Excursion tour in Riga. Top architecture - monuments, castles, temples and palaces

Castle in Riga Let’s continue our virtual walk in Riga and its most prominent architecture monuments. This time, we will focus on such breath-taking sights as Riga Cathedral, Latvian National Opera, Freedom Monument, Riga Radio and TV Tower, Powder Tower and many others. For many people, the cultural and historical vibe of these monuments defines the atmosphere of not only Riga, but also Latvia in general. We will make a virtual 3D tour to every monument, look at it from a bird’s eye view, and browse the most interesting facts that have defined the history of Riga. The photo gallery and maps are the cherry on the cake!

Riga Cathedral, Riga

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Riga Cathedral is one of the oldest attractions in Riga and all the Baltic States. Rigas Domes is translated from Latin as “The House of God”.
» The first stone was solemnly laid on 25 June 1211. This ceremony was visited by the first bishop Albert von Buxthoeven. The construction of the cathedral was completed in 1270. Over the centuries, the cathedral had been destroyed and reconstructed many times, so its exterior combines features of different architectural styles.
» In 1959, an altar was placed here and the cathedral hall was turned into a concert hall with rows of seats.
» The main attraction of the cathedral, the organ, was changed several times. In 1883-1884, the musical instrument made in the late 16th century was replaced. It was the biggest organ in the world. The organ had artistic value because its decorative body carved in 1599-1601 had been preserved.
» Then, the organ was restored in 1981-1984. A new musical instrument was placed in the old body.
» Nowadays, services alternate with organ concerts.
» Riga Cathedral is also the subject of paintings painted by Nicholas Roerich in 1903.

Latvian National Opera, Riga

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Originally, the building of the Latvian National Opera served as the first theatre in the city. It was named “German Theatre”. The construction project was approved by Emperor Alexander II in 1860.
» It was officially opened in 1863. Not only German, but also French and Russian operas were staged here. Plays were staged only in German.
» Over the years of its existence, the theatre was burned three times. In 1882, after the first fire caused by a gas stove, the first steam electric station that provided electricity for lighting in the theatre was built.
» In1919, the theatre passed to the Latvian National Opera. In the 1930s, Chaliapin, Sobinov, and Karsavina appeared at the theatre.
» In different years, such famous performers, as Maris Liepa, Michael Baryshnikov, A. Godunov, and opera singers Elina Garanca, Maya Kovalevskaya, and Kristine Opolais performed.
» In 2015, M. Baryshnikov who was born and started his career in Riga, came to Latvia to participate in the performance “Brodsky/Baryshnikov” by Alvis Hermanis.
» In 1987, Andrei Mironov did not finish his last play on the stage of the Latvian National Opera.

Freedom Monument, Riga

Location on the map:   Facts:
» The Freedom Monument to the soldiers who died for the independence of Latvia was installed in 1935. This monument was constructed on the funds donated by the people.
» It is 42 m high. The monument is crowned by 9-meter Liberty, a woman holding three stars that symbolize three historical regions of Latvia, Kurzeme, Vidzeme, and Latgale. At its foot, there are sculptures and bas-reliefs depicting legendary heroes of Latvia.
» In 1940, Latvia became a part of the USSR and the Soviet authorities wanted to dismantle the monument. This decision was discussed by Soviet authoritative sculptor V. I. Muhina (who was born in Riga), academician L. V. Rudnev (who lived in Riga), and architect Ernests Stalberg. Their opinion helped preserve the monument. When Latvia became independent in 1991, important national holidays are celebrated in the square.
» Near the Freedom Monument, you can always see the Guard of Honor.

Riga Radio and TV Tower, Riga

Location on the map:   Facts:
» The Riga Radio and TV Tower was built in the middle of the river on Hare Island. The tower was built in two stages. The construction lasted 10 years, from 1979 to 1989.
» The entire country participated in the construction. Metal was smelted in Ukraine, the frame was constructed in Chelyabinsk, installation works were performed by the Leningrad people.
» It is the highest tower in the Baltic countries. It is 368 m high.
» There is an observation platform at a height of 97 m. The other platform was constructed at a height of 134 m for high-ranking guests. The local designer added extraordinary furniture. Today, it is not used.
» The tower is supported by three pillars. There are lifts. Two of them move on inclined rails. The third lift is used by visitors.
» The TV Tower put has been put into operation for 250 years. It can withstand 7.5 magnitude earthquakes and a wind speed of 44 m/s.

Powder Tower, Riga

Location on the map:
Facts: » The Powder Tower is the only medieval fortress that has been survived to the present day. There were 28 towers with different names at one time. The Powder Tower was first mentioned in the chronicles of 1330.
» In 1856, Governor-General A. A. Suvorov-Rymniksky (the grandson of General Suvorov) ordered to extend and renovate the city. Due to this, it was decided to demolish old buildings. Only the Powder Tower was left because it was a historical monument.
» It had not been used for some time. Only in 1892, it passed to the Polytechnic College. The students restored it and used it as a fencing arena, a dance room, and a pub.
» After the First World War, the tower started to serve as a museum. First, the Latvian Shooters Museum was founded. Then, the Military Museum was opened.
» In 1938, the tower was reconstructed. The Riga Nakhimov Naval School was established here.
» In 1957, the Soviet authorities opened here the October Revolution Museum. When Latvia seceded from the USSR in 1991, the Military Museum was opened here again. Today, it is open to visitors. Here, you can learn about the history of the country.
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Plan your own tour over Riga on the monuments map

More to see in Riga
Riga is a beautiful city with rich history, which never ceases to amaze its guests by widest choice of attractions. In the center of the city you will find the famous Monument of Liberty, which was erected here in 1935. The wonderful symbol of freedom and independence has been repeatedly at the risk of elimination, but each time it has miraculously managed to survive. Numerous important public meetings, pickets and rallies have taken place near the monument. In 2001, the monument was completely renovated. Nowadays this is an important historical object and an honorable place protected by guards. A large part of historic attractions of Riga are located in the Old City. Make sure you do not forget to visit Konventa Seta – a tiny town, on the territory of which are located a beautiful hotel, several antique shops, museum of porcelain, as well as cozy cafes and restaurants. Church of St. Peter, which was built in 1209, is a wonderful religious monument. During the Middle Ages the church was the tallest building in the country. Unfortunately, only one tower has survived till our days. The tower is equipped with multiple viewing platforms, from which tourists can enjoy magnificent panoramic looks. Perhaps, House of the Blackheads is the most striking architectural monument of the city. This is a beautiful mansion, which was built in the beginning of the 14th century. Recently the building has passed through a complete reconstruction. A part of its premises now houses the … Read further

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