reasons you should consider a visit to this incredible city.
10. The Swedish Gate
Swedish? In Latvia? Yes, my friends. When nearby Scandinavians occupied the city around the 13th century, they built a large city wall. This is the only portion left in Riga. The city executioner used to live in the apartment above it. He would put out a red rose on the days he executed someone. The people who live there now have kept the red, but switched to a different type of flower.
9. Powder Tower
This whole thing used to be full of arms and gun powder! This was another medieval fortification like the Swedish Gate. It’s part of the Latvian War Museum now, but just the look of it from the outside, with all the ivy growing up over it and the pointed roof, is enough to take me back in time for a moment!
Riga has some beautiful gardens. We were there in August, and the brightest colors were all in bloom! There are plenty of places to sit and take it all in, or paths to walk or jog on right in the middle of the city.
7. River Boat Tour
This was one of the most fun things we did in Riga. The scenery was lovely, the boat ride itself was peaceful, and my duck had a great time, too!
6. Charming Cobblestone Streets
How cute is this? The buildings are from a variety of time periods, but the cobblestone streets have remained the same. What a beautiful city to walk through!
5. Art Nouveau Architecture
Riga has the best collection of art nouveau architecture in Europe, according to multiple sources. We took a self-guided walking tour of the best architecture, and it really was stunning. Our hotel even made the list!
4. The Astronomical Clock
This is not the oldest one (that’s in Prague!), but it is an impressive one! An astronomical clock goes beyond telling time and includes positions of the sun, moon, and planets as well!
3. House of Blackheads
The Brotherhood of Blackheads was a guild for single German merchants in the city. These merchants showed off their skills in the different elements of this House of Blackheads. It’s also one of the most photographed places in Riga!
2. Statue of Freedom
Right downtown, and visible from the lovely gardens, Riga’s Statue of Freedom is a moving site. It was built in 1935 to honor those who fought and lost their lives in the Latvian War of Independence from 1918-1920. It’s still a symbol of Latvians’ sovereignty through the years.
1. The Love Lock Bridge
I’m a sucker for love, especially since marrying my wonderful husband! This one is also called the Padlock Bridge and the Wedding Lock Bridge. It’s a sweet little pedestrian bridge over a little waterfall next to the small river that runs through the lovely gardens. Tradition says that newly married couples would come here on their wedding day, after their vows had been said, put a lock on the bridge, and throw the key into the river, never to be unlocked just as their married will never come undone either. How sweet!
So what do you think? Are you starting to think about Riga for your next travel destination?