Riga (Latvian. Riga is the capital of Latvia and the largest city in all the Baltic States. The population is 721.8 thousand inhabitants (2006). It is located on the banks of the river Daugava (Rus. Western Dvina, Bel. Dzvina), which flows into the Gulf of Riga in the north of the city.
Riga is located on the southern shore of the Gulf of Riga of the Baltic Sea, on the Rigava Plain of the Seaside Lowland. The historical center of Riga is located on the right bank of the Daugava River, about 10 kilometers from the confluence of the river with the Gulf of Riga. The natural terrain of this place is a sandy plain located at an altitude of 1-10 m above sea level. There are lakes, the largest — Kishezers in Mezapark and Yuglas in the north-east.
The climate in Riga is determined by the proximity of the sea-moderately warm and humid. Summers are usually relatively cool and cloudy (the average temperature in July is 16.9 °C; the average precipitation is 85 mm). Winters are relatively warm, with frequent thaws (the average temperature in January is minus 4.7 °C, the thaw occurs about 10 times a month). Snow cover forms in mid-December and persists until mid-March. Approximately 40 % of the days of the year are cloudy, with precipitation of 700-720 mm per year.
History The missionary work to spread Catholicism in Europe was carried out with fire and sword. The monks of the Teutonic Order carried the Good News to the pagans of the Curonian, Latgalian, Livonian, and Estonians. Several successful campaigns of 1197-1199 ended with the foundation of the German colony. An impressive army of about 1,200 knights, on 23 ships, entered the mouth of the Dvina (Daugava), about 30 km upstream, where the first fortified settlement of German merchants was located. The German name Uexkull accurately reflected the etymology of the name — in Livonian and Estonian it literally meant ux, ix-one, first and kull, kile-village. Now this village has retained its name as Ikskile (Latvian. Ikskile).
The official date of foundation of the city is 1201, the founder of Riga is the German bishop Albert von Buxhowden (Albert von Buxhowden 1165-1229) from the knightly family of Appeldern. He served as a canon in Bremen, and was appointed Bishop of Livonia in 1199. By 1211, his efforts had already built the Dome Cathedral. In an effort to attract many pilgrims from Germany, he obtained a special papal bull granting indulgences to all new settlers. In 1204, Pope Innocent III signed a decree establishing the Order of the Sword with subordination to the Bishop of Riga (later-the Archbishop). Until 1257, his residence of the archbishops remained in Uexkull Castle, after which the castle and possessions were granted to the master of the order, and were the beginning of the eponymous noble family, and the residence was moved to Riga.
In 1282, Riga, Lübeck and Visby joined the Hanseatic Trade Union. Until 1561, the city was ruled by the archbishops of Riga, a total of 20 people. In the period from 1561 to 1581, Riga was a free city. 1581-1621-times of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. 1621-1711-Swedish times. After the Northern War (1700-1721), Riga became part of the Russian Empire. From 1796 to 1917, the city was the provincial center. From 1918 to 1940 and from 1990, Riga was the capital of the Republic of Latvia. In 1940-1941 and 1944-1990 — the capital of the Latvian SSR. In 1941-1944-the center of the Reichskommissariat Ostland.
The main attraction of Riga is the small area of Vekriga (“Old Riga”).”) with dozens of old buildings, among which the most interesting are the buildings of the Small and Large Guilds (XIX century) with luxurious paintings, the “Cat House” (1910) with figures of two cats on the spires of the towers, the Palace of Peter the Great, the last bastion of the old city fortress wall – Pulvertornis (Powder Tower, XIII century), the buildings of the Yakovlev barracks (XVIII century), Zviedru Varti (Swedish Gate, 1689) in the Ramera Tower, the Church of St. St. James (XIII century), the residence of the President of the Republic of Latvia – Rigas Pils (Riga Castle, 1330), the famous buildings of Tris Brali (Three Brothers, XV-XVIII centuries), the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows (1764), the Anglican Church of the Savior (1733), the Town Hall Square with the statue of the patron saint of the city – St. Rolanda, the House of the “Blackheads” (XIV c.) opposite the Town Hall, the Orthodox Nativity Cathedral, the Menzendorf House (XVII c.) with the Museum of Everyday Life of Riga of the XVII-XVIII c., the Church of St. Nicholas. Peter the Great (XII-XIII centuries) with a 137-meter tower and the Church of St. Peter the Great. St. John’s (XV-XVI centuries), the court of the Convention (Seth’s Convention, XV century) and Yanov’s court (Seth’s Jan) with a fragment of the city fortress wall, the Monument to Freedom (30s of the XX century), as well as a number of medieval buildings on Trokshnu Street, the narrowest street in Riga – Rosen, Art Nouveau houses on Albert Street and the picturesque Kalkyu Street.
The symbol of the city is the famous Dome Cathedral (1211) with one of the world’s largest organ (1884). Also interesting are the Viestura Garden with the Alexander Gate installed in honor of Russia’s victory over Napoleon at the entrance, as well as the National Opera Building (1863), the Riga Central Market located in balloon hangars during the First World War, the Lido recreation complex, the Aqualandia water park and the park along the city canal.
There are many interesting museums in the city, among which the most interesting are the Military Museum in the Powder Tower building, the Architectural Museum in the “Three Brothers” building, the Museum of Foreign Art, the Historical Museum of Latvia and the Museum of Literature, Theater and Music in the Riga Castle, the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, the Latvian Museum of Medicine, the Museum of Culture “Dauderi”, the Nature Museum, the Sports Museum, the only Museum in the Baltic States of Porcelain, the Museum of Photography, the State Art Gallery of Latvia, the Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts in the building of the former St. Nicholas Church. St. George (1204), the Theater Museum, synagogue and City Jewish Museum in the suburb of Maskavas (here during the Nazi occupation was a ghetto), the Automobile Museum of Riga (“Motor Museum”), the Railway Museum, the Wax Museum, the Riga Film Museum and the open Latvian Ethnographic Museum on the shore of Lake Jugla with a collection of buildings from all over the country – from wooden churches to windmills of the XVI-XIX centuries.
In and around the city there are many modern sports facilities, Baldone balneological and mud spa with a picturesque park, and Rundal (77 km away). to the south of Riga) is the famous park and palace of the Dukes of Courland by Rastrelli.